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March 29, 2011 - 8:16pm

A Tale of Two Cupcakes

BY JORDAN KRISTOPIK

Strawberry Birthday Cupcakes

For my birthday, I got a cookbook. But not just any cookbook--a cupcake cookbook. A cupcake bible, if you will. I'm still floored that I haven't yet blogged about cupcakes, my favorite dessert. Hell, my favorite food. I've made dozens of cupcakes, and in the past week I've made two recipes from the book. Let me preface by saying I loved them both equally, but they were more different than night and day. And the crowd I fed them to had strong opinions as well....let me just dive right in.

Cupcake #1: White Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream Frosting
I made these for my friend's birthday, per her request of "something fruity." The cake is awesome--dense and full of flavor. It's more like a white brownie, it's super moist and doesn't crumble like a box cake. It's made with a loooooot of egg whites, which gives it the bright white color. Now, don't go thinking these cupcakes are healthy, they're loaded with butter and sugar. This cake is so good, it barely needs any frosting. But of course, I made frosting. A crazy frosting. It was meringue-based, so it started with cooking egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until it combined together. Then you whisk them until they expand. Whip in some butter and fresh strawberry puree, and you've got a light, delicious, creamy frosting. However, I don't think my meringue whipping skills were up to par. It didn't stiffen up like the recipe said and ended up being more like a goopy glaze. These cupcakes definitely got mixed reviews ("Yeahhhh, so like, what's in the frosting?"). It's definitely different. But the cake, oh, the cake. Make the cake. And then get a candy thermometer so you can do the meringue the right way.

So five days later, I redeemed myself with the BEST CUPCAKES EVER. Seriously, they're the best I've ever made and even surpass my previous number 1--Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cupcakes. WIthout further ado...

Cupcake #2: Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
The best thing about these cupcakes is that they require no frosting, so you can easily make them, bake them, and eat 'em. No need for cooling or making a frosty mess. For these cupcakes, you don't even need an electric mixer, just two bowls: one for the chocolate mixture, one for the peanut butter. It's simple, yet delicious ingredients. The chocolate cake is rich and tender, yet is able to hold the peanut butter mixture perfectly. The peanut butter mixture has no flour, so it's moist and creamy. It doesn't cook as fully as its chocolate counterpart, but that makes the cupcake all the better. It's like the frosting is swirled throughout the cake. And that's how you make them. Mix the chocolate, mix the peanut butter, and swirl them together. They make your whole kitchen--excuse me--your whole house smell like a warm melty Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. I took these to Chicago this weekend with a group of friends, and they were devoured the second I pulled them out of my suitcase. Make them NOW. Thank me later.

Oh, and I'm sorry there are no pictures of these cupcakes. We ate them waaaaay to fast.

Recipes are from the book "Cupcakes," by Martha Stewart