I’ve spent every Memorial Day Weekend since childhood for the last 16 years playing in a basketball tournament, eating some loathsome amount of food I shall not delve into, and hanging out with my favorite people. This past Memorial Day Weekend was special however, because we were celebrating Jamie’s grad school graduation. Before I go any further, I have to provide the inspiration for the subject matter of this post. Jamie’s boyfriend, Shou, sent out an email letting us know about a graduation BBQ we were going to have for Jamie in LA since they were both down from NorCal for the tournament weekend. Naturally, I volunteered to bring dessert, and after failing to get an answer from Jamie as to what her favorite type of sweets were, I deferred to Shou as follows:
what kind of dessert does jamie like?
i get a half day tomorrow, so i was thinking of trying to bake her something
me: she said you like cheesecake but i don’t care what you like
she likes desserts period
like cake? cookies? bars? cupcakes?
surely, she has something she likes more than others
me: does she like fruity things? chocolatey? citrusy?
After accumulating all the random supplies needed from the market and Target (candy thermometer, anyone?), Shou sent the following text: “Omg. Jamie likes to MAKE cupcakes, not eat them.” I couldn’t bring myself to take the perishables back to the market the next day, because “I promise I didn’t poison these bananas or leave this buttermilk in my hot car all day” just didn’t seem viable. So, I decided to make pumpkin bars with a gingerbread crust in addition to the banana cupcakes.
My banana cupcakes were off to a good start with everything going smoothly in the batter-making process, but things took a turn for the worse when it came time to start the Caramel Buttercream frosting. I guess the need for a candy thermometer should have raised a red flag, but I refused to buy one because I would probably never use it again. Instead, I purchased a digital meat thermometer with a probe and clip it at such an angle where the tip of the probe wasn’t touching the bottom of the pan to give the most accurate temperature read. Behold my clever device:
I made the caramel successfully with said contraption, but in the process, I managed to knock a pan’s worth of hot melted sugar into my kitchen sink which quickly cooled and solidified. After pouring gallons of boiling water down the sink to try to dissolve what had probably become a giant rock of sugar, I found my inner plumber (sans buttcrack) and disassembled the sink, cleared the clogged pipe, and put the pipes back together. Of course, it continued to leak water, so I ended up taking it apart and putting it back together four more times. By the time I had gotten everything back to normal, all of the frosting ingredients had cooled or warmed to the wrong temperature. I tried to combine them all in vain and instead of a fluffy frosting, I was left with sugary soup.
Accepting frosting defeat, I bought dark chocolate frosting at the store to accompany my banana cupcakes. Until next time, Caramel Buttercream.