3.14.2013

A Picnic in Bed


Last weekend Fred and I camped out at home. We planned our 'getaway' carefully, and made sure we had a plentitude of rations (of every imaginable sort) to ensure there would be absolutely no reason to get into a car at any point between day's end on Friday and first light on Monday. And, I dare say, mission accomplished with flying, colorful colors.

After our camping expedition in the living room the night before, we took Saturday to sleep in. Even the pups stayed in bed with us and snuggled, as opposed to Beso waking up at the crack of dawn to commence his ritual of whimpering and squiggling until I get up to feed him. Eventually, though, the pups had to be fed. So Fred lingered in bed while I took care of them, made coffee and poked around in the kitchen to see what I wanted to rustle up for breakfast. 

Breakfast turned into brunch as I looked up from the stove, where I was making heart-shaped eggs in a basket, and saw that it was almost noon. Then, the breakfast that turned into brunch, turned into brunch in bed; coffee, orange juice, sausages, eggs in a basket, and a crossword. On a tray. In bed. At Noon. 

That's when I got an idea, or as I like to call them, brainflowers.

I was so excited that I zipped right back into the kitchen. I dug up cocoa powder, walnuts and blood oranges and I was going to make cake, or cupcakes, or something. Something cute and sweet. I called Mom, rifled through cookbooks and searched online for ideas on how to incorporate the ingredients. I found little. It seems when that happens, the best go to is cupcakes. So I got to it.

A couple of things: A) I don't bake much, and when I flop in the kitchen, it's usually baking-related. B) I have never made chocolate anything.

I am a big fan of blood oranges. When they appear for a few short weeks in the middle of winter, I jump at the opportunity to make just about everything I possibly can with them. But I had yet to make them into cupcakes. I figured it was about damn time. And because I’ve found that little is quite as satisfying as a chocolate cupcake, the chocolate blood orange cupcake was born. With olive oil and walnuts. And for more fun, Fred made candied blood orange peel to top the cupcakes off!

The cupcakes were kind of amazing. I was very proud. They were so incredibly moist. They were heavy in weight, but tremendously light and fluffy on the palate. The sunset hued buttercream and the chocolate cake spiked with orange zest were a perfect match. Like they were made for each other. Success!

Why did I do all of this? What propelled this chocolatey, baking brainflower? Because, I figured, if the night before we could camp out in the living room and make clam chowder over the open fire, then this afternoon we could have a tea party picnic in bed!

And so we did. But we were going to need those cupcakes...




Chocolate, Olive Oil, Blood Orange Cupcakes with Walnuts

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup pure olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon blood orange zest, finely grated
1/2 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon almond meal
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
For Frosting:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 teaspoon blood orange zest, finely grated
1-2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream (as needed)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and zest until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Add walnuts and stir until just smooth (do not overmix). 
Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes (or 10-12 for minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar or added cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Top with a little curl of candied orange peel - basic recipe here.




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