February 07

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

I’ve been in an inspiration rut lately. My go-to’s for recipe ideas seem boring. The surefire answer to “what’s for dinner?” has missed the mark a lot. I’m not sure what it is, but it needs to stop. My thighs and butt would really prefer I stop dining out when we have perfectly suitable (and healthy!) things in the house already. I just need to stop being lazy.

So the first step to stop being lazy is to 1) fall back on old recipes of mine/my mom’s that are easy to make with an even easier clean up process, and 2) look a little harder online for new, exciting things. And I don’t mean !NEW! like the new trendy food that costs a bajillion dollars or is hard as &*#$ to find (especially on our side of the world), but something new and different using ingredients we already have or can easily get for cheap. I like these types of meals, especially if a little goes a long way because that means The Fellow™ and I get leftovers for lunch the next day.

Well, number one has not been happening. Everything old/tried & true has fallen short due to this inspiration rut. My mother’s meatloaf – which I claim I could eat every day – sounds ewwy. Yes. Ewwy. Not appetizing. It isn’t the beef, it isn’t the loaf form… it’s just, I don’t even know anymore. Since number one didn’t work out, I’ve had to fall back to number two and that’s been trying my patience. My favorite go-to is Pinterest. It’s all the best (and worst) recipes in one area and I don’t have to go through a million pages of backlog entries to find something appetizing sounding.

Here’s the problem with Pinterest:  when I pull up the Food & Drink category (which is the ONLY section I look at on there), this is what I see — Key Lime Pie Fudge, Blueberry Angel Food Cake, BEST SUGER COOKEES EVAR!!!1!, Homemade BBQ Sauce, Cherry Cordial Valentine’s Day Cupcakes, Cranberry Pear Tart with Almond Cream, Nutella-Stuffed Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie, Chocolate Strawberry Shot Glasses, Weight Watchers Berry Cobbler Recipe, Sunflower & Pumpkin Seed No-Bake Energy Balls and the list goes on of just desserts or alternately, things like:  Cowboy Caviar, Drunken Gummy Bears, White Trash Dip, The Incredible Noodle Weenie, Kitty Litter CAKE, and Mexican Dorito Casserole.

Now, if you read that list, I’m sure at least one thing appealed to you. But none of those make a dinner. And it seems like all Pinterest people are interested in are sweets and shitty food (not shitty tasting) that’s going to look the same coming up as it did going down. I’m not trying to put down anyone who likes those things – that is not my intention – but none of it is appealing to me. In fact, it all sounds downright disgusting (well, not the desserts, but you can definitely have way too much in a dessert). None of it is worth wasting calories and carbs and the like, especially when I want recipes/ideas for dinner. Sure, we’d all love cupcakes for dinner, but in a world where I need to make sure my ass doesn’t get any bigger, I can’t be that blissful :P

Beyond my gripes on Pinterest, it does come in handy when I need to find a recipe for a dessert. Take pink lemonade cupcakes, for example. I bet if you Google’d “pink lemonade cupcakes” and Pinterest, the posts would go on forever. I had heard of them before, but it didn’t appeal to me at that point in time and I moved along. However, the other night, knowing we were getting together with family, I needed something easy and delicious to make the night before our get together. I ran across a recipe for pink lemonade cupcakes and I thought it sounded easy peasy since I only needed to buy the pink lemonade concentrate. Everything else I had at home. I like recipes like this.

The reviews/comments on the blog were encouraging. Amazing, best cupcakes ever, etc.

I’ll admit that I felt they were quite a bit lackluster.

I wasn’t impressed with the frosting recipe either. I followed the directions exactly and what I got was something less malleable than fondant. It was so stiff and it tasted like butter. Not in a delicious way, either. I added a teaspoon of milk (and a wee bit more concentrate than called for) at a time until it became what buttercream should be. That helped develop the flavor a bit more. Or at least it broke up the monotony of BUTTER. Don’t get me wrong, I like butter. But not like this. Butter and pink lemonade are not tasty together.

I tried one cupcake by itself; no frosting. It was okay, but our oven does wacky things in the far right corner and this cupcake had fallen victim to slightly over baking. It wasn’t burnt, but you could really taste the golden brown. Not ideal for a cupcake. After they had adequately cooled and I could actually shovel the buttercream in a piping bag, I slathered on the frosting and tried it that way. A bit better, but still a miss in my book. I doubled the recipe. Took half to work and took half to our get together. I had two of them while I was at work.

I’ll also admit, they grew on me.

But a discussion over dessert boiled down to this consensus:  the sweet and slight tang of the pink lemonade are a different, delicious combination but one cupcake is packed with enough flavor to tide oneself over for many hours. I love cupcakes. I could eat cupcakes all the time, as could my cohorts of the evening, but these pink lemonade cupcakes were so dense and lemonade-y, they need to be savored and portion control is key. One and we’re good.

Overall, between work and home, they were a success. I’m not sure I would ever make them for us to enjoy at the house (especially when a moist yellow cake from scratch it easier to make with all ingredients on hand at all times…), but I would not hesitate to make these and bring to another get together or celebration.

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I will be the first to admit that I lack the ability to frost. This is why I can’t be a professional baker.

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

source: Sweet Cheeks in the Kitchen [Pretty In Pink]

Ingredients

Cupcakes
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites
1/3 cup thawed frozen Pink Lemonade Concentrate
1/4 cup buttermilk
Pink food coloring

Frosting
3 cups + 3 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons pink lemonade concentrate
3 Tablespoons pink lemonade concentrate
2 Tablespoons milk
Pink food coloring

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin pan with liners. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg whites and lemonade concentrate.

3. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until just smooth.

4. Add just enough food coloring to turn the batter a light shade of pink.

5. Scoop batter into liners (fill about three-fourths full). Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.

6. Add the butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt, lemonade concentrate, and a few drops of food coloring to the stand mixer and mix on low using the paddle attachment until combined.

7. Turn the speed to med-high until the buttercream is fluffy and uniformly pink. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

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