Thursday, December 23, 2010

Champagne Wishes & Red Velvet Dreams

In case you have been asleep or dead the last few years, red velvet cupcakes have burst upon the scene and captured the palate and tummies of Americans everywhere.

We have had great success with our gourmet red velvet cupcakes and have received some high praise about their delectable flavor and texture.  Our first foray with these little red gems was in November when we made a few to supplement servings for our Run Your Race team shirt replica cake (read about it here). 

Little did we know that there would be literally a stampede for the 18 we had made, rather than our fondant-covered shirt cake. We started clueing in as people groaned in delight as their eyes rolled back in their heads from cupcake goodness. Also, Heather heard her sister, Mindy, wax poetic about them on a couple different occasions.

Mindy loves her Red Velvet Cupcakes!
So, we made them for Thanksgiving treats and sold quite a few -- enough so that Heather came up with the idea (via her sister of course) of making and selling them individually boxed and be-ribboned for teacher gifts at the end of the school semester.

It was a good least Heather thought so until she stood in front of the aisle of Christmas ribbon at Michaels.  For half an hour. Seriously. There were so many choices. Should we go red and gold?  Red and green? Silver? She would find three spools of one ribbon and only one of the accent ribbon she wanted. Finally after breaking out in a undecisive sweat and blocking the narrow aisle for far too long, she decided on a silver and sugar-plum purple. After all, our name is Plum Crazy Cake Company. After picking up a few more decorative do-dads, she headed for the register.

But once she got home, she realized she really had no idea of how to put it all together....not being able to tie a bow beyond the shoe lace bunny ears variety. So, she did what any resourceful business person should do: she called in for reinforcements.

Enter stage right, Suzanne Devereaux, good friend and owner of local event coordinating business, Encore Events and Party Planning. There are a couple of people we know who have "it" -- that eye for design and overall beautification. Suzanne is at the top of the list. Give her some baling wire, raffia, green moss and ribbon and we guarantee she could make something stunning in about 10 minutes!

Suzanne Devereaux -- the gal with the "magic hands"!

She's so darn photogenic!
Suzanne graciously agreed to come over and rescue Heather from the jumble of ribbon and other accoutrements on her kitchen table. And just like I said, in about 10 minutes she came up with a beautifully creative concept.

How's that for businesses helping other small businesses?
What Suzanne came up with brought to mind visions sugar plums dancing in our head. We took our business cards and cut them to create smaller tags. All the pertinent info is there and could also be used as a "gift tag" to the receipient. We were thrilled with the results. And, getting the ribbon 60% off didn't hurt either.

Then it was time to make the actual cupcakes. Heather was on the task solo since Launa had worked hard the last two weeks on other projects (remember that two projects a month maximum we try to stick to?). Things started off well. Heather bought all the ingredients she needed and packed all our bins of stuff into the kitchen and fired up the oven. Things started going sideways when she started in on the chocolate bark. She learned many things at this point:

Using a glass bowl without a handle is a bad idea. Glass gets hot in the microwave so using a hot pad glove is a good idea. Unless it's old and worn and both the glove and the bowl are slippery. This causes the bowl to slide out of the gloved hand and onto the tiled floor. Hot molten chocolate with glass shards embedded in it is very tricky to clean up. Hot molten chocolate is also sticky and is terribly difficult to get out of broom bristles. At some point, it's best to get most of it up and then let the rest harden to scrape off later.

After she learned these important lessons, she wisely decided to use a batter bowl with a handle for attempt number two and was successful!  She then moved on to making the red velvet cupcakes. If you've never baked the classic red velvet cupcake, there are a lot of steps and separate ingredients to mix to add in sequentially. Still flustered by the chocolate disaster, she forgot to add the eggs, which made the first batch look weird and taste more like a muffin -- yet surprisingly good if unsellable.

So, on to batch #2, and finally success! Another batch and a half later, and 2 1/2 batches of yummy cream cheese frosting later and the cupcakes were done. The chocolate was cooled by then and then snapped into "bark" pieces. And then it was all assembled and each cupcake was nestled into its own box for delivery.

And from the feedback we've received, they were a complete hit!

And in case we don't get back here to blog again before the clock strikes 2011, we'll raise our champagne glasses and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very, very Happy New Year!

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