This day marks a small step for Eve and one giant leap for SweetEve’s.
Now this blog is not a new idea. Nope. It didn’t just pop into being last week with no fuss and worry, actually, my blog idea was created… Last Easter. Nearly a year ago. That was when, after years of being obsessed with food, having a stint as a prep cook in a restaurant and quite literally browsing through blogs all day long (love you foodgawker, tastespotting and photograzing!) that I decided to finally step up and make my own. But then almost a whole year flew by and here I finally am now. Crazy right? That’s me, ever the procrastinator.
But I actually did have some reasons for that ridiculously large gap from blog creation to first blog post.
I had no idea at the time I decided to make SweetEve’s, but last year turned out to be a really big year for me. I had one major up and one very major down. And I do mean major. I suppose I should explain a bit, huh? And I’ll explain a bit about me, your grateful hostess.
So, my name is Yvonne but that’s proven quite hard for many to say so I’ve gained the nickname Eve throughout my years. I’m goofy, adventurous and ever-curious and travel is my second love, alongside food of course. I love, love, love to cook and I love baking even more, as well as making chocolates and candies and… anything sweet. I am obsessed (and I do mean obsessed) with food, cooking, eating, food writing in every way imaginable and, oh, did I mention food? I am proud to say I am a foodie in every sense of the word. And… Umm…
Isn’t funny how when you try to write about yourself it can instantly inflict you with writer’s block? No? Well it sure does it to me. I’m sure I’ll think of something else at some point in the near future. J
Now, for last year. Why it ended up being so important and why it impacted me so greatly.
First the most joyous part of last year:
Last July was the best month I’ve had in years and years. Why, you ask? Because I made my first (sadly, very short) trip back to England to visit my Father’s side of the family in five years. Oh here’s a fact about Eve: I have dual American and British citizenship and I’m damn proud of it. I lovvvved England. Like, way more than I thought I ever would. Last time I went I was holding my mom and dads’ hand while crossing the road and complaining about the cold. This time I was a full-fledged food loving woman, wandering about with wonder and with a very big appetite. I had so much fun and ate so much awesome food – when I left to go home I felt like I was going on an unknown break from a newfound lover. And one I got home, all I wanted was to find a way to go back. And well, it has come. I’ll be going back to England next month and I’m ridiculously excited to be returning. It just didn’t happen in the way I expected.
And now the saddest part of last year. The saddest moment I’ve had in many years – and it was a life changer.
My mother very unexpectedly passed away last August. She loved life and she loved all of her family like no one else I’ve ever met and she always, always put herself last. She is the reason I’m going back to England, to take part of her to the land she loved visiting and the family she adored. And through my life, she imparted some things onto me. Something that has a lot to do with what this blog is all about. She taught me that you always have to keep your head up. Always look on the bright side of things. And, finally, whether in a unexpected laugh, a quick smile, a well placed joke or an over-indulgent piece of cake, never forget to add a little bit of sweetness to every day and every moment you possibly can.
And that is the whole reason for this blog. I didn’t realize it when I created it but that is what I love to do. That is probably the sole reason why I love to bake. I love seeing people smile, making people happy. I love surprising someone with a little treat and hearing them say I made their day. Who doesn’t? I would even go so far as to say that seing that happiness is one of those special things I live for. For ever smile I can give someone, it make me smile even bigger.
As for England? Check back for what food adventures take place while I’m there at the beginning of March!
Okay, enough background and onto the recipe.
Oh wait! There’s one more thing.
And it’s something about me that I just remembered. But don’t worry – it does have something to do with the yummable treat I’m showing you today.
And it’s just a little tidbit.
I love to surprise people. And I love challenging people to think about things in a different way (ie: ingredients). Sooo, what recipe did I decide to whip into creation for my first ever blog post…?
I give you all, the three Bs in a cupcake. Can you guess what they stand for? No? Okay here it is:
Beets. Beer. And Brown Sugar! (Oh and one D – Dark Chocolate)
I bet you’re doing a double take right now, right? Well, don’t worry. I wouldn’t even fathom presenting you all with a disgusting dessert. Pinkie promise.
No, it’s actually an amazing combination. Here’s the logic on this one:
Beets = Sweet. Earthy. Usually used in savory dishes, yes, but hey – it’s sweet! Why not use it? You can’t even taste it in the cupcake, except for the added moistness and the colour in the frosting. And Christina Tosi even has a recipe for beet ganache in her new book! See? (and you can tease whomever may be tasting the cupcake to see if they can figure out the “secret” ingredient hehe)
Beer = No explanation needed except it’s really stout. But that didn’t fit in with the whole B thing. Can you go wrong with beer? (Wait… I guess you can but I’ll leave that for you to decide.)
Brown Sugar = Another one that needs no explanation. Deep, rich, molassas-ey. It’s just good. Especially when paired with beer. And beets.
Dark Chocolate = Just. Plain. Nom. Especially with the aforementioned Bs.
Now, you may ask, how on this good earth did I come up with this combination? Well, let me show you and you will surely understand:
See? Yep. It was those two. Their faults. What was I to do when presented with two such divine looking dessert ideas? Just ignore them? Make both separately? Nah, I’m too lazy for that. I decided to experiment. And thankfully for all of us, the combo of those two lovely treats turned out divine x 2.
Let’s not forget the gorgeously pink frosting. It’s. Just. Really. Good. Try not to eat all of it before you frost your cupcakes. It’s that good.
There’s also something else about the cupcakes that might strike someone as being a bit out of place. Yogurt. Greek yogurt to be exact. It replaces the oil beautifully and guess what’s even better? Not one of my trusted testers (ie eager family and friends) could tell the difference between this cake and the regular recipe with oil in it. Which means… This entire recipe, while sugar laden, is almost fat free! Which could possibly lead to more cupcake eating. Hey, don’t blame me.
And did I mention that good things don’t come easy? Well, they don’t. These pretty lil things took me three trys to get right. Try number one – they blew up like little balloons. Try number two – UFOs in my cupcake pan. Disasters yes. But they were yummy disasters. Try number three and it was just right.
So without further ado, I present you all with one of the most delicious desserts I have made to date.
Dark Chocolate, Brown Sugar and Beet Stout Cake (or Dark Chocolate Triple B Cake) with Beet Meringue Frosting:
2 cup brown sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup hershey’s Dark Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt (or oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling stout (such as guiness)
½ c roasted and grated beets
1-2 tsp coffee/expresso granules or powder (adjust to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 cupcake pans.
2. Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly. Mix yogurt, eggs, vanilla and milk. Add to dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for two minutes. (A handmixer or stand mixer works best here!)
3. Add boiling stout and mix well until combined, the batter will be thin – don’t worry!
4. Bake cupcakes for 17-18 minutes or until they spring back to the touch.
Beet Meringue Frosting:
8 Large egg whites
2 c granulated sugar
As much pulverized/pureed beet as you want to add – I eyeballed it. I think it was about 1/4 cup. This is mostly for color so don’t stress out!
½ tsp cream of tartar (find in the spice or baking aise)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
1. Mix all ingredients in a heatproof bowl.
2. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until, if you rub the mixture between your (clean!) fingers, the sugar has dissolved, 3-4 minutes.
3. Using whisk attachment, start on a low setting and gradually increase to high – this will take about seven to five minutes or until stiff peaks form when you lift the whisk. (And I mean stiff! not dry, but stiff enough to hold its form when piped or spread.)
To finish cupcakes: When the cupcakes are cooled, pipe or spread frosting onto them and, if you want , poke it with a toothpick, knife or finger to get spikes like mine have.
Note: Although this wasn’t the case for me, I’ve heard that this frosting won’t last long so if you are making the cupcakes ahead of time, wait until the last minute to frost! I’ve also heard it does miserable in humid conditions so don’t cover it.
Chocolate Cake based loosely on the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe.
Idea for the Beet portion from the ever inspiring Joy the Baker.
Stout cakes from Foodgawker.
Meringue Frosting adapted from Martha Stewart’s 7 Minute Frosting.
Always remember to always keep it sweet!
Oh and p.s – this blog has a secret. I wonder if anyone can guess it? It will be obvious after several posts and I’ll reveal it then – but see if you can catch the overall theme!