delicious discourse

Sprinkles Cupcake Mix

Posted in whim by delicious:discourse on March 25, 2008

Red Velvet

For Christmas one of my oldest friends and I exchanged exactly the same gift–accidentally. The parallel reasoning behind the gift was pick the flavor most expressing the other person. Apparently Red Velvet is the Sprinkles Cupcake Mix flavor of yours truly and I had picked Vanilla for my old old friend (By old, I mean in terms of my life. When you are 23 years old and you have known someone for 18 years, that is an OLD friend). Vanilla because she is a blond through and through, not just in hair color, but in personality–in that she is bubbly and fun, never dull and certainly bright. Anyway, this explains how moi ended up with a box of cupcake mix (any sort of mix is cooking sin) in my very strict made-from-scratch-only kitchen. This past Easter weekend the mix caught my eye and I was curious as to what sort of joy red velvet could bring to my life and see if I could recognize any of myself in its’ flavors. However, I will state right now, Sprinkles Cupcake Mix is NOT how one should be introduced to any new sort of flavor or to baking in general. Throughout the entire boxed process I did not feel like I was baking, everything was backwards and fake, from the red color oozing from the bowl, to the order of adding ingredients. In regards to the latter, my very scientific boyfriend suggested that the order of ingredients must be due to re-hydrating the dehydrated mix. Weird. The first step was to take room temperature butter and beat it until creamy and smooth and then add the ENTIRE bag of mix and beat for another three minutes. Then you add slowly the milk with a teaspoon of vinegar added to it. This “procedure” creates not a dough-like substance, but a clay-like goop oozing an artificial red you do not want to get on your clothes. The batter then goes into cupcake tins in a muffin pan and bakes for about 20-25 minutes. Surprisingly, the batter actually rises and creates nice maroon (Aggies would be pleased) little cupcake mounds, which look quite enticing accessorized by silver cupcake tins. However pretty they may look, the cake has teeny tiny little holes and the outside has a weird chemical crispness to it. The icing is by far the best part, and the only step that is homemade, consisting of various amounts of the tried-and-true cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Once the “cakes” have cooled you are to ice them generously, I assume by the amount of icing made, and to top them off with a large “sprinkle” that comes with the mix, one for each of your twelve cupcakes. The end result is quite pretty, but once you bite into the chocolaty cake, is much less than everything you thought it would be. The cake had no texture, and I know most cake is not supposed to have a ton of texture, but this cake doesn’t even have the texture of minimal textured cake. The boyfriend and I did find a satisfactory way to eat once cupcake—slice the cupcake top off just above the cupcake tin line and eat like a muffin top—you get just enough chocolate cakey-ness to feel like you are not eating just delicious cream cheese icing.

My advice, skip the mixes no matter how fancy or how good the real thing is (I am sure Sprinkles cupcakes are close to divine if their reputation is any indication). The mix also defeats the whole Sprinkles philosophy–I pulled this from their website:

My great grandmother was renowned for the distinctive desserts she made at her San Francisco restaurant during the 1930’s. She created pure, delicious, uncomplicated pastries–the result of her French culinary roots and her new American working life. These days, as I sift, whisk and frost at the bakery I began with my husband in Beverly Hills, I imagine our scratch-baked cupcakes as a natural extension of my great grandmother’s legacy. As we continue the tradition of simple and satisfying desserts handcrafted from the best ingredients–not too precious, always just right–our hope is that Sprinkles Cupcakes will conjure up lovely memories of your own childhood or family, or simply the pleasure of good taste.

Go the extra mile and the ten extra steps. Believe me, it is always worth it.

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