i remember very clearly, five years ago, meeting GM. it was freshman orientation at TJ and i remember what she was wearing, how it was raining, and that one of the first things she told me was that she wanted to go to college in London (talk about making your dreams come true). a couple days later, we were already best friends and the topic of birthdays came up. “mine’s november 23rd,” i told her, standing next to those blue lockers by the Latin classroom. i will never forget how she squealed when i said that and how she told me hers was only two days before mine, on the 21st. i remember squealing/screaming/dancing with her, and i remember people walking past us and secretly judging us for being cray cray.
then about an hour later, she asks me: “wait did i just tell you that my birthday is on the 21st? … well. it’s actually on the 20th. i think.”
so there we have it everyone: i may proud of my graciepoo for being so beautiful and smart and making her dreams come true to study in the UK right now, but she can never remember her own birthday. you can imagine how much the rest of us try to confuse her whenever this time of year comes around.
so even though her birthday was “technically” yesterday, it’s actually today. right, graciepoo? shadow of the what? pub can’t even handle who right now? is that miranda cosgrove i hear on the radio right now? hehe. no but seriously, i love you graceface and i wish we could be throwing one of our PPP birthday parties together this year… i hate that we’re separated on your birthday (whenever it may be) but i know the snugglybears will be assembled soon when we’re home for the holidays.
milk tea cupcakes w/ crème fraîche frosting
of course this has to include tea. we’re talking england, after all. if you love cupcakes that are on the less-sweet side, this one is for you.
let’s start with the milk tea cupcakes. the first step is to make the milk tea of course.
boil 1 cup of milk (making sure not to scorch it) and steep your tea as directed. i used a combination of tazo green and earl grey, but you could use your favorite (:
while the milk soaks up all that good tea, mix together your dry ingredients in a bowl. 2 1/4 cups of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, & a pinch of salt. in another bowl, cream together 3/4 cup of butter and 2 cups of sugar. when well incorporated, add 3 eggs, one at a time, then a dash of vanilla.
now to mix the dry with the wet ingredients. to make the smoothest, lightest batter, you need to take another large bowl, and start with about 1/3 of the dry mixture. then mix in 1/3 of the wet mixture. alternate dry then wet, dry then wet. this goes for almost all cake batters! now you’re ready to distribute into cupcake molds.
while these bake in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes, let’s work on the frosting.
crème fraîche is a very smooth cream with a slightly nutty flavor. it’s originally french, but you can find it in the dairy section at most stores. OR you can make your own! this requires about 24 hours for the process to finish, so planning ahead is advised.
you’ll need 1 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon buttermilk. in a saucepan over low heat, warm the cream but don’t heat it all the way to boiling. removed from the heat, stir in the buttermilk to the cream. the buttermilk has all sorts of goodies that will help transform the cream. pour this liquid into a glass jar or bowl and let it stand in a warm place with just some plastic wrap over it. let it rest for 24 hours, and stir it every every 8 hours or so, making sure your cream is slowly thickening. this cream can stay in the fridge for a week or so!
now to learn how to whip this crème fraîche into frosting. you’ll need: a very cold bowl, a very cold whisk, and very cold cream. i like to keep my bowl and whisk in the freezer for a few minutes before i start. if you have a hand mixer or stand mixer, all you have to do is set it at a medium speed and then slowly raise it up to a higher speed. add some powdered sugar and vanilla until your cream reaches semi-stiff peaks. i live in a dorm, so i don’t have a mixer.
i did it the old fashioned way - with a lot of arm power, anger, switching between hands, getting tired, recruiting my neighbor to help me, and eventually whipping the heck out of that frosting.
once your smooth and milky cupcakes are cooled, use a pipette bag or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off to top them off with the perfect light, nutty, slightly sweet, floaty frosting.
wish i could royal mail these to you graceface. happy birthday, welcome to your 20’s! love you