Friday, February 26, 2010

Hope springs eternal, in the form of cupcakes.

Darlings. Please forgive the voice of this blog post. It's really written for other blogs of mine. But I just had to share my joy with you! For those few of you who read this blog and are coming to the wedding, I gotta say, you are gonna enjoy these effing cupcakes. :D

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Remember all those issues I was having with trying to get someone to bake me a vegan wedding cake? I had practically resolved myself to baking my own when I got an email from a vegan-network-friend of mine who lives on the Northshore. One of her friends opened up a bakery in Mandeville a few months ago, she wrote, and baked vegan cupcakes pretty regularly.

To which I said, YES PLEASE THANK YOU.

My parents are not so into the idea of a cupcake tower for the wedding, but they'll suck it up. I admit, I did have my heart set on a "real" cake for a while, but a delicious, gorgeous, vegan presentation is what it comes down to.

And after my meeting with KC of KC's Babycakes, I am absolutely convinced that it's exactly what I'll have. She came highly recommended from a trusted source, which is always good. But you just never know, particularly with vegan baked goods I think, until you sit down and sink your teeth in. This is precisely what I did last Monday. KC spent two full hours with me, and as those of you who know me are well aware, that is a LONG time to spend with me when I'm really excited about something. I sampled six (count them, six) different flavors of her vegan cupcakes. Somehow, each was more extraordinary than the last. You want to hear about them, don't you?

Cookies n cream: a crazy moist rich chocolate cupcake with just a hint of almond, topped with an intensely sweet vanilla buttercream speckled with crumbled oreo-style cookies, crowned with a whole cookie nestled in the middle for good measure. This is an excellent showcase for just how good a simple (but extremely well-baked) chocolate cupcake can be.

Coconut and Coffee: a subtly flavored caramel brown coconut cupcake, slathered in rich coffee buttercream then rimmed with a ring of toasted coconut shavings. Gourmet, doubtless; this cupcake is somehow simultaneously exotic and extravagant while also being comforting and homey. It may be KC's favorite of her vegan creations; me, I am having a very difficult time choosing a favorite.

Vanilla Chocolate Swirl: a basic made fancy, two moist and delicious cakes marbled in the cup and topped with a generous helping of vanilla buttercream, finished with miniature chocolate chips. It's hard to describe how decadent this cakelet is as it sounds so simple, so you'll just have to believe me.

Lemon Macadamia: a lightly lemon cupcake punctuated with chunks of real macadamia nuts, topped with a pungent, bright frosting made with real fresh lemon juice, and finally rimmed with colored sugar for a look that is both sophisticated and fun. (This one happens to be modeling the cupcake wrapper I've chosen - "Aloha" from Paper Orchid. Many thanks to KC for cluing me in on this new cupcake trend!)

Banana Split: here's where we really start getting crazy! A cupcake with a banana bread like consistency - because it's made with real banana, making it ultra dense and moist with true banana flavor - but sweeter and with mini chocolate chips in it. Then topped in a lush twirl of delicately banana flavored buttercream frosting. The cupcakes I tasted were sprinkled with pecans and then topped with a cherry, which was a great finish. However, to be more friendly to my nut-allergic guest(s), for the wedding they'll be drizzled in chocolate ganache before being cherried. Too divine!

Wedding Cake: a flavor that I *believe* was developed just for me! In case you don't know, in New Orleans there is a flavor actually known as "wedding cake flavor" - you can order it at any good snowball stand. It's generally a creamy almond flavor, and it's been a tradition at Nola nuptials since anyone can remember. This cupcake did not disappoint. A perfectly dense, moist, rich, creamy lightly almond and vanilla white cupcake, topped with wonderfully rich almond buttercream, and finished with the most darling candy pearls you'd ever wish to see. Simple and elegant, this is the flavor that really made the set for me. We'll also have a 6" cake atop the tower that will be baked from this batter. I really couldn't be more pleased with how this one came out.

I'll stop killing you with cupcake descriptions now - except to say that we actually haven't decided between doing the cookies n cream described above, or a classic red velvet. I didn't get to sample KC's red velvet, but based on what I've seen and tasted, I have zero doubt that it is exquisite. And I can't help thinking of some kind of chocolate-and-strawberry concoction... Maybe a small groom's cake? What can I say? Life is full of so many difficult decisions.

Some day soon I'll tell you what happens when you take a dozen of the fabulous cupcakes described above over to the only vegetarian restaurant in town (Cafe Bamboo), have a couple of Abitas, and start getting generous. But that, loves, is a story for another day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Anxiety reigns. (And what else is new? they say...)

So tomorrow morning (early!) I fly down to New Orleans. I'm going to see my neurologist there to see if we can crack the code of the wicked headaches I've been having. But mostly it's a wedding prep trip, and every day is more or less packed:

Friday: The caterer comes by mom's place to scope the layout. Not sure she heard me when I told her it's really not a big place. Then hopefully dinner with Thom and Weber wherein I gently cajole them into their wedding day duties.

Saturday: Go out with dad to buy copious amounts of liquor with which we will stock the bar. Then to Gordon's of Metairie (where I may just have to buy this) to try to find a bird cage type thing for people to put gift cards into? I think? Possibly spray paint as well if it's ugly. And maybe some kind of tablecloth to put on the piano? Still gotta break it to Mom that that's where I want to set up the guest book...

Sunday: massage and facial at Earthsavers! I've never had a facial before. Yes, I am 32. What's your point? Then swing by the bed and breakfast type place where Jonathan and I will be staying on the wedding night and for the week afterward to make sure everything is squared away with the room. I made reservations online, but... it's just not really an online kind of place, you know? Plus they're super nice, and it's in a neighborhood I like to be in anyway.

Monday: neurologist, woo. And THEN, the most exciting thing ever! I get to drive to the Northshore (not so exciting) to meet with my baker about my VEGAN CUPCAKE TOWER!! Totally the most exciting thing ever, am I right? The flavors I should get to try that day are chocolate vanilla marble, lemon macadamia, toasted coconut with coffee buttercream, and banana split. Dear god I am in cupcake heaven. All that, plus a sample of the 6" cake that will be atop the tower: some almond apricot confection that she's whipping up. Yes, I am truly psyched. I'm finishing off the trip with a visit to Cafe Bamboo, New Orleans' only all-vegetarian restaurant. Gotta support, you know.

It should be a fun trip, a busy trip. Hopefully I will continue to *not* feel like crap so that I can actually use my time there. I am excited - I have been really, really missing New Orleans lately. But I'm quite anxious as well. Wedding jitters maybe, but I think my recent health and work issues are making it much more severe and complex than it would be otherwise. Last night I was in Ann Taylor, of all places, looking for a jacket to wear with my dress for the rehearsal dinner, and I just completely lost it. Practically burst into tears while checking out. The poor girl at the register had no idea what to think.

There's nothing particularly wrong - things are going progressively more smoothly and falling into place one by one. I shipped the flowers down to my mom and they arrived unharmed! I'm carrying my dress on tomorrow to reduce the risk of injury. The response cards are arriving daily, all with the answers we were expecting, and there have even been a couple of checks. I think it's just... a lot to deal with. The current status of my life (between my hatred of my job / inability to leave it, and my health issues that I can't get under control) is enough to bring me to tears, so you throw a wedding in there as well and it's really not surprising that I'm getting panicky.

At least I have my bunny rabbit for solace. He is so happy these days that he has begun running a circle around his favorite perching area every time we come see him. It's the cutest thing ever. It's nice to have that little spot of unadulterated joy in my life when so many other things are crazy. The only thing that stresses me about him is leaving him for two weeks! How will I live without that little bunny face? =:3