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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Hangover

I am having a serious holiday hangover.  Not an alcohol hangover, or a food hangover, but just general malaise related to the holidays.  It felt like the holiday season was longer than ever this year--I don't know whether it is that Hanukkah was early or the party rounds started even earlier.  All I know is that I have an absolute inability to make small talk anymore.  I need a vacation.

It probably doesn't help that I am directing a show these holidays and we open in ten days.  It's a very intellectual play called Freud's Last Session, which imagines a conversation that Freud would have had with C.S. Lewis (a/k/a the theologian who wrote the Narnia books).  I'm not sure I have the requisite brain cells for this show some days.

I did manage, though, to make this month's Cake Slice pick--Mississippi Mud cupcakes with marshmallow frosting.  The cupcakes made the rounds of two parties on Saturday, plus went to a rehearsal. 

The frosting took a little work, but the cupcakes were a snap--use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and add about a cup of chopped pecans. 

As for the frosting?  Let's just say I ate spoonfuls of it out of the bowl.  I adapted the original recipe slightly to decrease the amount of sugar and increase the vanilla.

Marshmallow Frosting
Adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup water
4 large egg whites
1/8 tsp. fine salt
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir together the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small pot over medium heat.  Bring this to a boil, then cover with a lid and boil for an additional two minutes.

Uncover the pot and let it cook until a candy thermometer registers around 240 degrees, which is the soft ball stage for candy.

While the syrup is cooking, add the eggs whites and salt to the bowl of a stand mixture and whip them into firm peaks.  When the whites are at the firm peak stage, transfer the syrup to a measuring cup with a lip and then pour it gradually down the side of the mixing bowl. 

Keep whipping the egg white mixture until the peaks are very firm, then add the vanilla and whip the mixture again briefly.

Makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes and some eating out of the bowl.