Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD: Tacky Tacky Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes


It's fall, my favorite season. I know that because the calendar tells me so. I know it because I see lots of apples, pumpkins and butternut squash showing up on my favorite food blogs. And because there is a huge haunted house inside Target. Therefore, I choose to ignore the 80 degree weather outside, and do what I've done every fall since I moved to the South, and dress myself and my children for what I wish the weather to be, not for what the weather actually is, and sweat my way through another beautiful Alabama October.

My kids are in the fall spirit, too. The other night, they told me that they wanted to decorate for Halloween. And before I could stop myself, I had a pleasant little daydream about fall decorating. I visualized rooms like this:



With maybe a pretty pumpkin/gourd display like this on the front porch:



I imagined hues of red, gold and orange; natural elements that evoke the essence of autumn; fallen leaves, pumpkins, mums. But it turns out that this vision of fall decorating was not even close to the one that my children had in mind, so instead, we went with the iridescent "HAPPY HALLOWEEN" banner:



When I see homes or garden displays similar to the ones above on HGTV, or in magazines, they will usually describe it as something like "understated elegance." Well, my children vastly prefer a decorating style that would be better described as "overstated excessiveness," which, if I recall correctly, was very popular in the 70s.

So on the mantel, we have this:




Yes, that's a plastic black cat flashlight, and an eyeball that rolls around randomly and blares the theme to "The Adams Family" at a decibel level previously only heard at Metallica concerts.

Friendly ghost and monster hanging out on the rocking chair along with needlepoint pillow of the Rotunda at UVA (Go Hoos!):



And the trash bag ghost hanging in the corner of the den! My son made that in kindergarten last year:



Here on an end table, we have glow-in-the-dark skeletons resting against my son's picture, half of a Little People Halloween play set (the people are missing), and a monster that dances and sings "Superfreak."




I say that when you have a theme going, you just need to run with it. Maybe someday I can do "tasteful," but for now, "tacky" carries the day, and that's just fine by me. Tacky is much more fun. So I decided that we would fully embrace my children's "more is more" philosophy when making these Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes, which were chosen by the always fun and talented Clara of iheartfoodforthought. I am sure that many mega-talented TWD bakers made a stunningly elegant presentation of these cupcakes, and I cannot wait to check them all out. Us? We thought it would be best if the cupcakes matched the rest of the house, so I gave the kids full creative license in decorating these. And they took their jobs very seriously:



Because only by maintaining their steely focus could they ensure that no square millimeter of cupcake was left candy cornless.




Making the cupcakes was uneventful, which is an event in itself around here. The batter was highly lickable, and created some lofty expectations for the cupcakes. In fact, a bowl of this batter, a spoon, a comfy chair and a copy of People magazine might just be my personal definition of heaven.



The cupcakes looked like cupcakes when they came out of the oven:



Amanda made these a few weeks early and told me that next time she'd take them out of the oven a few minutes earlier, as she thought they were a tad on the dry side. I followed her advice and took them out after 20 minutes. They were definitely done by then, and I agreed with Amanda that they were a little dry. Dorie writes that these have a "close crumb," which may be world-renowned bakerspeak for "they're a little dry." Keep in mind that I don't have a particularly sophisticated palate, though, as evidenced by the fact that up until just last week, if the occasion called for chocolate cupcakes, I would have called on my good friend Betty Crocker Super Moist (which is, well, SUPERMOIST!!) But the flavor was great, and anyway, who would even notice the relative dryness/moistness of my cupcakes under all those Jack 'o Lantern Peeps?

The frosting, er, ganache, was wonderful. I used milk chocolate instead of bittersweet because I was trying to appeal to a youthful crowd. We had a lot of fun with these!! Clara, thanks for picking a fun recipe that helped us get into the Halloween spirit in the way that only an inverted candy corn nose can!

54 comments:

Natashya said...

Yay! First to comment!
I love that you got your kids in on it. My little girl decorated ours too, although she is 19. (you are never too old to decorate cupcakes!)
Looks like you guys had a lot of fun with this one.

Karen said...

Tacky? Nah!! Kid friendly and super fun memory! :) Someday we will have our understated elegance! :) Cute cupcakes!

Andrea said...

Andrea said...
Awww, I just love how important this task of decorating cupcakes is to children :) Sorry yours didn't turn out so super moist, I really was surprised at how well ours ended up...at least you had a fun family baking experience. I wish I had photos of our lack of 'understated elegance' ... instead of an iridescent banner, we have black sparkle halloween garland with iridescent ghosts and pumpkins - HA! I think I'll have to take some photos and post them before Halloween just for you so you won't feel so alone in your silly kid decor. It's all in good fun, and I'm sure your kids will treasure these silly decorations when they are older.

n.o.e said...

Now those look like cupcakes that I could dig into! Except the inverted nose one is just too cute to eat. Hey, if that elegance really is so understated, why is it all over the magazines, anyway?
Nancy

natalia said...

Ciao ! I love your decorations !I made mine for my mother birthday so they are almost normal but I'm posting on the 1st some for Sweet and simple bakes that my kids made with me !

SiHaN said...

loving the decorations ard your house. Never get a chance here in Asia. haha. Well done with those chocolate monsters as well. They look absolutely adorable!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Your cupcakes are perfect! Your "decorators" did a great job! I miss those days....

Debinhawaii said...

I bet none of those understated holiday decor schemes have Superfreak and The Adams Family theme playing. Quiet and boring! Yours is much better and your cupcakes are adorable!

Jamie said...

Your cupcakes are so cute and kidd-o friendly! I love the nose on that last one!! :)

Laura said...

My kids love to decorate in the same style yours do :-) - there'll be plenty of time for that other look later (and we'll miss all that overstated excessiveness badly!). Please pass along my kudos to your kids for an outstanding decorating job. You're right, it doesn't look like they missed a spot and that takes skills that only those 10 and under can master. I'm planning (note that key word) to make some sugar cookies and let my kids go to town with pumpkin shaped sprinkles.

Peggy said...

Cathy they look great. Sorry they were dry. Love your decorations! It is the way it should be - all about the kids. Who cares if they look perfect anyway as long as they TASTE good. I think yours do look perfectly decorated. I'm jealous in fact. :)

Prudy said...

Hey, I recognize those Target pjs! My little girl has those too. I love the shot of your kids decorating cupcakes. I love your real people decorations too. My kids have taken over the hallway with their decorations and dubbed it the spooky hallway. I can only take about five more days of it before I will go mad and rip it down. There are decorations all over the floor, lights too, and I've already stepped on a plug. Now I take the long way around just to avoid the spooky hallway. Your cupcakes look wonderful!

Pamela said...

I like that "no square milimeter was left candy corn-less"! You always make me laugh, Cathy! Love the last pic, with the candy corn nose on that peep pumpkin. The milk chocolate sounds like a good sub in the ganache.

HoneyB said...

I'm still trying to do elegant, but I just don't seem to have that knack. Now Grumpy, he actually has a sense for how things should look. He'd kill me if he knew I said that on the internet. lol.

Mary-Irene said...

Hi there! I'm your newest fan, I found you over on Bridgett's blog (LaBella Cook). I just love how you've gotten your kids into the action! These look delicious and your house looks great!

Lady Baker said...

ok, send some fun ghosts and glow-in-the dark stuff my way--we have no festive stuff besides some pumpkins outside!
Love the candy-corn nose--creative!!
(Can't wait to see the kids Christmas decor--and I bet they rock it on Arbor Day)

CB said...

I feel the same way! Its like 80s here in CA and I keep asking myself "Where's fall?" I love all your Halloween decor. The iridescent "Happy Halloween" is awesome ;) I think its great that you and your kids had so much fun with these cupcakes. Isn't that what baking is about? Sharing with family and friends... Thanks for baking with me this week!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

Maria said...

Love the decorations!! Hopefully they will help it feel more like fall. The cupcakes look terrific!! Love the candy additions!!

Spike said...

looks like you guys had fun! tacky is always more fun than tasteful, well for halloween at least!

Di said...

I love your decorations! I had no idea they made Halloween peeps. =) We have some tacky decorations, too--there's a stuffed Halloween vulture (or "birdie" as Gillian says) on my kitchen table. =)

Mary Ann said...

I don't think your decorations are tacky at all! It just looks like you have children at home. I love that you let them decorate these. And I am so, so, so jealous that I don't live in the South! Can I tell you how much I miss those 80 degree Octobers? We have already had temps below freezing. Oh, the jealousy! jk
Sorry these turned out a little dry. They still look so cute!

Cathy said...

Lis: Oh yes, Arbor Day is big around here, and we REALLY blow it out on Groundhog's Day. Especially if Phil sees his shadow.

Di: The "birdie!!" Ha! This is why I just love children! They make everything fun!

Prudy: The Spooky Hallway sounds like quite the Halloween hub! That's what I need to do next year -- designate a "spooky hallway" instead of a "spooky whole house." Because fun as it's been, after three or four weeks of eyeballs singing at you whenever you turn off the lights, you start feel a little like the narrator in "The Raven" (in keeping with our Halloween theme).

kim said...

lol, embrace the tacky! ;) glad the flavor was good, even if they were dry. i think next time i will fill them with that glaze and top with chocolate buttercream... yess :)

Teanna said...

I LOVE The candy corn and there is a haunted house in Target?! AMAZING! I'd never leave! And I'm all about the decorating. I can't wait to have kids so that it's ok that I decorate and not weird! haha! Love it!

Anne said...

Those look so cute and I love that your kids took charge. I always see beautiful fall decorating photos and feel the same way as you (but we are definitely still in the little people stage!)

Amy said...

These are so cute! Your kids did a fantastic job! I bet this was a fun project for your family!! So cute!

-Amy
www.singforyoursupperblog.com

Candy said...

So cute. I like your kids style sense!

Nikki57 said...

They're not tacky, they're made by kids which makes them adorable! Great job

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

The cupcakes turned out adorable and I love how you got the kids involved with all the cooking and decorating. :)

Flourchild said...

Your decorating visions sound like mine! I dream of how my house SHOULD look and well...it doesn't quite look that way when Im done!
I think your cupcakes are far from tacky. The best baked goods are the ones made with love...and your kids helping, smiling and having fun is the best gift ever! I love your blogs!

Audrey said...

But I have that SAME chandelier! Wonderful cupcakes, beautiful family. What more could anyone ask for ? (and I'm glad I could help with dinner plans...)

chocolatechic said...

How adorable.

You did a great job!

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Super duper cupcakes. Your helpers did a great job, and yes, I spotted the pumpkin nose in the larger picture and thought it was a hoot. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love yours and will definitely be back. (BTW "Ghostess with the Mostess" apron? Loooove it!)

Flourchild said...

Hey me again! Thank you so much for the nice things you said about me on your cooking light blog..sorry I didn't see it before! Now do I answer those questions and tag 7?!

Cathy said...

Flourchild -- you can answer the questions and tag seven more if you feel like it, and not if you don't! Isn't that the best award ever?

Flourchild said...

OK COOL! As long as I don't turn into a frog or something scarey if I DON"T do it! I think I will though..it looks fun!!
I know your not a blog stocker..silly girl!!

Melissa said...

Very cute cupcakes. Made even more special with the personal touch! And all of your Halloween decorations are great... even if they don't look like they came from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens.

Marthe said...

Looks like the kids had lots of fun decorating these cupcakes! I think they look so cute!

bakingwiththeboys said...

These are the best cupcakes I have seen. Who knows Halloween excess better than kids. My own kids' favorite decoration is a (very) annoying skeleton that shakes and SCREAMS "Happy Halloween" over and over and over. We tried to buy some decorative (understated) gourds. They have been rolled around the room as bowling balls. I think you captured the spirit just right.

The Blonde Duck said...

I've seen your blog around and never stopped to say hi! I adore the cupcakes with candy corn!

Engineer Baker said...

Umm... tacky is the new tasteful, haven't you heard? :) Holidays are times for tacky, tasty little goodies.

Debbie said...

Love tacky!!! Love your kids decorating the cupcakes.

Flourchild said...

Gosh girl you are popular..I had to scroll about a mile down to leave another message..I promise Im not a stocker blogger freak! I just wanted to tell you to go check out my blog...I did the 7s..it took me forever..but girl it was a blast!!

SUGAR BETTY said...

The cupcakes look fun! Glad you involved the kids. So darn cute!

Matt said...

Understated elegance is vastly overrated. While I love it, it's not the thing kids will remember. (And just why is it that kids love those kitschy things so much? A mystery...)

As I'm sure I've said before, enjoy them while they are young. My son is filling out college apps right now, and I for one want him to stay home...

Leslie said...

Good idea to pull them out early. I love your decorations!

Bridgett said...

All of your decorations look fantastic and I bet the kids are super excited now for Halloween. I know mine have been driving me nuts about it all but they are having a blast. The cupcakes turned out perfectly and your kids are quite the budding pastry artists ;)

Jess said...

Tacky, or kitschy? Anyway, the cupcakes look great. It's fun to let the kids run with it now and then.

Jacque said...

Now that looks like my kind of cupcake! Mmmm, please send one over right away, OK? LOL

Nice job and please tell the decorators they did a fine job.

I adore candy pumpkins (salivating at the thought...)

Pamela said...

It's me...back again! I have another award for you! Stop by when you can.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I love all your overstated and excessive decorations for Halloween, especially the eyeball on the mantel. Your kids are lucky to be "sweating" through the season with you!

Julie said...

I think I need to borrow some of your little people to come over a decorate my house and my cupcakes. What are they doing say around Christmas time?

pinkstripes said...

I love the kid-decorated cupcakes. I think it is a universal trait of kids never to leave a millimeter of freespace on any thing they decorate.

It's still warm here too (southern california)...

AmyRuth said...

Isn't this why we do our baking? For our kids? They really are so cute and promise they will remember them, good fun. You are so sweet.
AmyRuth

 
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