About five minutes into making Valentine’s Day cards, Amaya got up to leave.
“Where are you going? We’re making Valentines! That’s the plan!” I said, alarmed.
She walked away without one bit of guilt or even one backwards glance at her abandoned list of friends who would have one less Valentine.
To top it off, my culinary class was supposed to make cupcakes, and I forgot the flour.
I mean, who said cupcakes have to have flour anyway? Why are we forced to give Valentines on February 14th? Why does an argument have so much more weight on an arbitrarily assigned day of the year?
Basically, every week I have to drag my entire kitchen to my car, from my car to my classroom, then my classroom to the kitchen classroom, and then back again. So when I came back from my all day field trip in time for 7th period, there was no time to problem solve having no flour. My google searches for "substitutions for flour” weren’t going to save me.
I apologized to my students, and the grumbling from those teenagers was even louder than my own grumbling. What if you were promised an hour to cook and then had to write notes on leaveners instead?
I tried to salvage my own romantic Valentine’s Day by ordering takeout. Both places I thought would be appreciated happened to close early on Monday. I went to the store to get some inspiration, and by the time I got home, it was already time for dinner. I basically completely failed to do anything for my significant other. And I had to ruin the rest of our evening because now I had to make 90 red velvet cupcakes.
Today I brought in the cupcakes. My friend, co-owner of the local cake shop Paradise Pastries, came in to talk with my class about her expertise, and made us some Italian Buttercream.
She whipped up that buttercream like someone who could do that in sleep. I was impressed. I’m very impressed by anything that requires thermometers, whipped egg whites, sugar that could burn your skin off, and pounds of butter. There’s a lot that can go wrong with this recipe. The variables are hard to account for. She could make that alchemy work up into a perfect sweet frosting while I struggled to work out using a phone to order take out.
Stress momentarily melted into that pillowy buttercream. If this is what Italians eat, get me on a plane right this moment. I may have eaten more cupcakes than I originally intended. I’m not normally a frosting person, but I was basically using the cupcake like a plate for frosting.
We played around with decorating, and let’s just say that my technique could use some work. One of my students seems to have a knack for food styling, and she made a rose on her first try. My cupcakes look like Zac Efron’s hair. The “all bangs” look.
I came home to a surprise. These nun orchids have been my Valentine’s Day staple since we first started dating in 2000.
That’s something I can count on.
Valentine’s Day magic lives on. Even a day late.
My friend normally makes a lot more buttercream than you would need, and buys egg whites by the bucket, but this recipe is closest I could find online to what she used.
I made Annie’s Red Velvet Cupcakes. Easy peasy. Even 90 of them.
Wilton’s website is a great source for decorating techniques using buttercream frosting. Something I will be studying.