Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Plans You Can’t Count On and Italian Buttercream

IMG_3946Valentine’s Day is NOT a day that anyone likes to feel disappointed.

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.

IMG_3936She looked at me with her little four year old squint and said, with a side pinched mouth, “That was your plan. That wasn’t my plan! I just want to have fun!”

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.

IMG_3937IMG_3938Predictably, for our Valentine’s Day, my hub and I were having a bit of a squabble about “adult stuff” and acting like kids about it.

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?

Bah. Humbug.

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.

IMG_3961She 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. IMG_3963

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.



marla said...

You are adorable!! Sorry to hear the 14th was a bit stressful - but amazing how the Italian buttercream melted your heart :) That is my go-to cake frosting. Love the stuff and your beautiful orchids :) xxoo

Meg Luby said...

valentine's day is a day that can be really REALLY upsetting if you let it become more than it is in your mind. i have had my share of these hectic, stress days, i feel your pain <3 your story is so sweet, i love how it resolves at the end :)
i've learned what you now seem to have shown us so well: let valentine's day flow as it likes to and sometimes it can be a pleasant surprise. otherwise, oy vey! what a day, haha
love your blog. thanks for sharing a piece of your life :)

Eliana said...

Your baby is a smart girl. And at a young age, is a woman that knows what she wants and I love that.

Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} said...

Sorry you had a stressful day! That's totally something I would do--forget the main ingredient of a teaching lesson. Your photos are beautiful, as usual.

Mariko said...

Marla: You are a sweet pick-me-up, always.
Meaghan: Thank you for the compliments. I totally agree. That's the thing about Holidays and birthdays, right?
Eliana: All that and more. :)
Maryea: Thanks Maryea. I'm trying to learn from my mistakes. ;P

jalna said...

I love your use of words, and your photos are outstanding. Love your blog!

Cakewhiz said...

That looks like so much fun but tiring so i understand why you were so exhausted. I love italian buttercream too. It tastes amazing!

Smiths said...

Love this. I feel like my life will suddenly be better with this recipe. Maybe that's why I eat everything chocolate in sight after the kids go to sleep. Hmmmmm.

Happy Nun Orchid Day!

FootPrints said...

valentines shamlentines!
our house was not fun on v-day.
all my kids were in time out for the day.
no one got presents.
the gifts are still on the corner cause it just seems lame now.
i do love your cards though...very cute.

Anonymous said...

The flowers are beautiful, quite aw really. V-day.... hm... I didn't celebrate it so much... never thought I'd say that.. I'm the type that never misses a holiday.... will be doing some major make-up time this weekend... "giggles!

Christine Wu said...

I think our kids were separated at birth :P I like to think about it this way, in the future we don't have to worry about peer pressure, because their resistance to be influenced.

Happy belated Valentine's!

chow and chatter said...

oh my what a day for you so sorry but you got flowers and love

shana squier said...

Beautiful flowers. And I want a flour-free Zac cupcake:) Amaya always makes me laugh. I'm happy you post about her.

Stephanie said...

Mariko this is great! I just love your words. I want this buttercream... and I too and intimidated by all those variables generally because I always manage to screw it up somehow. Butter, cream= what's not to love. Anyway, thanks for writing. And someday I want to sit down with you, and some delicious food, and tell you about the time I held my tears in until I got to my car after the worst day of class I have ever had. Not to dump on you, but for some reason I feel you would understand. The end.

Tanvi said...

Ohh...little one throwing tantrums cute.But I m sure flowers wud have made your day.And you put all this so beautiful with words.Buttercream looks perfect.

Prerna@IndianSimmer said...

What a beautiful post! n I'd say you've a PERFECT Valentine's day! Loved reading through the story of ur whole day but the best part was ur li'l one's reply to u :-)
Don't they teach you anything n everything in the best way possible?!
happy Valentine's Day to you!

Kulsum@JourneyKitchen said...

oh your little one's reply just melts my heart :-) Such a heart warming post. I call it perfection!

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