Over the past year or so, I’ve really fallen in love with cooking—my intermittent access to kitchens undoubtedly makes it more romantic than utilitarian, but I’ve gone from aping recipes to adapting them. I spent much of my winter holiday perfecting an apple muffin recipe, which is part of my ongoing quest to replace butter and oil in recipes with yogurt and applesauce. (Why? Something something health something something lactose intolerance?) Cooking is certainly a science, but I prefer to think of it as an adventure in alchemy—with delicious results! And this fine, freezing morning (why are you snowing Georgia I thought we were friends), I thought it was high time share those delicious results with you.
I should probably warn you about the kind of eater I am, however. Much as I’ll read anything once, I’ll eat anything once. This sounds like a cute motto until you find yourself craving blood pudding in front of a crowd of vegetarians. In fact, yesterday, during a neighborhood exhibition in Decatur, I accidentally dragged two vegetarian friends of mine into a charcuterie and had moved onto the bacon jam before I realized that we needed to leave. (I don’t even like bacon!) I’ve discovered the precise amount of Shocktarts necessary to make your tongue bleed, I adore curry that you have to cool off with your own tears, and I once made a batch of cookies that came to me in a nightmare. I guess this is what happens when the genetic cocktail shaker spits out a lactose intolerant supertaster, but I just wanted to give you a fair warning.
With that firmly in mind, here are my Red 40 Cupcakes. Well, my—you can’t actually copyright a recipe, did you know that? They’re instructions, so they fall outside of that jurisdiction! The more you know. Still, I adapted a recipe and, upon mixing, was greeted with a whiff of something that reminded me of nothing else so much as strawberry Baby Bottle Pop powder. As a kid, I’d rent something from the local Blockbuster (which is now closed, of course) and buy a strawberry Baby Bottle Pop to go with the film, so that was a major nostalgia bomb for me. My friends and I have designated that indeterminate strawberry-cherry-watermeleon candy flavor Red 40, hence the name.
Given the fact that the flavoring is derived from flavored gelatin, you can substitute any flavor you so desire for the strawberry gelatin. Also, as the recipe calls for six ounces of Greek yogurt (the usual amount for a single serving tub of the stuff), you can use flavored Greek yogurt to punch up the flavor further. However, strawberry Greek yogurt (at least the Chobani kind) aims to taste like real strawberries, and the point here is fake strawberries, so it can confuse the flavor profile. Keep that in mind if you’re going for, say, real lemon flavor over candy lemon flavor. I don’t particularly care for frosting, so I put chocolate candy into the cupcakes instead; these are optional.
1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry gelatin
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup (6 oz) plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
Chocolate Candies (Hershey’s Kisses, M&Ms) (optional)
Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix together the cold water and the gelatin. Stir in the cake mix, eggs, yogurt, and flour. If adding chocolate candies, put two tablespoons of cupcake batter in each cupcake liner. Place chocolate candy in the center of the cupcake. Cover with batter, filling the cupcake liner halfway. Bake for 18 to 21 minutes.
This week’s links:
- Hilary Mantel writes about “Royal Bodies” at the London Review of Books; while I’m a little turned off by the fact she cops to being snobbish enough to not read certain kinds of books (this omnivore does not approve!), it’s still a fascinating article on how we abstract royals to their flesh.
- Britt Hayes at Screen Crush brings attention to the fact that the only actor working right now who could believably play a young Han Solo is Jennifer Lawrence. The gender essentalist language is not appreciated, but it’s true how similar Lawrence and original flavor Ford are—the swagger, the constant, low-level sarcasm, throwing away a one-liner like nobody’s business.
- “The Extraordinary Science of Junk Food” at The New York Times Magazine explores how junk food is sold to us and manufactured to us. Fascinating.
- “The Ghost Writes Back” at the Kenyon Review finds a former ghostwriter for the Sweet Valley High series reflecting on the intersection between her work and academia.
- In the aftermath of the Oscars, Tim Wise breaks down the difference between institutional racism and individual racism.
- In a similar, but much more personal, vein: Roxane Gay’s “How a Wound Heals” at The Rumpus.
- Wired shows us how Cheetos are made.
- At Soshified, a website devoted to Korean pop group Girls’ Generation, writer SNSDave touches on how fans often see devotion in terms of money (especially if merchandise is difficult to get in a fan’s country).
- A much better Bond montage than what we got at the Oscars. It takes a lot to tie together the tones of all of the films, but I got chills at the how the montage ends.
- Physicist David Neevel created a brutal Oreo Separator Machine. It’s reality that plays like comedy; the editing is especially sparkling.
- Steve Hyden’s The Winners’ History of Rock and Roll concluded with the Black Keys a few weeks ago.
Tell me about your culinary adventures! And let me know if you want to see more recipes.