So this post is long overdue and I could have sworn I had already typed something up weeks ago, but it seems that alas, I was wrong. My sincerest apologies to my good friend and neighbor Adrienne, whose birthday this post is about. Remember when I mentioned that I had four September birthday goods to prepare last month? Well this was one of those four. Let me tell you a little about Adrienne.
Adrienne and I met my first year (her second year) of grad school at a Mad Men themed party (for which I was not properly attired, nor had I even planned on attending) where copious amounts of drinking ensued. While I do not remember the majority of the conversations I had that evening, Adrienne does, and I’m told we discussed the fact that we both went to college only 40 minutes from each other, that she spoke at my alma mater’s Art History symposium the year before I did (though I did not attend her year since I was abroad in India) and that I left her post-party with a few choice words, while sufficiently sloshed and she knew instantly that we would become good friends. I’ll take her at her word, she’s not usually one to lie or exaggerate.
Fast-forward two years to when she moved into my ‘hood and we started a triple date club with our respective boyfriends and another fellow Astorian couple. We talk on a regular basis on Gchat and yet only see each other once a month or so since we’re both so fantastically popular and have very demanding schedules (please tell me you can read the sarcasm in this, though it is true that we do not see each other often enough for how close we live to each other).
Anyway, a little bit more about Adrienne personally. Every year for her birthday she hosts a black and white themed party because she loves zebras. This might not make sense to some of you, but I totally get it. I love cupcakes and wine, and every year I host a cupcakes and wine themed party. It all makes sense. I should also mention that the majority of her zebra paraphernalia (and let me tell you, she as a lot of zebra printed/themed items) are given to her as gifts. I find that I have the same issue with cupcake themed items, and my kitchen is currently overflowing with cupcake printed tea towels and oven mitts, much to the chagrin of The Daniels. This year I made cupcakes for Adrienne that were appropriately zebra-themed, and even busted out an old pair of pony hair zebra striped flats to wear to her party. That’s how good of a friend I am.
And while I have an affinity for all things cupcake, and Adrienne has an affinity for all things zebra, we do agree on one thing for certain: champagne is the nectar of the gods, and if we could, we would drink it every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Except neither of us are really classy enough for that (well I’m certainly not, but Adrienne probably is) and so we stick to our $15 bottles of Korbel on limited occasions. I figured that Adrienne’s birthday was the perfect time to bust out a boozy, zebra themed concoction and low and behold my new book The Boozy Baker had a fantastically champagne sodden cake recipe. It was as if the book knew that I would need this recipe for a dear friend.
Marbled Champagne Cupcakes
Adapted from The Boozy Baker
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
10 tbsp (1 stick plus 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups champagne (I bought a cheap $5 bottle and they still turned out fantastic, also the original recipe only called for 2/3 cup champagne but I read it wrong and added 2 cups and the cupcakes were none the worse for it)
5 large egg whites
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
Pre-heat oven to 350° and line cupcake tins with liners.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites one at a time mixing each until thoroughly incorporated. Beat the mixture on medium (or high with a handheld mixer) for another 1-2 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
In three additions add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the champagne, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter equally between two bowls. Add the cocoa powder to one of the bowls, thereby making a chocolate batter.
Using a small cookie scoop, or approximately 1 heaping tablespoon, alternate scoops of the two batters until the tins are ¾ full. If you’d like to create even more of a marbled effect lightly drag a clean knife through the batters to create a swirling or zig-zag pattern.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the tops spring back to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack. Makes 24 cupcakes.
I topped mine with a basic vanilla buttercream, a portion of which I tinted black with Wilton’s black gel icing color and then piped it on to create zebra stripes (I used a #3 Ateco tip, but in the future I think I will use a smaller one for less bulky stripes). Below is the recipe the author gives for a champagne buttercream – though I find that the use of a champagne flavoring in addition to actual champagne makes for a better flavor, especially since if you add too much champagne the frosting gets runny and gritty. LorAnn makes an excellent champagne flavoring.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
3 tbsp champagne
Cream together the butter and 2 cups of the powdered sugar until smooth. Add the milk and champagne and mix until thoroughly combined. With the mixer running on low, gradually 1-2 more cups of the powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.