Renaissance Cupcakes: A Review

Cupcakes can be more than a cake walk.


The finished product is sliced open, making the raspberry center visible.

“We were a dynamic duo, primed by adversity and the remainder of a Bahama Bucks sugar rush. This was a cake walk.””

— Essy Ingram

Caramel-coated light danced across the linoleum flooring, highlighting the dried up flakes of egg white, residue from the egg that got away. Just five minutes into gathering our raw ingredients, disaster ensues. The fallen embryo served as almost an omen of what our evening had in store for us. 

The weekend prior, I decided I wanted to challenge my baking abilities. Naturally, I contacted my esteemed baker friend, Malia Mabray, who then suggested we collaborate on the creation of a raspberry-piped vanilla cupcake with a French silk frosting. Challenge accepted. Before pre-gaming our insulin levels at our local Bahama Bucks (the Birthday Cake flavor is highly recommended), we proceeded to purchase the confectionery paraphernalia then commute to where the process was to take place: my kitchen.

Trying our best not to let the egg-cident set the tone, we got straight to work on the raspberry concentrate. Butter to berries to egg whites, all in the pot, their aromas danced an elaborate jig. Smell alone did not suffice, so we concluded taste-testing was crucial to this step.

The raspberry sauce wasn’t truly based on a recipe, for we had improvised ingredients and ratios along the way. And with improvisation comes mistakes, for we had scalded the egg whites, resembling more of an egg drop soup. Oops. However, it was a relief we would be sifting out the seeds in the sauce and, along with them, the chunky bits of egg. In the fridge to chill. Next up: cupcakes.

Spanning a total of ten minutes to warm up water, melt butter, crack eggs, stir in the powder (taste-test), and sort batter into baseball-sized golden wrappers, the boxed cake served as a rest from the other elaborate happenings, an oasis in a sandstorm, if sandstorms happened to be yummy and chocolate-flavored. I delighted in pulling the hot baby cakes from the oven, each a perfectly risen ball of moist, white deliciousness, just waiting to be cored and filled. But wait- I’m getting ahead of myself- Malia reminds me that they must cool and the French silk must commence. And commence it did.

She whisked the butter with capable hands as I added the sugar. I watched in comfortable servitude, listening to the hum of the hand mixer and Michael Buble playing from my speaker. With purposeful strokes, the two raw materials became one flesh before my eyes and it was time for salt. With a little regret, I must be candid in regards to what ensued: a lid was opened, an enthusiastic shake of salt was applied, resulting in a heaping mountain of white crystals atop the peaks of creamy butter and sugar. After a few moments of raw panic, the majority of salt was scooped out and thrown away. Adding the melted chocolate and powdered sugar exponentially improved taste and it was soon time to assemble. 

The now room temperature baby cakes? Cored. Raspberry sauce freshly thickened and chilled? In a piping bag. As for Monsieur Chocolate Silk? Piped and ready for action. We were a dynamic duo, primed by adversity and the remainder of a Bahama Bucks sugar rush. This was a cake walk.

I felt proud. Gazing down at the cakes, dressed to the nines, I realized I was a mother of 18, and my beautiful offspring were about to be blissfully devoured; testing the final product was a spiritual experience to say the least. 

The mishmash of improv, ready-made, and recipe-based materials were pieced together to form a beautiful quilt of flavors. Although the stitching process wasn’t always smooth, the fruits of our labors were worth the effort.