That was different.
It’s been hot and dry here. Maybe not the near-biblical hot and dry of a Texas drought, but pretty darn close for the PNW. As my neighbor said, looking at the wast-high brown on the unmowed part of the lawn, “that’s late August grass, not early July grass.” So cooking inside seems like a bad idea. My daughter, though, wanted to bake something. Turning on the stove wasn’t an option. Indoor heat generators are a Bad Thing when the AC already can’t keep up. So she asked if we could cook them outside on the grill. Well, we’re already planning of grilling steak for dinner. Hmmmm… Maybe….
So we turned the grill on, just three burners on one side, put the tray of cupcakes on the other for more-or-less indirect heat. Sere the steaks on the side searing-plate, toss them on the hot side of the grill per the usual custom. Flames. Smoke. Seasoning. More flames from fat melting off and igniting. Ah, a touch of glorious char. Larger flames and greasy smoke. Steaks are done, cupcakes still not….?…. well, then… Turn them around. Again. Meanwhile, following a very odd-sounding recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, we toss some lettuce onto the grill. Yeah, grilled salad. Uhhh… you sure about this, kiddo? OK, if you say so. She whipped up the home-made Caeser dressing to brush on them, and sliced/oiled the bread to grill for, ahem, extra-large “croutons,” and you know what? It was pretty good. For a twelve-year-old? Most excellent!
Ah, finally the cupcakes had browned a bit, and the toothpick came out clean. I pulled them off. Done, quite by accident, to a turn. The paper bottom almost black, but peal it off and just inside it was just enough to caramelize the sugar. The smoke added an unusual tang to the flavor to the top that went really well with the other flavors, ones she’d experimented with – seeing that we were low on butter, she substituted a couple Tbst of cream cheese for the same amount of butter. It all came together remarkably well – some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had (not that I’m any connoisseur or anything), and definitely the best she’s ever made.
More work than I’d normally want to do, but in TSCB Kwon is always experimenting. Here are a couple of real-world experiments that worked out very, very well.