This past week master pastry chef extraordinaire, Samm Sherman, was gracious enough to dedicate her precious time to teaching WOW’s August cooking class. As the executive pastry chef of two of Denver’s most popular restaurants, Root Down and Linger, and the winner of the Food Network’s Sweet Genius, we were excited to see what sort of delectable goodies we would be mastering. And how pleased I was to find that we would be making my personal favorite: cupcakes! Now I know cupcakes do not seem like rocket science, but how many times a year do you make them? If you’re me, you make them often. Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, baby or wedding showers… the possibilities are endless because cupcakes are appropriate for any holiday or gathering. But can’t they get kind of… well… boring? Bake ‘em out of a box, buy a tub of frosting, maybe add food coloring and call it a day? Not anymore! I can truly say that I am now a proper bon vivant. Well, at least when it comes to cupcakes!
First, we learned how to make Samm’s gourmet vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. (And believe me, as a connoisseur of cupcakes, these truly were exquisite.) No more of that “add contents of box, 3 eggs, and 1 cup of oil” business. These were made from scratch. And the best part about it? It wasn’t even that difficult. In fact, they were pretty easy if you followed her instructions. And the difference between boxed cake mix and cupcakes from scratch is completely incomparable: they just taste so much better! From now on, I will only make my cupcakes from scratch!
After mastering the art of the perfect cup cake, we moved on to the topping: Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting. Doesn’t that sound absolutely divine? And so sophisticated too! Imagine bringing “homemade cupcakes baked from scratch topped with a delicious Swiss meringue buttercream frosting” to a party. Instant popularity boost!
Again, this was a surprisingly easy recipe that tasted like it came straight out of a gourmet kitchen (then again, it kind of did since we had Miss Sweet Genius herself leading the way). For me, the best part about the frosting was its versatility. Once the base is complete, it can be made into all sorts of gourmet frosting. Some added fresh strawberries or raspberries, others added peanut butter, some added Oreo bits, some added coconut, and some just kept it plain but threw in a little food coloring. The possibilities were truly endless! Samm let us run wild and do whatever we wanted. We made a bit of a mess, but it was so much fun! There were 10 of us mixing and inventing, tasting each other’s creations and giving each other suggestions.
In the end, I made 6 cupcakes: 1) vanilla cupcake with Oreo cookie frosting, topped with an Oreo, 2) vanilla cupcake with strawberry jam filling and peanut butter frosting, topped with a fresh strawberry, 3) chocolate cupcake version of number two, 4) vanilla cupcake with yellow frosting topped with a rose, 5) chocolate cupcake with yellow frosting, topped with a s’more (yes, a real graham cracker and roasted marshmallow s’more!), and finally 6) vanilla cupcake topped with a lavender tinted frosting. Personally I am quite proud of the way they turned out! They really look like they were made by a professional! And for me, that is really something. In fact, I have so many more ideas of how I would like to decorate my next batch of cupcakes. Now all I need is an occasion!
So on behalf of WOW, thank you Samm Sherman for a great class! We all had so much fun and can’t wait to show off our creative cupcakes at our next party or gathering!