28 Days Later: Infected Brain Strawberry Cupcakes

What do you get when you cross non-stop televised violence and gore with a rather adorable chimpanzee? Apparently, 28 days later you get a second British Invasion of the worst kind…

Is 28 Days Later a true zombie movie? I’ve heard both sides of the case. Some argue that it is a smart, fast-paced ride through zombie film territory while others will argue that it’s only an outbreak film with nods to the most terrifying aspects of “real” zombies (relentless and nearly unstoppable in their pursuit to consume flesh).

Why all the commotion? Why must we divide everything into sub-genre camps? To me, a zombie is a zombie is a zombie. Do you eat other people?  Will you chase me down like a cheetah or shuffle after me? Are you used-to-be-dead, mindless, and robotic or considered still alive and full of impulsive rage?  Doesn’t matter to me how you got like that. It could be supernatural phenomena, a mysterious comet flying over the earth, or your everyday rage virus. If you want my brain, leg, arm, etc. for a midday snack, and nothing but fire or a gunshot blast to the head will stop you then zombie I shall call you.

 (A disorientated Jim runs from a blazing rager)

My Screen Rant: 28 Days Later messed with me. Released in 2002 before The Walking Dead ever saw the public light of day, this film helped jumpstart another new wave of interest in modern day zombies. It definitely caught my attention! When Jim, the bike courier (played by the marvelous Cillian Murphy), awakens from a coma in a deserted hospital and stumbles out into empty London streets, he has no idea what he faces. As a viewer, I was pretty much aware that some kind of vengeful virus had infected everyone, but the level of anger and violence in the infected had me gritting my teeth with each of Jim’s encounters. As if battling raging flesh-eaters isn’t enough, Jim and his tiny group of mismatched survivors also must bear the brutality of the uninfected; those with the responsibility and means to save, protect, and endure. It had me squirming in my own naivety. It had me asking could this happen? What will I do when it happens? How equipped am I for a sudden rage outbreak, mysterious comet, or supernatural phenomena? I questioned how we will behave as surviving human beings of such a catastrophe. My answers are not comforting. Are you prepared?

                                                           (Jim wanders a deserted London)

The Recipe: A zombie bit my cupcake! Ever imagine what an infected brain looks like after a zombie takes a chomp? Probably not as gorily appetizing as the batch of bad brains I recently made for a horror-iffic senior class study group atRalstonHigh School. The kids voted on my ultimate favorite chocolate macabre flavor, but typically I would make these with a scary good strawberry cake (that I’ve been told looks like messy brain matter while unbaked-you decide if that’s bad or good!) Strawberry cake goes so well with the rich, darkened strawberry sauce oozing from the tainted frontal lobes.

Below you will find the recipes for the cake, the strawberry sauce, and the decorating! Have fun!!

Strawberry Brain Matter Cupcakes

(Makes an oozy batch of 18-24)

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter

4 eggs

2 ¾ C cake flour

1 ½ C sugar

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

12 ounces frozen sliced strawberries in their syrup (thaw them first, but do not rinse)

¼ tsp red food coloring (for a gory effect)

White baking cups

How to Make em:

Obligatory Reminder: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prep the pan by adding the baking cups and spraying lightly with nonstick baking spray.

1. Start by pureeing the strawberries and their syrup in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.

2. Beat the butter and sugar into creamy submission on low with your stand/hand mixer.

3. Add about a cup and a half of the strawberry puree to your creamed mixture along with your eggs, one at time. Mix well.

4. In a small bowl, add flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to the creamed mixture.

5. Finish with the food coloring and add the batter 2/3 cup to each muffin cavity.

6. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  (Always check cupcakes with a tester pokey thing for clingy batter).

Oozing Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 C strawberry jam

2 Tbsp sugar

½ tsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp or more of cornstarch

Red and black food coloring

How to Make It:

1. Mix the jam, sugar, and lemon juice in a small bowl.

2. Add a few small drops of red food coloring. Add a toothpick dip of black food coloring. Beware: black food coloring can alter the taste of your sauce so please use sparingly!! You want gory good not gory gross. If you don’t’ have black food coloring, don’t sweat it. Red will do, but the black adds effect.

3. Add cornstarch tablespoon at a time until you get pasty jam still thin enough to drip/spread. (Too thick? Add a drip of water).

**Set aside until ready to decorate. This mixture may be refrigerated, but I suggest using it pretty quick.

Infected Brain Cupcake Decorating

Ingredients/Things You Need:

White frosting (Your own 3-4 cups of buttercream or canned icing. You will need at least two cans of white).

Red and black food coloring

2 decorating bags

#10 and #12 round decorating tips (#10 for decorating and #12 for the strawberry sauce)

How to Make Em:

1. Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled or you will have melting brains instead.

2. Prepare your frosting. Using a toothpick, add the food coloring a little at a time until you get a suitable “brainy” hue.

3. Fit your pastry bag with the #10 decorating tip. Add frosting to the bag.

4. Start by piping a vertical line sort of off center. Zigzag side to side your way back down the surface of the cupcake, but do not drag the tip along the cake top. Repeat on the other side of the brain. Continue braining all your cupcakes.

5. Fit another pastry bag with the #12 round tip. Fill with the strawberry sauce. I added the sauce to all areas of the brain that remained exposed-those unsightly brain gaps…

**A spoon to drizzle the sauce around and over the brains would also be quite effective if you prefer.

 (Brains! Brains!)           (Oozing infection)

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