Joy Ride: Pink Champagne Cupcakes

                                                          

                                               It started out as a joke. Now the joke is on them.

Joy Ride trailer poster

                          Install a CB radio, he said. Fake like a chick named Candy Cane, he said. It’d be fun, he said.

And it was. Until someone got hurt…

CB talk baby joyride   Joy Ride is a 2001 thriller about a road trip gone terribly wrong. On their way ‘cross country back home, two brothers, Lewis and Fuller, and their unwitting passenger, Venna, are stalked and menaced by a vengeful trucker after a CB prank goes awry. It stars Paul Walker, Steve Zahn, Leelee Sobieski, and Buffalo Bill.

Yep; Ted Levine (AKA Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs) puts his deep, foreboding pipes to good use as the voice of Rusty Nail, the horny, homicidal trucker that obviously can’t take a joke. However, don’t expect to actually see Ted in the role as he is just the voice, folks. The actual bad guy is played by another actor, but we only get shadowy glimpses of him during the more action-packed scenes.Being chased joyride

Sounds fun, right?

It is!

terrified Fuller        Joy Ride may not be for the hardcore horror set (as the scares, violence and gore are minimal), but the suspenseful story line, chilling use of scenery, and humorous quips of dialogue make it a fun popcorn movie perfect for a rainy night.

The Recipe: From frosting to filling, the entire cupcake is infused with Candy Cane’s favorite getting-it-on-with-strangers beverage, pink champagne. The sweet Muscato smell reminds me of the tubed warehouse champagne cake filling my boss at the bakery used to slather in between the cake rounds. Except the hand-forged version is less pink-gelatinous looking and tastes fresher, lighter.

Drained the last dregs in that bottle of champagne on New Years, did you? No worries. Just be at the Lone Star Motel room 17. Rusty Nail will be stopping by with a bottle of the pink bubbly at midnight. So, if you’re not dead, you can whip up a batch. You copy that?

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Pink Champagne Cake

(Makes 12-15 romantic offerings)

Ingredients:

2 cups cake flour

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 stick butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup sour cream

½ cup pink champagne (I really went all out and bought the Sutter Home variety; wink, wink)

*Recipes for Pink Champagne Pastry Filling and Pink Champagne ButterScream (below)

Decoration: Candy bubbles (I found glossy Sixlet candies in the cupcake aisle of Walmart. Awesomeness.)

Equipment: Nonstick baking spray, standard sized cupcake pan, liners, hand/stand mixer, cupcake corer

How to Make em:

Obligatory Reminder: Spray cupcake liners with non stick baking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

*Beat the butter and sugar into creamy submission with your hand or stand mixer. I always use my hand mixer for that ultimately personal experience hehe!

* Crack the eggs into the mix, one at a time, beating again after each addition.

* In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and champagne. Watch it fizz then set it aside.

* In another small bowl, combine the boring stuff: cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

* Stir the dry boring ingredients into the creamed mix alternately with the champagne mixture. I always incorporate them with a rubber spatula for that hand-forged quality, but feel free to use your hand mixer or stand mixer again. Low to medium speed, please.

*Fill each cupcake cavity about ¾ full for the naughtiest results and bake about 15-17 mins at 350 degrees.

*Once COMPLETELY cooled, core and fill each cake with the pastry cream and frost.

Adorn: Complete the look with a few shimmery candle bubbles.

Pink Champagne Pastry Cream

(Makes enough to generously fill 12-15 cakes) 

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp cornstarch

5 Tbsp sugar

½ cup whipping cream (divided)

½ cup champagne

1 egg

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla

How to Make It:

*In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and ¼ cup of the cream. Beat the egg and the yolks into the mixture.

*In a saucepan, bring the remaining ¼ cup of cream, sugar, and champagne to a boil then remove from the heat.

*Pour about 1/3 of the boiling mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk constantly as to keep the eggs from cooking/curdling.

*Return the remaining champagne cream mix to boiling. Pour in the hot egg mixture, whisking constantly (again) until the mixture thickens. This will take a few minutes. Patience, my dear!

*Remove from heat and add in the vanilla and butter. Stir until smooth.

*Let the mixture cool a bit before adding it to equally cooled cupcakes.

Champagne Butterscream Frosting

(Makes enough to cover 12-15 cupcakes)

Ingredients:

1 stick of butter (softened)

¼ cup champagne

4 cups powdered sugar

How to Make It:

*In a medium bowl, beat the butter and champagne into creamy submission with your hand or stand mixer.

*Add in the sugar one cup at a time.

*Allow the frosting to set a few minutes in the refrigerator before piping on.

stalked in the cornfield joyride Until next time…stay spooky, my fiends!

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When a Stranger Calls (2006): Dark and Stormy Brownies

The storm rages outside. Streaks of lightning illuminate the night, sending inky apparitions dancing across the walls. Despite the continuous roll of thunder, the children have been asleep upstairs for hours. She’s pilfered the fridge and cupboards, browsed through the never-ending TV channels, and texted everyone she knows until the battery of her phone went dead. She wished for her laptop, but settled on curling up in a corner of the sofa with a bag of Doritos, a diet Dr. Pepper, and her latest read. With just a floor lamp lighting the pages, she sinks comfortably into every word.
          Then the house phone rings, and the book jumps right from her hands. She scrambles to find the cordless in the dim room, breathlessly answers, and is greeted by the cold, dark voice of a stranger, asking, “Have you checked the children?”
          My Screen Rant: It’s every teenage babysitter’s worst fear thanks to the 1979 classic thriller When a Stranger Calls. Carol Kane stars as Jill Johnson, a babysitter terrorized by a prank caller that becomes frightenly serious after police trace his calls to the inside of the house.  I watched it many times myself as a teenager, and I distinctly remember watching it once while babysitting! I tried covering my ears with throw pillows from my aunt’s couch, but the sound of the psycho caller’s voice still seeped through, forcing me to get up and yes-check the children.
           As if the original wasn’t spooky enough, they had to throw in a remake in 2006. I was a bit hesitant as I usually am with most remakes (or “updates” as Hollywood likes to spin it these days), but just seeing the trailer had me wishing for another night with Jill Johnson at the Mandrakis house. They cast a virtual big screen unknown as the new unsuspecting Jill and threw in an amazing modern, open concept house just perfect for casting eerie shadows and echoing small sounds. The opening scene was chilling without having to see the gore you knew was there. In fact, the entire movie was blood and gore-free. It didn’t need it. The killer’s frequent phone calls, the ominous setting, and the suspense-building game of cat and mouse had me curled in the corner of my sofa through the whole film. It was darn right scary, and again had me creeping upstairs to check the children.
          I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good thrill void of slashers, guts, and gore. But-if you’d rather snuggle up with a good book, I have listed a few suggestions:
**Serious readers of Supernatural Fantasy-Game of Thrones by George RR Martin (I’m still trudging through book 2 Clash of Kings and LOVING it).
**Something darker? Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
**Great Christian horror: Isolation by Travis Thrasher, House by Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker, or The Hunted by Mike Delloso
Supernatural Fun: Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series (I’ve read them all and laughed my way through each book).
Something light and fluffy? Let Them Eat Cake series by Christian writer, Sandra Byrd (about an aspiring pastry chef; I loved all the yummy food references throughout each book).
          The Recipe: No matter if you are watching spooky or reading spooky, you’ll need a decadent square of strong chocolate to cling to during those jumpy moments. Dark and Stormy Brownies are not for the weak of heart. These small bars are thick with intense dark chocolate flavor and go so well with a few sips of red wine.
Dark and Stormy Brownies
(Makes 12-16 tumultuous treats)
Ingredients:
9” square baking pan
8 oz dark chocolate (chopped by a sharp blade-I use the amazing Ghirardelli)
10 tbsp butter (room temp, chopped by a sharp blade)
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
4 eggs (room temp, always)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla (only pure vanilla extract, NOT imitation. The word imitation should say it all).
Obligatory reminder: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prep your brownie pan by spraying the pan with nonstick baking spray or lining the pan with baking parchment and greasing with a small slab of shortening/baking spray.
What? No leavening agents like baking soda/baking powder? Don’t fret. Eggs are a leavening agent of sorts and typically brownies do not require either baking soda or baking powder unless you want a cake brownie.
Directions:
1. Place the chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Micro on high for about a minute until butter is completely melted. Stir to melt the chocolate. Leave to cool about five minutes. Add cooled chocolate to a large mixing bowl.
2. Add both sugars to the chocolate and mix well.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating into a creamy submission.
4. Add the vanilla extract.
5. Add the flour and salt into the bowl and stir until creamy smooth.
6. Pour the batter into your prepped pan and spread it level. (No lopsided brownies, please).
7. Bake on the middle rack of your oven for about 20-25 mins at 325 degrees.
Doneness tip: An inviting light crust will have formed on the top of the batch.
8. Cool completely in the pan. Don’t be tempted to cut into your warm brownies until they are completely “chilled” otherwise you’ll just have a big pile of muddy mush.
9. Serve with a glass of red wine, and I promise you will not be disappointed. 
**This recipe is my adaptation from a recipe in Fabulous Brownies by Annie Rigg. (Awesome brownie book, by the way!)