Wednesday, May 15, 2013

cupcakes & contests

I'll be completely honest. Lately, I'm having a hard time blogging. I feel I'm at a crossroads in my life and I can't seem to clear my head long enough to write more than two sentences. I've started many a blog post in the past few weeks only to realize I couldn't find the words to finish. Hopefully with Spring in the air and new beginnings on the horizon, my words will find their way.

It, however, doesn't stop me thinking I can enter every contest I can find. Last month, the Feisty Chef had a photo contest in celebration of her blogiversairy in which you could win a private dinner for nine with the chef herself. Simply make one of her recipes, snap a pic, and get your friends voting. I take pics of my food on the daily so I thought I'd be golden. Loving anything avocado, I decided on this chickpea, avocado, and tomato salad with a tahini za'atar dressing. I even opted to whip up my own za'atar with thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, a pinch of cumin, and salt.

chickpea, avocado & tomato salad + homemade za'atar
Caught up in life's craziness, I unfortunately waited to post with mere days to go. Though I loved how my pic turned out, I was too late to beat out team muffin. Hell, at least it forced me to make za'atar myself, switch up my salad routine, and develop my food photography. I'd say that's a win. This week we even used some leftover za'atar on homemade falafel pitas to add more depth of flavour. Win indeed.

Then, there was the Chronicle Herald cupcake photo contest last month in which you could win a KitchenAid stand mixer. I knew I wouldn't be messing around with no fondant so, with a few days left to submit, I finally found the time to bake up a cupcake that would rival any fondant masterpiece. There was the baking, the clean up, the buttercream, the clean up, the salted caramel, the photo shoot and, surprise surprise, the clean up. All totally worth it.

chocolate espresso cupcake + brown butter buttercream + caramel + sea salt
Now, I will never complain when there are over a dozen mini cupcakes sitting on my counter begging to be eaten but I was happy to be having a little party to elicit some help. Can it really be that difficult to encourage guests to eat chocolate espresso cupcakes topped with a brown butter buttercream dripping with salted caramel? Exactly. Funny enough I hadn't even tried a cupcake until a few drinks in when someone suggested we do a cupcake shot. Yes, it happened. Five of us huddled around the table, mini cupcake in hand, counting down. A whole cupcake jammed into your mouth can't be bad right? It wasn't. In fact, it was amazing.  If salty and sweet got together and had a baby, this would be it.

Did I win you ask? Funny story that. Though I had a plan, or rather thought I had a plan, I completely missed the deadline, thinking it was days later. In fact, my cupcakes were baking in the oven as the contest drew to a close. Another timing fail. But then again isn't sharing a cupcake shot with friends a total win?

Besides, there is no better prize than bringing a smile to a friend's buttercream covered face.