Musical pairing – Carolina by James Taylor
I had been a fan of Virginia Willis long before I had the opportunity to meet her; perusing her blog is like grabbing a cup of coffee or tea and settling in to catch up . . . to see what’s been happening since the last time I visited . . . warm, inviting and one of the best storytellers I know, Virginia’s writing cuts to the chase and speaks to my heart . . .
We met somewhat by accident at the Atlanta Food Blog Forum last year; I knew Virginia would be speaking but I certainly never expected that we would come face to face. But the universe has a way of showing up when you least expect it . . . there were close to 100 people gathered that Friday night in Atlanta, and we were waiting to see a pork demonstration. There was a bit of a line as people were shuffling to take a seat and when I turned around to look for The Professor, Virginia was directly behind me. Completely caught off guard, I kept walking as I sputtered, ‘Oh my God, you’re Virginia Willis!’ and, like Sandra Bullock, in ‘Miss Congeniality’, nearly mowed down the person in front of me . . . I turned back to see Virginia’s eyes dancing and a big grin spread across her face as she tried to stifle a chuckle. I laughed. She laughed. I introduced myself and now I’m an even bigger fan.
Virginia is an accomplished French-trained chef and author of ‘Bon Appétit Y’all’ which was nominated for the IACP Best American Cookbook award; she has been featured in many award-winning publications and has held many a prestigious job – all of which are to be celebrated. Virginia has worked hard and earned every good opportunity that has come her way. But what I simply adore about Virginia is that she is real, she is genuine . . . there is nothing pretentious about Virginia or the fabulous recipes she creates . . . what you see is what you get.
This recipe, Coca-Cola Cupcakes, is from her new book, ‘Basic to Brilliant Y’all’ – she’s taken an old Southern classic and makes it ‘brilliant’ with the addition of toasted meringue; I will also share that I’m not necessarily a baker and these were a huge success!!
If you’d like to purchase the book, Virginia is offering Smith Bites readers a personalized and signed bookplate. The holidays are coming up fast and if you’re looking for a nice gift for a friend . . . or, ahem, yourself . . . purchase a copy of the book and then fill out this form by October 12, 2011 and Virginia will get the bookplate sent to you.
You can also find Virginia on Facebook and Twitter – I know she’d love to know what you think of her new book!
COCA-COLA CUPCAKES W/TOASTED MERINGUE
Reprinted with permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company by Virginia Willis, Copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Makes about 20 cupcakes
FOR THE CUPCAKES:
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup Coca-Cola
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR THE TOASTED MERINGUE (SEVEN-MINUTE FROSTING):
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- 6 large egg whites
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
FOR THE CAKE:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line 20 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
- In a bowl, sift together the granulated sugar and flour.
- In a saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Pour over the dry ingredients; stir to combine. Combine the baking soda and buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup. Add the buttermilk mixture, eggs and vanilla to the flour mixture and stir to combine.
- Divide the batter evenly among the lined cups, filling each cup three-quarters full.
- Bake, rotating the tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
- Remove the muffin tins to a rack to cool slightly, then remove the individual cupcakes to the rack to cool completely.
FOR THE MERINGUE/FROSTING:
- Combine sugar, water and light corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of the pan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves; continue boiling, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 230 degrees F
- In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 6 large egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, add 2 Tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
- As soon as the syrup reaches 230 degrees F, remove from the heat; with the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Increase the speed to medium-high; whisk until the mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.
- Spoon frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling the tip slightly and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Hold a small kitchen blowtorch about 4 inches from the surface of the frosting and wave it back and forth until the frosting is lightly browned, like a toasted marshmallow. Serve immediately.
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Debra, they sound amazing. I would have never thought of soda in cake!
Wow, Debra, I can’t begin to tell you how much I love the idea of meringue topping a cupcake! And so stunning.
oooooooh. I’ve just discovered your blog and it is making for a wonderful Friday night read…
I am a sucker for good old southern food. GREG
This book looks tremendous! I love that cover image, but what I love the most are these cupcakes. You did a stellar job with that toasted meringue. Perfection!
If those taste as good as they look, count me in! What a great combination of flavors!
The second I spotted these, I wanted to make them! The chocolate is reason enough, but coca-cola? and topped with meringue? Yummy!
Perfect dessert for the fall – bravo!!
Once again: why don’t you live next door? Love this post, these sound yummy!
Hey Debra, thanks for bringing our attention to Virginia’s new book. Sounds amazing & you are right – perfect for holiday gift giving! The cupcakes look amazing!
oh my, I’d have probably done the same thing if I bumped into her, lol!
These look absolutely delicious!
I love that story!!! So cute! I’ve been following all of the buzz about Virginia’s book on twitter….I think it’s a “must buy.” And, hey, I have a birthday coming up…I think I’ll put it on my list.
Gorgeous, gorgeous cupcakes…and I’m loving that you paired them with the musical stylings of JT! 😉
Did I say Crate and Barrel? I meant Cracker Barrel. Honestly. It’s time for bed. 🙂
I wonder if those Coke cupcakes are anything like the Coke cake they have once in a while at Crate And Barrel. I have a chocolate fanatic friend who adores that. I’m going to make this for her, Debra. Love the 7 minute frosting. It’s my favorite. I’d eat that first!
That sounds exactly like the kind of thing I would do. At least you made a memorable impression! Those cupcakes look sinfully delicious!
Chocolate…we can never go wrong with chocolate….and if Virginia Willis is involved sign me up! Giggles Have a great weekend Deb!
Oh my goodness Deb, those look amazing! I can’t wait to get Virginia’s new book, I just love her 😀
Have loved every single one of Virginia’s recipes so far.
Lovely cupcakes btw!
Your cupcakes are BEAUTIFUL!! I want this book. Thanks for the sneak peek.
I was at the food blog forum in ATL too and unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to meet either of you. I did enjoy Virginia’s segment though.
Hi Debra, Thanks for this review. I am a fan of Virginia’s not only for her content but for her direct honest approach. I was very curious about her new book so it is good to read your high praise.
these are stunning, ya’ll. xox