Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

On Cocktails and Cupcakes


I hail from non-celebratory stock that relishes holidays with sleeping in and watching excess amount of T.V. Birthdays by family rite are uneventful. Of course, there were those requisite years where birthdays had some sort of cultural significance. 18 was the year of college and fake IDs. Your first amaretto sour is always the best. Apart from falling face down during a funk concert at Madam's Organ, much of the 21st is a blur. And the quarter-century sparked the obligatory crisis over Modelo Especial. But 26 turned out to be pretty damn memorable—the year of cocktails and cupcakes.

The birthday "cake"

The lovely Romina, pastry chef extraordinaire and good friend, hosted a party at her patisserie. In addition to being a goddess of kouing aman, she's also the High Priestess of Cupcakes. In fact, she's been plotting a cupcake revolution ever since she opened her patisserie. Valrhona chocolate cupcakes, Madagascars (vanilla with vanilla cream cheese buttercream), Some Like It Hots (cinnamon Red hots baked into a vanilla batter), or my favorite, Margaritavilles (need I say more) have been tempting me since I first walked into her place.

But there's more to them than cool names. These mini cakes have some serious FLAVA. They're still a hidden treasure in these parts—their small size is utterly foreign to folks who consider a bear claw the size of their head as "small." But I figure, until these cupcakes become the coolest thing since three-layer Jell-O to take over the city, there will be more for me. Last Friday, she baked up a few of the Maragaritaville cupcakes, prepared some lime curd, and margarita buttercream. We dubbed it the "Cocktail and Cupcake Fiesta."


With a properly stiff margarita, folks each grabbed the naked cupcakes and dressed them at will. The buttercream you could eat by the spoonful. But the lime curd is so addictive you could it lick off of the floor. She had it sitting in a pastry bag with a big tip to poke through the top so that the cupcakes could be filled. Impaling should really be part of any cake decorating process. It's messy. And there's plenty of lime curd to lick off of your fingers.

Impaling was never so fun

The buttercream came next—or first, if lime curd isn't your thing. But then again, if it isn't your thing, you probably weren't invited to the party...


Save for the bowl of pearl sugar and colorful cocktail umbrellas Romina brought to decorate our creations, all this interactive fun made for some sad looking cupcakes. It wasn't hard to spot the pastry chefs in the room with their neatly slathered buttercream and perfect curd-squeezing technique. Patrick here is a computer programmer, not a cake decorator.


Cupcakes + iPods = PARTY


Pretty or not, our personal little creations were insanely good. And after taking a look into my third cupcake, I think the real party was actually waiting inside. You haven't lived until you inhaled a Margaritaville cupcake followed by a Salty Margarita chaser. It only took me 26 years.

There is such a thing as smooth tequila—be sure to use it here.
Chilled glasses * water or lime juice for moistening * a mixture of one park kosher salt and one part sanding sugar * ice * 2 ounces smooth tequila * 1 ounce triple sec or cointreau * 1 ounce lime juice

Invert the chilled glasses in lime juice or water to moisten the lip and rub this wet bit into your sugar-salt mixture. Next, add desired amount of ice into the glasses. Pour in tequila, cointreau, and lime juice. Serve with silly umbrella.

NOTE: There will be no recipe for Margaritaville cupcakes. Romina is insanely busy with other clients' cupcakes. 5,523 to be exact. So I haven't come around to asking her in this crazy production schedule. But I'm happy to report that Cupcake Revolution will be televised.

UncategorizedVanessa Chang