Friday, August 3, 2012

Pinstrosity - Skip the Frosting . . . or skip the sticky disaster?

Ah, Pinterest!  If you want to waste 20 minutes in front of your computer, what better way to do it than by gratuitously pinning DIY projects and culinary masterpieces you never have any intention of actually attempting yourself!?
Unless, of course, you spend it on the entertaining blog, Pinstrosity, where they showcase the attempts (and sometime disasters!) of those pinners out there actually foolish enough to have a go at those ridiculously complicated looking pins?  But it's not just about laughing at the disasters (although that's kind of fun too!)  These girls are the Mythbusters of the Pinterest world, researching and analysing what went wrong and attempting to find a fix for next time.
To celebrate their 100th post and 1,000,000th view, Pinstrosity are challenging their readers to attempt to recreate a pin from their "to test" board, with a $50 Amazon Gift Card up for grabs. 

So for something a little different, dear readers, here is my attempt to recreate:

Skip the Frosting Cupcakes!

The Original pin:

When I skimmed the "to test" board, this one seemed a bit of a no-brainer to me . . . a bit of baking is always welcome in this house, and I had a packet of marshmallows left over from Maddy's party, so I didn't even need to head out for supplies!  And besides, what could possibly go wrong with something as (seemingly) simple as this?

The original post states:  
"Want to make cupcakes in a hurry?  Skip the frosting!  Set your baking timer for five minutes before your cupcakes are done and place a large marshmallow on top of each cupcake". 
And that's it!  She does go on to suggest her own Red Velvet Cupcake recipe, but I decided to use my own tried-and-true Red Velvet Cupcake recipe that my family already loves.

But rather than just tell you about it, why don't I show you how it all went!  So far, so good,  everything started out very normally . . .

. . . it was about this time that Maddy said to me, "hey Mum, did you get this marshmallow idea off Pinterest?"
me: "Yes, why?"
Maddy: "because if it goes wrong, we can write about it to Pinstrosity!" Obviously I hadn't explained to her at that point that this was the whole point - aside from the obvious eating of the cupcakes. Of course.

as directed, we set the  timer for 5 minutes before the end of cooking time . . 

 . . .still looking good, the cupcakes are back in the oven with marshmallows on top (although my oven door's not looking so good - perhaps it's time to give my oven a clean!)  We set the timer set for another 5 minutes.
Now before I show you my end results, perhaps you would like to see how they are meant to turn out:

With that teaser in mind, let's get back to my oven, only about one minute in of the required five . . .

Hmmm. . . let's have a look at how they looked when they came out of the oven:

. . . and here's how they looked when I tried to "relocate" some of that marshmallow back on top of the cakes:

Pinstrosity or Pin Win?  Well from a visual perspective the experiment was clearly a disaster.  Rather than keeping those lovely shaped tops like in the blog post, mine just oozed off to the side in a runny mess.  Worst of all, everywhere that the Marshmallow burst out of the outer crust was of course sticky, making packaging a bit of a problem.
But as they say in Masterchef, (once they've finished criticising the presentation) it all comes down to taste.  100% of judges in the 9 to 13 age range were perfectly happy to eat them, and preferred them to the more traditional cream-cheese icing. Bear in mind, though, that these same judges would eat a whole packet of marshmallow straight, if their parents would let them.  Judges in the 30+ age range, on the other hand, found the taste a bit sickly and would, quite frankly, prefer to eat their Red Velvet Cupcakes with no topping whatsoever.

So despite what my children say, I'm calling this one a Pinstrosity, so all that's left is to analyse what went wrong. 

Well, straight away I know what you're thinking . . .she didn't use the suggested recipe, so maybe the problem was the temperature?  It was probably too hot and it melted too fast?  Well, no.  My recipe calls for an oven temp of 165 degrees C.  The suggested recipe uses 350 degrees F, which, it turns out, converts to 176.66666 degrees C (or for those of us who use Celcius, a moderate oven setting is 180 degrees).   So the suggested recipe would have required a hotter oven which, if anything, would have melted the marshmallow even faster!

OK, so what if, as my husband suggested, you put the marshmallows in the oven for a shorter amount of time?  Again, I don't think so, as most of the melting actually occured in the first minute or so. 

I'm just going to come straight out and make a bold prediction. It all comes down to the actual marshmallow. Nowhere on her blog post does she mention the brand of the marshmallow she uses.  My family uses marshmallows almost solely for roasting over campfires, with the very occasional floating in a mug of hot chocolate.  I seem to remember somewhere deep in the past being disappointed with some brands of marshmallows not melting satisfactorily.  I suspect those marshmallows might work better for this recipe! I personally didn't love this enough to try again with a different brand, but if you are . . . we used Pascalls brand marshmallows - the pack with a mix of white and pink.  I should also point out that they were made in an Australian factory, as I think there's a chance that even marshmallows manufactured under the same name in a different country might use a different recipe.  

Well, thanks for stopping by, and if you're up for a challenge yourself, you've still got a couple of days to pop on over to Pinstrosity and test out a pin yourself! 

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