Swamped and Soaked in Wisconsin

One explains my lack of posting, while the other explains the effect of the last vacation we just got home from. Overall it is me telling myself why I am a horrible blogger. Not that it isn’t obvious by my lack of posting since the In This Moment concert. Hell, I’m already planning on if I can make their next show in Madison (early December in case you’re wondering).

Now the soaked portion of the title will come into play later. That will be a discussion of our cruise from New York to Halifax and back. As you can guess by its teaser in the title, water was more than just a little involved. But that is a story for another day…

Swamped. Writing. Editing. Working. Vacations (without wifi). Politics. In other words… swamped. All of this worked to keep me from posting a wrap of the Authors After Dark convention in New Orleans. I’ll try and correct that problem currently.

The first to consider is us getting the four dozen cupcakes prepped and ready to drag on the train with us to NOLA. This included making the toppers for the cakes and prepping a bunch of frosting to come with us in containers to be applied once at the hotel. Yeah. It was that crazy. First there was the bus trip from Madison to Chicago. Robin got all intimate with the cupcakes. Darn near biblical. See?

Seriously she had a couple inches of space for the ride down to Janesville. Yes, that Janesville (for those of you up on current events). Once there we switched buses for the last leg of the trip and were able to give the cupcakes their own space. Either way, it was interesting to say the least. Once we were on the train, there was plenty of space. Through a mix up, we’d been put in a family sleeping car as opposed to a bunkhouse. The cupcakes got their own seat there too.

Once there we piped frosting onto all of the cakes and brushed out the toppers (we transported them in sugar). Then the hotel stored them in the kitchens for us. But since I know you all are dying to find out what they were…

The Trampire

This one was brought to Romantic Times this year as well, but I did a return visit since people liked it so well. It takes a bit of doing and isn’t as “wet” of a cake as some of them, but it has a rather unique taste as it uses both whole wheat and regular flour as well as two kinds of sugar. (Brown sugar and standard sugar, for the curious.) The cake is a hard cider cake which is filled with a Granny Smith and hard cider compote. Which is the time consuming part of the process. It is topped with either a white chocolate cream cheese frosting or a cinnamon one. (For AAD all of the cupcakes got the same frosting.)

For fans of the Sabina Kane series (the source of the name Trampire and the flavor choice) you’ll notice the chocolate topper is a hand piped version of her birthmark that resembles the Caste of Nod symbol. Or as we like to call it, our most breakable topper transported. (We packed extras.)

The Ryzkahls (Spicy Demon Lords)

Another of my “go-to” cakes when baking for my gaming groups, this is a modification of the classic Devil’s Food recipe that I took from my Bleeding Heart Bakery cookbook. It is made with ancho chili in the batter giving it just a little heat with the rich devils food chocolate. The dark ganache inside is dusted with some cayenne for a bit more heat. This cake is actually meant to get the standard white chocolate cream cheese frosting. (Though I have considered trying a dark chocolate cream cheese frosting for this one.)

And while the Trampire toppers were the most breakable, these toppers were the ones that never were. I picked up an ice cube tray that makes AK47 bullet ice cubes. Doing those in chocolate leads to a lot of air bubbles. We need a couple more tries to get them right. My wife did do one bullet in gum paste and painted it for Diana’s topper. The rest of them were garnished with chocolate covered almonds so they wouldn’t be naked as Prince Harry on a Vegas bender.

The Velveteens (Goth Velvets)

Although not out until next month, I have read this book and knew that with a character named Velvet a cupcake had to follow. The attempt was for a Grey Velvet (same as a red but with a different color). We found when adding black coloring to the cocoa flavored batter it was hard to get grey. So we went a little Elvis and made black velvet cakes. It is filled with a white chocolate ganache and topped with the white chocolate cream cheese frosting. With more time open, I would do the frosting in grey to give us the three “goth colors” of black, white and grey.

Without spoiling too much of the story, the toppers are skeleton keys as they’re what Daniel Marks said would be an excellent element from the book. Taking his word on it, one of my friends gave me a present of getting the food safe silicone and molding me the key molds. They are a little thin for chocolate, so Robin made these out of gum paste and hand painted them.

The Hornicorns

This one seemed to have the most people excited about them. Sometime soon, I will post the recipe for these so y’all can make them at home. Warning, this does involve “shaving” raw sweet corn. In other words, a bit messy. Also, this is the only one of the four that wasn’t filled. It doesn’t really need to be filled. It is a sweet corn cake that I folded chopped bits of pig candy into. (Pig candy is candied bacon.) Half way through the baking cycle I sprinkled a bit more pig candy on the tops of the cakes to add to the bacon flavor and to add a texture layer to it. I had first topped it with a maple butter cream, but for the convention I topped it with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Either works well.

For the topper, we placed the hornicorn part into it with a gum paste unicorn horn. We even disco dusted it like the unicorn poop that both we and Allison Pang had made. And since these were for her Phin the unicorn sidekick from her series, it seemed appropriate. Also these spurned the comments of “surprise horn” as the unicorn horns were pretty long so we buried into the cupcake.

This is a whole lot of description of the cupcakes, so I think I will leave things here and post up more news and photos of the trip to New Orleans later. Give me until like Tuesday or Wednesday.

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