A few days ago, I was musing aloud about what to make for our Chinese New Year/Valentine's Day lunch on Monday. G. voted for her favorite black-bottom cupcakes. C. felt that a cupcake without frosting was not a cupcake, and voted for red velvet. G. shuddered at the thought of red food coloring. I began slamming my head against the wall. Actually, I yelled "FINE!" and decided to make both. I had to work on Sunday and go to dinner at a friend's house to celebrate the Chinese New Year, and somehow bake two kinds of cupcakes. This would require advance planning, which I always fail at, and I grumbled under my breath about ungrateful, picky eaters. On the other hand, it's a win-win situation for me, because I love both kinds.
I started Saturday night, measuring out flours and sugars and leavenings, making the cream-cheese filling for the black-bottom cupcakes. After work I come home and hit the ground baking. I've been thinking about this in my head all day - get the red velvet cakes in, and while they're baking mix together the black-bottom ones. I hit a stumbling block when I notice that the red velvet recipe makes 24 cupcakes. I thought it only made 12. Whoops. That's ok, moving on. I can clean up the kitchen while they bake. First tray goes in, comes out, second one goes in, I start making black-bottom cupcakes. The last bit of cream-cheese filling goes in just as the timer dings for the second tray of red velvet. I've found the groove, that moment when everything is coming together smoothly. I taste one of the first cupcakes, and it is soft and tender and moist, dusty rose-red (I used gel food coloring instead of liquid, and it hasn't quite turned out how I expected).
The black-bottom cupcakes look wonderful, deep-chocolate-y brown around a pale gold, chocolate-flecked cream cheese middle. I'm running short on time now, beating together cream cheese frosting for the red-velvet cupcakes, packing up some biscuits I'd made in the morning for friends, and spreading the frosting and putting everything together. It's time to go.