It’s Not The Heat, It’s The Humility


Humidity is a dish best served cold, preferably in an air conditioned dining room. Humility on the other hand can be served either hot or cold but damn its only May and already seems too hot to be preparing any kind of dish. Yea well if you can’t stand the heat don’t work in a kitchen. It’s that time of year again, when we forget about how much we bitched about the cold and couldn’t wait for it to warm up. But these days it warms up with an angry faced humidity snarling a chuckle at us now bitching that spring no longer springs eternal. Not one month ago everybody was offering to help me out working near the ovens to escape the deep freeze. Or perhaps to avoid shoveling the mounds of incessant snow. But now the chef’s clog is on the other foot as everyone springs out of the kitchen in search of air conditioning. Oh the Humanity, Oh the Humility. Oh, the Humidity!!

What happened to those days when young love and beautiful roses bloomed amid the even keeled gorgeous spring weather? Could it be global warming? Well let’s not open up that political can of worms or we will only bait each other over unrelated issues. The bottom line here is….Where the hell is spring? Not even one month of casual warmth? The four seasons are now nothing more than a fond memory and the name of Frankie Valley’s band.

The basic kitchen heat index equation is this, take the heat you feel outside, double it and add ten more degree’s and that’s what make a chef’s pores open up pouring sweat like a power shower headspray. On an extremely hot day there are nine circles of infernal hell around a stove and even Dante doesn’t want to be there cooking. Maybe a dip in the River Styx will cool things off.

Is it hot enough for ya? Too hot to handle? It’s a moot point because once you decide you want to be a chef heat is what you signed up for and heat is what you get. But who signed up for the humidity!? Actually the relative humidity itself seems relatively harmless. I mean its nothing more than the amount of water vapor in the air. But when the air is hot and the water is hot the vapor gets downright ornery. A hot and humid day can best be described as a sweltering steamy stifling sticky muggy oppressive heat that makes one all sweaty and clammy. Put that near an oven and that’s a chefs summer of love. No wonder so many of us chef’s consume so much beer.

As is often the case however I digress. Bottom line is I did choose to become a chef and it is a profession which requires a great deal of passion to take all the heat that both a kitchen and nature can throw at me. So I continue in my kitchen as always to bring the tastiest and best quality food I can create to the inhabitants of my universe. The main thing here is humility and as a humble chef to the universe I maintain my kitchen standards with passion, pride, and an iced cold IPA. Stay cool Y’all…

Cupcake Wrapper’s Delight… by Vanilla Cupcake Dude


Yo, Yo,
Everyone from the 123, grab a cupcake and follow me
Look, look.
I’m the cupcake dude and I’m here to say
Eat friggen cupcakes every day
Sweet and airy that’s my style
Eat one now it makes you smile
Pistaciaretto or Spice N Ice
Vanilla Classic is really nice
I dig Utopia and Serenity Now
But Sexy Sadie man make you say wow
Yea cup cup cupcakes, we got em stacked
Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes are really whack
Come on in you’ll dig the taste
Raz beret or raspberry lace
These cupcakes man their the bomb
Bring a dozen home give em to your mom, ….WORD!
Yea I make cupcakes that’s what I do
A hundred eighty flavors just for you
Cool Runnings, Red Velvet make you sing
Canoli eclipse and Bada Bing
If you got taste buds bring em to me
I’ll make them buds as happy as budds can be
Yea, yea, Jarets, yea Yea yea, Cupckaes Yea.
Eat em up Y’all
Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes
Tell them The Cupcake Dude sent ya!

Cuz I only Have Pies, For You

only pies

Is the dough out tonight?
I don’t know if I rolled it out right
Foooooor You

Ah yes, holidays are here and its time to get pie baking. Apple pies, mincemeat pies (which is what my Mom once threatened to make out of me), cream pie, chicken pot pie. Wait, what? Is that a three course meal, chicken…pot…and pie? Or is there a reason they call them pot pies? It begs the question, is it possible to use the same rolling technique I learned as a teen to roll out my pie dough? Perhaps. I remember the first time I learned to roll my own back in the day, so maybe it’s like riding a bike and one never forgets. In fact I believe if I had some rolling papers and something to roll in them this second I would till be able to create the perfect fatty. (Do I mean hypothetically? Perhaps)The real question is this, can I use that same long ago learned skill to make my pies for the holidays? Well The Existential Baker has never been one to give up without giving it the old culinary college try, so lets investigate. Nothing to lose anyway, if it doesn’t work I will just fall back to the old school daze of rolling when I was on the honor roll of joint rolling and set myself up with a good old fashioned doob. (definitely not hypothetic)
First I want to investigate the commonalities of smoking herb and baking. Here we go. Cakes are like the baggies of herb in weed world. A half ounce is like a six inch cake, a lid (very old term for between a half and an ounce) is an eight inch cake, and the five finger ounce is a huge ten inch cake. Quarter pound is a half sheet, and well you get the picture. The higher the quality the higher the cost. You can get a cheap store bought pre made cake for the price of Mexican green weed, a home-style bakery fresh cake for the price of Acapulco gold pot, or a custom made baked to order cake in the shape of just about anything which is like a purchase of killer Thai Stick. All of them taste great and make you feel good but the Thai Stick is by far the most enjoyable and impressive of highs. I specialize in cupcakes, which is more like smoking from a bowl of a multiple hose hookah pipe.
Picture this, a giant mushroom, a tie dye colored humongous caterpillar sitting on top of it smoking from a hookah pipe. He offers you a hit and you smile like a Cheshire cat. Either you’re referencing Alice in Wonderland or your doing hallucinogens not weed. Ease up on your THC levels. But back to the hookah. The multiple hose hookah he offers you is a pipe designed to offer a smooth smoke for multiple users, more than likely a must have in the good old opium dens where Eastern Mystics went to light up and chillax. That’s kinda what happens with the cupcakes, you sit around a table and everyone is empowered to enjoy whatever flavor they chose, unlike the basic chocolate layer cake which needs to be cut and portioned. And everyone get the same buzz. (From chocolate) With cupcakes the user, or eater, just picks whichever one they want and its all ready for them, in a nice neat self contained package. I also make bite size mini’s, which is like a set of one-hitters. Anyway, around the table you sit with the cupcake of your choice and you can use a fork or just stuff the dynamic flavored treat directly into your mouth. By using the best and freshest ingredients we bake our little treats then offer them up for consumption. Cupcakes may also be used for medicinal purposes, having properties which help combat depression and other mood related afflictions. No prescription is needed, just an okay from Web-MD or a simple self-diagnosis will do. But please use in moderation, cupcake withdrawal can be a bitch. That’s how a warped mind like The EB views his cupcake creations, like high grade pleasure inducing treats made individually for each one to indulge as they choose. We create preamo organic mind teasers and palate pleasers for your recreational or medicinal enjoyment. (for private parties I have been known to enhance them with ……. Lets just say more organics). But I’m off on a tangent which happens often when the mind is distracted by weed, I mean cupcakes, so back to rolling.
Back in the day the rolling papers were too small to make a proper fatty. We had to get resourceful sticking two papers together. The same concept applies with pies. Two separate discs of rolled dough for a fatty of a pie. Its important to get the dough to the proper thickness and size for the desired result. Once rolled its time to put the product inside. Lets say its some high quality sliced Washington State G-Mama Smith apples cut with some sugar and spices. Too much filling will rip the paper, so proportion is important but you want that mother stuffed to the max with a nice mountain of sweet surrender. Oh to live on, Sugar Mountain! Now we need to stick the two shells together. I’m not going to lick the pie dough because….well gross, so in place of my saliva I will use some whipped eggs and brush the edges gently just as I would have licked the glue. Using a rolling pin replaces the art of holding your product between index fingers and thumbs to roll it up. You won’t need that to roll out the dough but remember that skill because it will come in handy when you need to pick it up and place it on top of the apple mountain. Roll the dough in a circle a tad bigger than what you need then fold it in half. (use plenty of the white powdery stuff to prevent sticking) Then using thumbs and index fingers pick it up and place it on top of the apples with the crease across the middle. Use the aforementioned pinch method and flip it over the apple creating a pleasuredome. Gently press along the edges to seal, cut off the excess dough and crimp for a perfect fatty of an apple pie. Now its time to bake. Matter of fact, let’s put it in the oven and we’ll all get baked!
This may be a bit of a stretch, but when you get down to it many of the skills I acquired back in the days have come in handy working in kitchens. Cutting and portioning with a spatula or knife instead of a credit card, sifting flour at an angle just like cleaning weed on an album cover, or rolling dough the way we rolled joints. So when you get down to it, my youth was clearly not misspent, and I received a valuable education at school outside of the classrooms……PEACE

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Where Has All The Flour Gone? (Dealing with post baking blues)


Where has all the flour gone ,long time passing?
Where has all the flour gone, long time sifting?
Where have all my bakers gone
Scooped the bins everyone
Oh when will they ever learn
Oven makes the flour burn
(Pedro, Paula, and Marty, by bakers)

Finished the annual turkey an fixins, polished off all the Beaujolais Nouveau, had some leftovers, an checked the highlights from the traditional Thanksgiving sport, Mixed Martial Arts Shopping. Since Tueay morning we have been baking our asses off. Pumpkin breads, a variety of pies and cakes, a few thousand cupcakes and the list went on. A marathon of mixing, rolling, scaling, and baking for near about 38 of the 48 hours and now I’m exhausted. And I have post bakematic stress syndrome because all the flour bins and sugar bins have been depleted along with my spirit. The week before thanksgiving had me amped up with so much extra baking that I was on an adrenaline high. But now…..where has all the flour gone?

There’s a huge void in the cupcakery. True I can take a breath before getting re-stoked for the holiday rush still tom come but this day, this black Friday I a blue Friday for me. Bummed that the bakery looks like a war worn battlefield to organize fore the bake off for the holiday. The Hell with holiday, I’m gonna call it what it is for me, PC be damned. Getting ready for the Festivus rush! I should be happy because the airing of grievances, the feats of strength, and all the other peoples holiday rituals will be asking for more cupcakes an baked goods. But something’s wrong! No pumping, no jamming, no looking forward, the Thanksgiving rush has left not only me empty but the containers previously filled with that white powdery gluten riddled product. Where has all the flour gone?

I know, I know, careful what you wish for, when its slow I wish it was buy and when busy slow, and when its cold out I wish it was hot but when its hot and humid I wish it was….Not cold, Hell no! Maybe I wish it was cooler but nothing to do and cold weather sucks way more then too busy or too hot! So I’m miserable now. Not only a flourless kitchen but on top of all that it’s friggen cold as Hell. South Hell Pole to be accurate, which is so cold it makes a guy gonads hibernate in his intestines promising to return only once the heat gets turned on. South Hell Pole is that part of hell often refered to as “A special place in. There’s a special place in hell for him and that’s South Hell Pole. Oh yea it burns like a mother humper in regular hell, near unbearable heat every second of every day, but in South Hell Pole you shiver constantly until your goosebumps have goosebumps and every breath you inhale gives you brain freeze. That’s a special place! On the brighter side, there is flour there.
Therefore I will end all my bitching about how miserable I am and focus on how happy I’ll bee in the next few weeks when I’m sweating off my old ass while breaking in a new one in the kitchen that’s as hot as regular Hell. No more feeling sorry for myself, get up an fill those bins, get those pans ready, and get back to what I do best, baking. I am looking around my beat up kitchen with promise and hope as I head to the storeroom to grab a bag of …..wait…what? No more bags?
Oh woe is me, where has all the flour gone……PEACE

Upper Crust Tailgating


Existential cupcaking to raise money at The far Hill Steeplechase Race was an eye opener for the Existential Baker. We were asked by Neiman Marcus to supply cupcakes for their heavy hitting guests at The Far Hills racetrack who were donating bookoo bucks for a hospital. Always prepared to assist a great cause we agreed and had a nice section on top of a hill overlooking the track to set up. As a bonus I was permitted to enjoy some wonderful sushi and sashimi, shrimp, crab cakes, lamb chops, Veuve Clicqout Champagne, and to wash it all down some Grey Goose. It also afforded me an opportunity to walk around trackside to engage in some hoity toity people watching.

The existential Baker knows little of how to hobnob, never knowing if I’m hobbing or nobbing, but I am always at the ready for something new. Having lived amongst the 99% for my entire life I was unaccustomed to uppercrust customs. Now to start I am admittedly not much of a sport fan, but I have been to numerous football, baseball, and hockey games not so much for the cultural experience but more for the atmosphere. Not being vested in any one team made being an observer much less of a spectacle in a spectator sport. Never one to paint my face in team colors, or dress head to toe as if I should be on the field, or otherwise engage in any of the fanatical aspects of being a fan I watched. I enjoyed people watching even more than the sport itself. During Ranger Islander games I scoured the crowds noticing for all its negative publicity for fighting on the ice there were far more fistfights in the stands. At Yankee games I learned how elitist and condescending a fan can become, but football was the golden jewel of people watching by way of the phenomena of football tailgates.

The parking lot is transformed into cave-like tribal sections complete with all the grunting and food gorging and beverage swilling one would expect of a Neanderthal Reunion. Rival factions wearing their tribal colors begin the tailgate as friends and on an equal respect level until enough hops and malts are consumed to strengthen their bravado muscles. Mostly the ones in and around the vocal chord area. Each tribe has its tables and cooking sources and the food is nothing short of a famed Roman feast with a modern twist. Grills loaded with whole chickens, huge massive beef parts, lamb, more grilled items than an caveman could shake a stick at. A grilling smorgasbord with an array of sides. But the main function of the tailgate is to imbibe a massive amount of beer. The result is feuding tribes of sloppy drunk average guys and girls heading into a stadium to watch professional gladiators play a game. Not at steeplechases!!!

The difference was immediate. Their style of dress was not weekend warriors but reserve fashion chic with a few over the top statements like bright pink striped pants or unusual tophats, but very expensive clothing. Nothing off the rack, everything very chic. Burberry boots, Dolce and Gabbana, all the best. Like LL Bean on very expensive designer steroids. Hair recently coiffed, manscaped and manicured couples all in neatly pressed clothing. Their cave sections were less barbaric as well, instead of grille meats it was a catered affair, complete with waitstaff. Bars set up with premium liquors, chaffing dishes of food everywhere, and red solo cups? Oh Hell no, not at this party, actually glassware. And they openly place their bets on the horse. “Oh for heavens sake I dropped another ace” means Holy shit I lost a hundred bucks on that horse! But it was nothing short of just another tailgate, the result being a more sophisticate brand of drunken idiots. The buzz from Grey Goose isn’t much different from the buzz achieved by Wolfsmith vodka. A number of heated disagreements broke out leading to some major face to face reddened angry speak.

But in the end a lot of money was raised for a great cause and I had a opportunity to see how the beautiful people spend their free time during their preferred sporting events. All in all the guys were lacking in couth but it was accepted as boys will be boys banter, with a bit too much stress put on sexual innuendo. This leads me to believe that the well off young men are quite sexually frustrated, and either the sex talk went over much of the young ladies heads, or they just ignored the boys knowing that I have a headache will work later on. PEACE


Have A Cupcake, The Existential Treat

exist cc

The Only True Philosophical Question Is “Are You Gonna Eat That Cupcake?”

Existentialism is the philosophy of living your life with sincerity and passion. Life has meaning to an existentialist, its just not a predestined life or a life controlled by any religious boundaries. Basically existentialists are the rebels of creationism, deniers of nihilism, and singers of their own songs (some of us also dance but my guilty feet got no rhythm). A philosophy which embraces free choice but with a bit of moral responsibility and unlike anarchy there is an understanding of the cause and effect resulting in consequence. Being existential doesn’t absolve me of punishment when I screw up. But how can I bake existentially, and how are cupcakes the existential treat?
First the cupcakes. Are they really existential? It’s a question that would have stymied Socrates, perplexed Plato, and driven Kierkegaard Krazy. That claim may not be truly fair because cupcakes didn’t even exist until 1796 so Socrates and Plato are off the hook. But Soren may well have sampled a cupcake during his existing period. Quite possibly his Mom baked some in wonderful wonderful Copenhagen when he was jut a boy with a big brain
Like many of our treasured mysteries there is a bit of controversy over the name and history of our existential treat, the cupcake. While many believe it’s a reference to small cakes that were measured by the cup as opposed to scales, the more likely explanation is it was a cake baked in a small ramekins in the early 19th century. Most were baked by short elfish people of Denmark who lived in trees. The ovens were very small and all they could fit were a few coffee ramekins to bake with (don’t believe that I’m lying my existential ass off)
I theorize cupcakes are the most existential of treats because of its rebel nature and humble beginnings. Cupcakes understand their purpose in life is to bring joy and happiness to one who consumes it. It exists ready willing and able to serve when served. No need to cut these individual delicacies it into slices or break pieces off, it’s a self confident and self contained treat. The cupcake embraces its short life and if you look closely at a well engineered cupcake you can see its total essence has a much more profound understanding of self than all other treats. It stands loud and proud in the knowledge that it looks and tastes exactly as it chooses and it defies any control by religious orders. Never associated with the last supper or communion responsibilities, never on display in the shape of a rams horn of sitting Shiva, and always ready but not obligated to break the fast of Ramadan. The cupcake is however revered in many celebrations . It happily takes its cherished place of honor in Rio during carnival. But don’t pray for me Argentina, I’m a non secular treat and I am here for no other reason than to add joy to your life. My soul purpose is to enlighten your taste buds while coaxing a smile to inhabit your face.
.Filled with this information there is no doubt that Socrates, Plato, and Kierkegaard would have all agreed that each cupcake exists as individual and is committed to becoming someone’s personal choice. It sets itself apart from other desserts in the world of the existential. Try as it may the petit four, whilst appearing individually bite size in stature was baked as a much larger cake and cut into its shape. The cupcake begins, exists, and ends as exactly what it is to become, a lovely individual. That’s why cupcakes are the existential treat.
So that’s how cupcakes are existential but how does one bake existentially? Not as easy as it sounds because the production of cupcakes follow strict baking guidelines. I need to consider the laws of physics that allow the batter to rise and fill with air as the proteins go about setting up at the same time to trap that air inside insuring a fluffy texture. Once the laws of physics and nature are both understood, appreciated, and obeyed I can begin to alter basic recipe to give it individuality. That’s the job of an existential baker, to re arrange the recipe and introduce the cupcake to the processes necessary in completing it while allowing for its individuality at the same time. Each one is given its own bake spot on the pan and subjected to the proper temperatures to nurture it to become what it is, an edible existential beauty.
I also need to have a deep understanding of its roots. I celebrate the life of the wheat as it blows in the winds and soaks up sun’s energy until it gets harvested and milled into flour, the lives of the many chickens who sacrifice their eggs for our consumption on so many levels, and the cows that shared their liquid of life, mothers milk. The flavorings, the sugars, the leavening agents all have stories as well dating back even before the agricultural revolution. I never take their existence for granted, but I do refuse to follow militaristic styles of regimen in production. The times and amounts of baking in no two days are ever the same. Different intervals and different sized pans help to develop my cupcakes individuality and that’s how they take on my personality. I have always lived my life as if it were an improv. Or maybe a sit-com but I never give the things in my life too much structure. I opt to take things a they happen, accept them and deal with them. Then move the fuck on to the next path because life comes at us fast and furious even though we may find ourselves bored at times. That pretty much sums up my basic life philosophy, live an let live and share your magnificent essence with others to make them appreciate this wonderful world of ours. Play each card as it turns up and make the best from what you have. When it comes to baking that’s how I roll, like an Artisan Vienna loaf. JK, that’s not how I roll, its how I bake existentially. I don’t even make rolls, only cupcakes. ….PEACE

Writing The Great American Cupcake

Butcher, Baker, Story Maker

I am a chef by profession, a baker by accident, and perusing my original passion by choice. Before its too late. That means writing, using words to formulate artistic expression from the rambling thoughts that burn within this cranium. Or hippocampus or whichever part of the brain deals with the mysterious and unexplainable mental explosions.
I first got into cooking as a way to make money. I was 16 and already a rebel spirit who didn’t fully understand that knowledge was power. It wasn’t easy knowing everything but it was a chore I took on gleefully, making sure everyone knew how clever I was using my biting sarcasm. I had a decent job in a restaurant and knew I could do it all on my own and had no need extended education. Besides, I needed beer money, weed money, money to entertain lady friends, and money to save for a better ride. A beat up VW was cool for smoking pot with the guys but not much of a chick magnet. With only my beetle to cruise for love with I had to rely on my unyielding charm in order to get laid. Fate introduced me to a free-spirited hippie chick and then began its legendary twisting. Hence life snuck up on me and I found myself with a pregnant girlfriend. Ever the idealist I did the honorable thing and got married. We gave it our best go but it meant trading in my dream of writing the worlds hippest novel to a attending cooking school so I could raise a family. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today, that’s just a situation that took me off the course of chasing what I wanted, to become a writer. Missed opportunities but WTF.
I’m still cooking for a living. I did do some butchering, I worked at a number of high end New York City Restaurants, and food became my focus and my passion. The years pealed by and I became better and better at cooking, and more and more knowledgeable about food. It sidelined my passions until now. So this tiny segment of the writing world is where I am, and as small as my audience is they are faithful and encouraging. I was fortunate to have trained under a French chef who was young, passionate about food, and very cutting edge. He taught me technique, dexterity, and how to convert my pent up creative energy into food. He showed me that cooking can be more than just a job, it can be a creative outlet. That’s when I realized that writing is not so different that cooking. They both involve all the senses, as a chef I need you to enjoy the smells, textures, and tastes, and I need to make you see the beauty in my presentations and hear the sounds of what eating good food brings forth. Proper cooking is performance art. A writer needs to make you feel the same things without any props, with only words. We can’t use color, texture, aroma, taste or sound, we have to make the reader sense them, believe that they are right there.
That when I thought about this experiment. To describe the parallels between writing and cooking as it relates to science and art. Since cupcakes are what have become my marked territory these days, I’m writing the great American cupcake.
The first thing I do is conceive the composition of my cupcake. What the main flavor, where will I start it and how will I get to the end. So I don’t know what my finished product will be, but I know where to start. Once begun the cupcake will write itself. So I gather the basic elements of the story and place them all in a mixing bowl. Once in the bowl they blend together and begin to take shape. I have the basic start, the batter. Chapter 1.
Now I know what the cupcake will be about and its time to fill in the events. I need to follow some structure so the batter is symmetrical and forms in a manner consistent with the rest of the finished cupcake. If I baked the ingredients before mixing, the storyline of the cupcake wouldn’t make sense. It needs to have integrity. I choose what size pan and fill the batter in. Now its time to place it in the oven and let things begin baking. But at what temperature? That decision creates the first conflict the cupcake faces as the true story takes shape.
After the conflicts have percolated enough and resolutions have been achieved the cupcake comes out of the oven. I have my base and I set up the standards to follow. The look, smell, and taste of the story will remain consistent from here but I must add some more flavor and juicy situations, and of course some more conflicts. My brain has been working overtime, so now I need to decompress a bit. I let the story cool and I get drunk. Not because I want to, but because my art is so important to me I need to suffer. Hangover, here I come.
A good three bottles of wine and restless sleep has worked wonders for my cupcake bakers block. Idea’s course through my head while I’m in the shower. Why always in the shower?? I get my best ideas when I’m wet, naked, and without paper or pen nearby. My wife merely shakes her head as I run dripping wet from the shower to the desk to try and commit the recipe to paper. She suggests a small tape recorder but my problem is I’m old school, and my creativity runs through my fingers. Besides, I hate the sound of my own voice, it makes me sound so dorky.
At any rate the pounding of hot water on my body shook loose a new cupcake plot twist. A pomegranate and plum custard filling! A cupcake love triangle, which always interests the reader! So be it, the very second I arrive at the bakery I take out my keyboard and begin to prepare the tasty custard, with its silky rich texture. Once it becomes cool enough I inject all that drama into the center of the story. Now the cupcake continues to write itself and takes shape. But this is the tedious part, filling in all the cracks. Maybe I should go back and rewrite part of the cupcake, I sense that something about it just isn’t perfect. I struggle with the cupcake for days and finally decide to keep going to the end when I will edit the whole thing.
Now for the icing on the cake. (that wasn’t an analogy, its time to ice the cupcake) I won’t say the icing is the most important part of the story, but it has to have a powerful statement, and have the consumer understand how the entire cupcake came to this point. It needs to leave a lasting impression. Maybe even set it up for a cupcake sequel.
The finish has to have everything. The look, the feel, the taste, and a sense of continuity leaving the one eating it with a sense of closure. After ingesting the tastes the reader has vested so much personal time in its impotents to reward them with a strong finish, the story should leave a good taste in the readers mouth and hopefully such a good taste they will think about the baker next trip to the bookstore.
I guess what I’m really saying here is directed to the young written (or typed) word expressionists here. Never quit, never give up. If you have to take on a job to live do it, but continue to write in your spare time. All your work is worthy, don’t toss any away. Even when you get pissed at what you wrote and in a fit of self deprecation decree your work unworthy don’t. Put it aside, pour a vodka, light a joint, meditate, so whatever calms you down and chill. Rest the brain waves for a while. I have a few notebooks of written emotion that have been discarded and sent to a senseless death. Keep writing, keep dreaming, keep believing. A cupcake will go stale but a great idea will last forever if you put it into words…..PEACE

Cupcake Tops With Peeps?? Off With Their Heads

Watch Me Pull An Easter Bunny Out Of My Hat

Another holiday another challenge. It doesn’t matter your culture, your religion, or your nationality, if it’s a holiday and your in the food business in any form, you need to know all about it. That’s how an existentialist baker ends up being challenged with tapping into the cultural aspects of holidays like the one facing me now, Easter. Yea, yea, yea, I get it. Palm Sunday Jesus came to town on his ass (I have to admit hearing this as a kid made me chuckle). Him and a dozen compadres ate together for the last time and it was a feast fit for a vampire. All body and blood. One of the twelve dudes dropped a dime on the J man and Roman guards whipped him and then crucified him. A few days later his ghost rose from the dead and they proclaimed it a holiday. Celebrating his death seems counter-intuitive but religious obsevervances have always befuddle me a bit.
No matter, I’m not making a cupcake that rises from the dead nor am I making one out of wafers or wine. I am tapping in to the cultural aspects of Eater. The happy stuff, like the candy part. So what do I have to work with? Chocolate bunnies are too old school and besides, they already have a stronghold just being themselves. Jelly bean are a must, I can do something with those classic favorites. What else? Peeps! Now there a tradition worth raising some insulin levels over. A marshmallowy ball of cooked sugar coated in……more sugar of course. Only colored sugar.
Not just yellow anymore, these stretchy marshmallow treats shaped like little chicks come in array of color these days. Pink, Green, Blue, purple, and the old standby, yellow. And not just little chicks, these Easter basket must haves can be either a chick or a bunny. Gender appropriate candy, amazing how much we have evolved. Evolutionary advances aside, I plan to stick to the original. Well original shape anyway. So I’m set. I will use jelly beans for one and Peeps for the other.
Just making a jellybean cupcake or a marshmallow cupcake is not much of a challenge for The Existential Baker. I need to dig deep own into my creative culinary depths and so something different. So not cupcakes for this holiday, but Cake Sliders. Or maybe I’ll call them stuffed cupcake tops!? Elaine made it work with muffins on Seinfeld so WTH?
The first one will be Stuffed Jellybean Cupcake Tops. Now I am somewhat of a jellybean aficionado. Gourmet, No name, spiced, Jelly Belly, all brands, all types. I’ve tried them all. (with the exception of the jelly bean featured in Harry Potter. However, if they were available to me…..) But The Existential Baker can’t just make what he like best, I need to make what works the best for my cupcakateers. After careful sampling of a number of easily available jellybeans it hit me like a sugar rush. A stomach ache. After a few Zantacs and some Pepto, I went back to my notes and discovered that the winning bean contestant was the “LifeSaver” brand jellybeans. Why them? None of them singularly overpowers the others, the coloring and size is perfect, and the flavors blend effortlessly. Since there are apparently no beans left from the testing I went out and got ssome more.
My first attempt was a bit of a disaster. I placed some vanilla cake batter in the whoopee pans, topped them each in an artistically arranged collage of jellybeans and popped them in the oven. Cooking time is about 12 minutes so I checked them after about six. To my dismay the designs had sunk to the bottom and seemingly disappeared. No worries, I’ll flip them over when they finish and cool. Uh uh..No, no, no! Thee delectable cute innocent jellybeans refused to let go of pan. The cake part had no such attachment and instead of having my base I had to carefully clean the mess and start again.
Once bitten twice shy I settle on the same theme with a new approach. This time I filled the pans with vanilla cake batter and right into the oven. After six minutes I removed the pans, sprinkled them with jellybeans in a totally random pattern and back into the oven. It had to be done quickly and efficiently, and I felt like the Jason Bourne of cupcakery. Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum. The most perfect looking cupcake tops ever. Randomly arranged and barely beginning to show signs of melting they were a masterpiece. Now to cool and fill.
A variety of flavors began dancing in my mind. What best to fill these beauties? I settled on a strawberry custard and chopped up the remaining jellybeans and folded then inside. The result was a pleasing pastel pink custard dotted with an assortment of tiny bright-colored jellybean segments. I placed a scoop of the delish filling on top of half my cupcake tops, reserving the prettiest ones for the toppers. Another success for the EB’s guests at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes this weekend. But I’m not done there, I need to do something with the Peeps.
“Peeps for my Peeps” cake sliders take center stage to the cupcake tops understudies. This time I used a heart shaped pan, because I love my peeps. Not the candy, my peeps. Yea, I have peeps! A few anyway. But I digest, lets move on. This was a bit more of a challenge for a few reasons. First those cute little chickies are hard to cut up, and if you put them in a bowl together they begin to re-knit into a glob of marshmallow madness. The other challenge was the presentation. What I wanted to do was top each heart shape slider with a head of the Peep. Just the head, the whole Peep would look messy. But will the EB look like a murdering marauder who hangs the heads of his prey like a trophy on the wall? A game hunter proudly displaying his kill for all to see atop a cake slider? Will it cause lasting scars on the hearts of my little peeps? Will my peeps children forever view me as the villain that slew packets upon packets of sugary chicks removing their heads? Profound quandary. I mean after all I am a lifelong pacifist. I admit to killing more than one lobster during my days of restaurant life. That lobster scream still ways on my conscience. But these Peeps are not and never have been alive. So I can move forward with eight inch chef knife in hand and remove the heads of my peeps. The candy, not the people.
There it is. Heart shaped chocolate and vanilla sliders waiting patiently to morph into a treat. I had reluctantly beheaded all the colored Peeps and set them aside. What to do with the bodies? Wrap them up in blankets and toss them in the sink? No, no way. I want the short temporary lives of those seasonal marshmallow favorites to mean something. So I cut them into pieces. This created another problem. As I mentioned they have an uncanny ability to reform into larger pieces of themselves in various shapes. My solution was to cut and mix in small batches using some marshmallow fluff to keep them bound . Success! Next I took said mixture of mallows and folded them into some vanilla mousses. The result was a bowl of marshmallow mouse dotted with pastel pieces of Peeps. A scoop on a heart shaped cake, topped with another heart happed cake, then adorned with a small dollop of buttercream. Then the prized peep head went on top. Cute, but I feel like they are all looking at me now. Menacingly!! How I suffer for my art!!
Happy whatever you celebrate. If you don’t celebrate any specific occasion, then Happy Life.. What better to celebrate than that???….Peace

1-2-3-4, I Declare A Cupcake War

The EB gives it 2 thumbs down

Near about every day someone will say to me “You guys should be on Cupcake Wars.” Like this is our magic bullet and it will make Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes blow up huge! Well intended advice but total bullshit. But this is something I’m used to. I owned a small restaurant before I began my journey toward cupcake excellence. Everyone unfamiliar with the restaurant industry seems to know exactly what will make a restaurant successful. Owners get advice on a daily basis. “You know what you should do? You need to put this rice lasagna my Mom makes on the menu. I’m telling you, everybody loves it. You’ll make a fortune.” Others offer up their own personal recipes for various dishes. Yet they came to eat in my houe so I believe there should be a presumption that I am in possession of numerous recipes of my own. They freely explain how carrying this beverage or serving that fish on your menu is “what you need.” I wonder if they made suggestions to an electrician, or a carpenter. “Hey, use the green wires more, people really like that. You know if you use copper nails it will last longer.“ Or even worse, tell a doctor how best to treat an ailment. “You know if you prescribe more valiums you will have happier patients.“ (yea, that was my advice but I really think that one will work!) After all now that we have WebMD so who needs a professional? Now we can treat ourselves. The food business is something easy. That’s how they know all about. Why the hell they don’t have their own restaurant? When I had a restaurant I got more advice than Dr. Phil gives in an entire season. So now that I’m a cupcake engineer and no longer a chef, they advise me to get on cupcake wars. Just do that and I will become famous.
The truth is I have been asked, over 3 time now and when first told about Cupcake Wars I was quite naïve about the show . When I was asked to be in Cupcake Wars it conjured up an image of troops of small cakes slugging it out on battlegrounds like wood tables covered in flour, stainless steel tables, and gigunda mixing bowls. The combatant cakes are outfitted camouflage cupcake liners and carrying the appropriate weaponry of any kitchen worth its baking soda. Duking it out with war tools such as knives, spoons, whisks, spatulas, an rolling pins. They engage in fierce battles smashing innocent cakes in the process and await the reinforcement of the heavy artillery. In come the big machines. The food processors, power mixers, batter dispensers, and enormous rotating ovens. The cupcake war escalates into a shock and awe campaign as huge flames arise from the oven hearth and extreme heat takes over the war theater. The sound of forced gasses and flickering flames fill the air and the smell of burning gas penetrate the prep area as wafts of thin white smoke billow off the carbon etched, war torn cupcake pans. Cupcakes have declared war!
What’s next, Teddy Bear Battles? Hello Kitty Conflicts? How can anything as sweet and innocent and so amazingly tasty and satisfying possibly be involved in a war? Obviously I knew it wasn’t really a cupcake war but it did in fact warrant a little investigation. So on to Google and then Wikipedia where I found out that Cupcakes Wars is a reality based competition show on The Food Network. Reality based? What the hell does that even mean? Armed with this information I felt compelled to take it to the next level. The only sensible course of action for me was to engage in an activity that is extremely rare for me. When I got home I turned on the TV and tunes into The Food Network to watch the show.
Watching the Food Channel is rare? Most people are indeed shocked to find out that I so rarely ever watch The Food Network. They get very indignant and question me as if we were in the Culinary Inquisition. “But you’re a chef, how can you not watch The Food Network?” Apparently it’s the responsibility of a chef to watch shows about what they do for a living. It turns out the Food Network is designed to entertain people in all walks of life who have more than a passing interest in food, and not a network designed for chefs to share recipes and ideas. My response to them is “If I was a plumber, do you think that after plumbing all day long I would want to go home and watch shows about nothing but plumbing?” The truth is if the network were really designed to entertain chefs it would be mostly about inept waiters and waitresses during epic fails while the sweat saturated kitchen staff laughs so hard their ass bones begin loosening. That’s something I might watch. When I finish a long hard day in the kitchen and I sit down to relax the last thing I want to see is more kitchen. Give me serial killers, lawyers. Doctors and nurses, detectives, or even makers of meth. (Although techniquely the meth does get cooked!) I want to escape the world that I work in for sometimes 14 hours a day. I look towards TV to take me away from my ay to day an entertain me by allowing me to escape into new realms. But I needed to know what this Cupcake Wars was all about.
Needing to understand the concept of cupcake wars for myself I watched an entire show which fro me at least, was a tedious process. It turns out its not a war at all, but a competition between bakers based on an age old culinary tradition, the Mystery Basket. The mystery basket has been used for years to help teach young culinarians skills and to hone their creative process and resourcefulness. Its even used when a chef goes for a certification. The chef is given a basket, or tray these days, with an assortment of foods on it and they are asked to create complete meal, appetizer, entrée, and dessert using everything on the tray as well as some of the basic ingredients in the pantry. They are given a specific time constraint and they are judged on taste, presentation, and creativity. Quite often these days mini mystery baskets are a stage of the interview process where the potential employer may get a chance to investigate your style of cooking, your ability to prepare and blend flavors, and how well you work under pressure. I have always felt this somewhat ineffective and a waste of time because if your resume will reflect your style and capabilities. I have had to perform a few of these interviews and for me it was easy because improvisational cooking has always been my strongest suit. For many others who are equally as talented but may be the type who prefer to carefully plan an document their course of preparation (like an accountant may) the challenge could present unfair advantage to my loosey goosey cooking style. But is is a barometer of how well one can think on their feet an it is a great learning tool.
The major difference in the game how however is that other factors come into play. Drama and conflict. Without these two gratuitous concepts the show would be of little interest and as fast paced as watching a snail running from a French chef. They pit 4 pairs of culinary bakers, most of which own their own shops, against each other and try to create a diverse cross section of cute young entrepreneurs, grouchy old lifelong bakers, and some serious cupcake makers hoping to create their dynamic business venture into an overnight success via winning the contest. They are judged by 3 wannabe American Idol judges, a European who can be testy and sharply critical, (Le Simon). an everyone wins because I’m okay your okay compassionate woman who hasn’t a mean bone in her body, (Le Paula) and an influential guest judge that has a vested interest in the winner as they will usually hire the winner for a “special event”. (Le rotating Randy)
For me the show is part of a larger sub-culture of entertainment that portrays an industry I have vested way too many years in, and worked way too hard at to see turned into a novelty act. In my day chefs worked their asses off, put in ridiculous amounts of hours in, and earned enormous respect due to their talent and integrity. Now potential chefs graduate culinary school and hope to get a TV show. Granted it is entertaining to its demographic but to me it reduces my life’s work into a slugfest of personalities where its not the most creative and flavorful food that wins, but the best personality or the most manipulative. They attempt to increase the viewer enjoyment by creating challenges through forcing the usage of unusual products. That’s great if the challenge is meaningful, but to put things like tobacco, or nacho cheese and hot dogs is just for sheer enjoyment and not a creativity challenge. I get it, it’s very popular and has millions of viewers, but even if one make a great cupcake, if they have no TV presence they can leave the show scarred as a loser. And even those who win will experience a spike of popularity, and business will grow out of curiosity, but most times it isn’t long lasting. I want a solid business grown on strong principles and hard work. But if you do ever hear of a show that wants to showcase an honest existential cupcake poet, give me a call. Or better yet, I’ll get some people and you can call my peeps……..PEACE

Its Who I Am, Not What I AM!

Zen and the Art of Cupcake Making

I’m just a man who makes cupcakes. That’s my job, it’s what I do. Everyday I set out on a quest to achieve cupcake Nirvana. I begin my quest by assembling an assortment of biodegradable food products in an attempt to get them to form an allegiance with a single goal in mind. To reach out and grab your taste buds by the hand, take them out to the dance floor and have them spinning and tapping into a deliciously satisfying frenzy of a Tango that leaves you with a blissful smile and lasting memory. No small undertaking is this. I enter into this task every day with enthusiasm and optimistic energy .It’s a responsibility we take very serious at Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes. Each and every day we combine a variety of foods that if left on their own would be relatively insignificant and transform them into 1,000+ taste bud pleasing treats. That’s over 1,000 blissful smiles produced daily. We make vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, lemon, coconut, and peanut butter cupcakes. We take flours and flavors and mix them with other organic foods like eggs and milk, and lay them carefully in a bed of paper inside a special cupcake pan. We subject these mixtures to extreme heat for the perfect amount of clicks of the clock and they rise to the occasion. Exposing them for the proper time is like getting the perfect tan at the beach but avoiding a painful sunburn. Once the cupcake has achieved its full and even body tan we cool them down and give them a rest. Fully cooled the time has arrived for them to be injected with another flavor concoction designed to unite with the chosen cake and create an even more complex structure of flavors. It might be a mousse or custard, a jam or jelly, or any number of creative and innovative treats. One cupcake actually gets a hand chopped portion of apple pie, crust and all. But we’re not finished yet, as if that weren’t enough we then top it off with something sweet that compliments the final product. “Your hair looks great today cupcake, and you haven’t changed a bit since the good old mixing bowl days.” “Thanks for the compliment icing, now lets go take some taste buds on the dance floor and cut the rug!” At this point the cupcake has become a tower of deliciously harmonized flavors clamoring to complete the task of brining your taste buds into perfect balance with the universe. That’s what this unassuming cupcake maker does. I create astral symmetry using every ounce of culinary training I’ve experienced. I’m The Existential Baker who balances the universe by making pleasurable sweet treats. I make cupcakes.
But The Existential Baker is just a name and making cupcakes is just job, it describes what I do. It doesn’t define me. It does give me a few titles though. I’m a chef, a baker, a business owner. I’m also a hippie, a rock and roller, a writer, a culinary poet and an existentialist. We go to great lengths to try and identify categories to stick each other in. The butcher the baker the candlestick maker. It’s what we’ve been taught since we were young and it just gets more complicated as we age. In school we were nerds, jocks, hippies, greasers, stoners, or just plain losers. In the workplace we were grunts, stockers, sweepers, laborers, supervisors, managers or bosses. That wasn’t enough so we created sub-categories and we get downright obnoxious at times. She’s a slut and he’s a ladies man. He’s an aggressive go getter and she’s a bitch. Pretty one sided for a double standard. We try to compartmentalize each other based on opinions or beliefs. Are you a liberal or a conservative? God fearing or Atheist? Winner or loser? Rich or poor? Gay or Straight? Male or Female? Every one of those categories have one common denominator. They can all fit into the category of human being. All too often we work so hard to find our differences we forget how similar we are. We focus so much energy on what sets us apart that we forget how alike we are. For some people its an attempt to somehow make themselves feel superior. That seems rather insecure to me. In reality we are living breathing snowflakes. Not any one of us is an exact duplicate of any other living snowflake. We all have special points that make us unique and beautiful. When snowflakes co-operate and band together they create beautiful landscapes, blankets of slick snow banks that thrill many a skier, or even a powerful storm, but when they fight each other they melt and become droplets of water destined to become lost in a river or sea. Snowflakes are innately beautiful in part because a snowflake by nature is an existentialist. Without question or complaint they are constantly working together and helping each other out with total disregard of compensation. We could learn so much if we paid more attention to all the other snowflakes. I believe if I could learn how to make cupcakes as incredible as snowflakes I could be a cupcake deity. But then I would be put into another category and we sure do have enough of those.
The Existential Baker is just a name, it’s what I do. But now, as soon as the first person read a post of mine I was transformed into an existentialist philosophical cupcake making hippie hipster business owning blogger. How many of us are out there?…Never underestimate the power of a cupcake. Peace