In like a lion!

Bit of a misplaced simile, that title, but the weather here is springlike by most states’ standards and 2011 did indeed begin with a roar — and a roaring hangover. December 31st marked not only the end of 2010 but also the 30th birthday of one Aaron Kyle Hook (holla!). Asked how entry into the “adult world” felt, Mr. Hook noted that it “doesn’t feel that much different than 29.” Fair enough. I guess I’ll validate (or dispute) that sentiment when I get to 30 myself.

To celebrate NYE and Hook’s passage into True Adulthood, we camped out at the Latin American Club, getting there early to snag the table on the mini-stage with the Xmas tree. (Note: To those who don’t live in SF, the Xmas tree is not there year-round. Someone hasn’t done their post-holiday cleanup…) I love LAC; the space just feels right. Perhaps it’s the flock of pinatas hung high above the tables, the throwback wall decor, the surly bartendresses with an affinity for Pavement. I don’t know — these factors aren’t unique to LAC, but the combination of the decor, the clientele, the music, and the cheap, strong drinks make LAC one of my three favorite bars in the city.

Happy new year -- 1978 is going to be rad.

Aaron isn’t much of a dessert fan. Given a choice between a hearty wedge of cake and a big pile of chips & salsa (or a tray of hot links), he’ll choose the latter. Still, no birthday is complete without birthday cake of some sort, so I made a batch of Five Egg Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream Frosting.

The cake recipe is my mom’s. She learned it in her eighth grade home ec. class, taught by one Mrs. Nehry, a “tall, thin brunette with bony hands and dry-looking hair.” Every year during my youth, I requested this chocolate cake as my birthday cake of choice. It wasn’t until last March, when my mom was in SF and baked me a batch of these cupcakes as an early birthday treat, that I realized (with mitigated horror) that the secret to the cake’s exquisite moistness is the inclusion of five eggs. Oy! Good thing birthdays come but once a year.

I wasn’t about to bring one of my baking pans to the bar, knowing full well that the pan would be left behind and that I’d be too shamefaced to retrieve it from the lost & found, so Aaron rigged a special double-layered cupcake carrying case from some old mailing boxes. The box was an engineering marvel. The cupcakes weren’t too bad, either. In fact, one of our party exclaimed, “Damn, girl!” upon tasting my frosting — high praise, indeed. I must admit that almond buttercream is even tastier than regular buttercream (which, I mean, come on! I didn’t think anything could be tastier than regular buttercream). There’s still some frosting in my fridge: perhaps I’ll make a batch of post-birthday cupcakes for Hook and keep the party alive. And, dear readers, you are all invited for cupcakes and beer.

Happy new year, all! I hope your days are filled with moderate weather, Tecate, good olives, and friendship.

***

Five-egg cake can be made in any flavor you like because — surprise! — it begins with cake mix. (I know, I know: this isn’t a “real” recipe, and even I’m a hater when it comes to mixes, but once you try this cake, you’ll be less of a hater — your mouth will be too full to insult the so-called chef’s lack of initiative.) I’ve always made chocolate, but lemon with almond frosting also sounds mighty fine.

Five-egg Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • One box cake mix (any flavor)
  • One box pudding (same flavor as the cake mix)
  • Five eggs
  • 1/2 cup each of water, milk, and vegetable oil

Method

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, beating (by hand) for two minutes. If you’re making cupcakes, fill cups 2/3 full; if you’re making a sheet cake, fill your greased/floured 13×9 pan. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes for cupcakes, 45 minutes for a sheet cake, until inserted pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and frost at your leisure.

Almond Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

  • One pound powdered sugar
  • One stick of butter, softened and cut into rough chunks
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • One teaspoon almond extract
  • Food coloring (optional)

Method

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until well-integrated. Eat with a spoon. Frost responsibly, friends!


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