Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Movember Manly Cupcake Contest — Mos of the Movies

It is estimated that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Compare this to 1 in 8 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and the disparity between how much publicity, fundraising, and research is dedicated to each seems obscene — breast cancer receives far more on each of these counts and as of 2010, breast cancer research received double the funding as prostate cancer research.

Given that I participated in Frosting for the Cause — an online organization designed to raise awareness and funding of women’s cancer research — last month, it seems only fair that I do something for the leading male cancer.

Enter the 2011 Manly Movember Cupcake Contest — an online competition to create the tastiest and manliest cupcakes that fit the theme "Mos in Movies," while raising awareness of prostate cancer. I’m so there!

The night I discovered the 2011 Manly Movember Cupcake Contest, I reached out to some of my friends for ingredient suggestions. Some thoughts fit the quintessential college “dude” — beer and bacon, but one friend of mine went totally off script and suggested “Butternut squash, a peppery bourbon (like Maker's Mark or Knobb Creek), maybe amaretto added in if you could get that much alcohol to stay solid?”

I didn’t want to recreate his vision in full — I’d already gotten it into my head that I wanted to incorporate scotch whiskey into either my cupcake or the frosting, but I couldn’t shake his idea of a squash cupcake.

I love squash of all kinds! Butternut and acorn squash have a similar consistency and taste as pumpkin, but are more often overlooked in the dessert world. Yellow summer squash and patty pan squash are very similar to zucchinis and served well as the star ingredient in the Patty Pan Squash Muffins I made over the summer. I’ll eat any type of squash for a main entrée any day, but is squash manly?

Let’s analyze a typical winter squash – it’s robust. It’s hearty. It’s not too sweet. It’s sort of man-like in a way, I guess. Top it with some seasoning and it could be well on its way to providing the base to a great manly cupcake. So that’s what I did.

I experimented with some spices and decided I could “man up” the squash with some black pepper among other flavors. Don’t knock black pepper in a cupcake until you’ve tried it. Black pepper is great for seasoning steak, potatoes, and other “man” foods, and in these particular cupcakes, it’s the magic secret ingredient.

On to the scotch – let’s put it in a frosting!

Know who loves scotch? Ron Burgundy.  You can conduct a YouTube search of Ron Burgundy and scotch to hear him declare: “I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly...”

Why Ron Burgundy. Well, the opening lines of the movie Anchorman give justice to his character in more eloquent words that I could muster: 

"There was a time, a time before cable. When the local anchorman reigned supreme. When people believed everything they heard on TV. This was an age when only men were allowed to read the news. And in San Diego, one anchorman was more man then the rest. His name was Ron Burgundy. He was like a god walking amongst mere mortals. He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo. In other words, Ron Burgundy was the balls.”

Yes, put simply, Ron Burgundy was and still is “the balls.” He also sports one KILLER mustache.

A few years ago for Halloween, some friends of mine dressed up as the Channel 4 News Team. I swiped the picture off one of their Facebook profiles  — See the resemblance?

From left to right: Champ Kind, Brian Fantana, Ron Burgundy, and Brick Tamland.

I picked a brown sugar pseudo-butterscotch frosting recipe that incorporated liquor and adapted it a bit to accommodate a manly amount of scotch whisky.

On top of the scotch-spiked frosting, I attempted to create chocolate symbols that highlighted signature element of each male member of the Channel 4 News Team.

  • A cowboy hat for Champ Kind — “I’m kind of known for my catch phrase WHAMMY”
  • A black panther for Brian Fantana — on sex panther cologne: “They’ve done studies you know? 60% of the time, it works every time.”
  • A sexy man mustache for Ron Burgundy — “I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal…. I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”
  • A lamp for Brick Tamland — “I love lamp.”

Veronica Corningstone didn’t get to participate in this particular cupcake photo shoot because “It’s anchorMAN, not anchorLADY. And that’s a scientific fact” (Champ Kind).

On to the recipe:

Spiced Acorn Squash Cupcakes (a Young Idealistic Baker original recipe):
Makes 12 cupcakes
  • 1 cup acorn squash puree
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated black pepper

Acorn Squash Puree Directions:
  • Halve a small acorn squash that is very dark green in color, scoop out seeds, butter and salt edges, and bake inverted in between two pieces of aluminum foil at 375 degrees F for 1 hour
  • Let squash cool completely before scooping and mashing the pulp into a puree for the cupcakes

Cupcakes Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with cupcake lines
  • In a medium bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy
  • Add sugar and beat until light brown and fluffy
  • Add eggs, one at time, blending after each addition
  • Add squash puree and vanilla and blend again
  • In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and spices
  • Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to the batter until everything is incorporated
  • Distribute batter evenly among muffin tin and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (it will look wet, but not crumby)
  • Cool in muffin tin until cool enough to touch, and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely

“Say cool again” … “cool.” (Name that very un-manly movie — hint: cool is not actually the word that was used)

Brown Sugar Scotch Frosting (adapted from Annie's Eats):
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided and softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons scotch whisky
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted 

  • In a medium sauce pan, heat 1/4 cup butter until golden brown and fragrant — about 3 minutes, watch carefully so it doesn't burn
  • Add brown sugar, milk, and salt and whisk until sugar dissolves
  • Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly for 3 minutes
  • Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bow
  • Blend for 3-5 minutes on medium speed, let sit 5 more minutes, then blend again — bowl should be cool to the touch before adding remaining ingredients
  • Add scotch and remaining butter and blend until incorporated
  • Add powdered sugar and blend until incorporated and at a spreading consistency
  • Cool frosting for 30 minutes before piping (this helps it keep its shape)

Reactions to these cupcakes included: "They have a nice bite — not too much," "I like the texture, I like it all," "That's squash!?! What the #$@%, I don't even like squash," and "Oh, Beth!" accompanied by a nod of approval. Ron Burgundy was actually on the verge of tears after tasting a cupcake and he cried out: "I'm in a glass case of emotion!"

As this post is first and foremost about raising awareness of prostate cancer, I urge you to visit Livestrong to educate yourself and/or find ways to contribute to the cause. You should also visit The Movember Foundation for more information and visit the C&C Cakery's Movember Charity Page to donate

Many contributors have offered to donate prizes to the winner of this contest — really great looking prizes!

The Manly Cupcake Contest Prize Sponsor's Include:

Happy Movember!

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