Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tropics in the Concrete Jungle

i love vacations. and i love spending them with best friends that are weird like me. i recently came back from a trip to nyc with my bestie ray, to see a bunch of our old high school buddies, including our other bestie bindu. bindu's one of those friends who tells it like it is. don't misspeak around her - she will correct you. don't act like you know something that you don't - she will call you out. this is what we love and (loathe) about her.  she's straightforward and real, and she's gonna be doing big things one day.

gross. when i compliment her too much, i get this weird charcoal feeling in my mouth. ehyuck.

anyway, B is a fan and supportive of the blog and upon seeing it the first time, made sure that we would be baking when i came to visit. we couldn't decide on a flavor (she's not a chocolate person - a testament to the notion that opposites attract, even for friends), so we thought it'd be a good idea to go around her predominantly dominican neighborhood and see if we could find some fun produce to turn into a cupcake. well, we found mangoes. and though mangoes aren't new to us, they were definitely a warm and tropical welcome to what has been an awfully cold winter! so, we whipped up boxed french vanilla cupcakes (that were a bit overbaked and left out to dry overnight... oops) - but they were saved when we went to town on a homemade mango frosting (recipe below), topped with fresh mango and strawberries. in retrospect, we would have liked a fruity cupcake too - maybe banana, or ooo pineapple! that would have definitely taken this to another level.

still, we had tons of fun with this cake. fun making it, licking the raw egg-rich batter, dipping more fruit in the extra frosting, coming home late at night and spooning up more frosting, and of course eating the cupcakes themselves. we even had a blast during the photo shoot for these suckers - preview NOW:

one of my fave pics ever - on the window ledge. 
amazing, RIGHT?! the how-to is below, but mind you we were working with limited kitchen utensils in B's kitchen. we made it work though. you'll probably have an easier time, but either way, it can be done. definitely try this frosting on any of your favorite cakes, breads, or as a fruit dip, as we inch our way into spring - you will NOT be disappointed :)

mango cream cheese frosting
  • 1 soft ripe mango, peeled and pitted
  • 8 oz plain cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
run the mango through a food processor until only a few chunks of mango remain in a pulp (or, in our case, dice it and then mush it as much as you can with your fingers!). push the mango pulp through a sieve to remove some juice, but don't worry about eliminating all the liquid. mix together the cream cheese and mango thoroughly - mixture will be thin. then, add 1/2 cup of sugar and stir till combined (a hand mixer is awesome, but you'll get an arm workout if forced to stir with a spoon like us). continue to add sugar 1/4 cup at a time until the desired sweetness (not consistency) is achieved.* spoon the frosting onto cooled cupcakes. top with optional garnish before placing in the fridge to allow frosting to set. 
*we thought about dumping sugar in until we got a thick frosting that we could pipe, but this frosting got real' sweet real' quick. furthermore, the longer the frosting sits, the sweeter and more fruity it tastes (yummm). so, go easy on the sugar and serve later in the day or the following day! 

optional garnish
  • 1 firm ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and finely diced
  • 5 firm, tart strawberries, hulled and finely diced
you know the deal - a little sprinkle action to add some sweet and tangy, and to make the cupcakes pop! then, parade your creation around town - the bright tropical flair is a perfect contrast against the famously concrete jungle :) 

the view from B's apartment window, which overlooks an emergency room (yes - its loud).
our gorgeous cupcake (though a little wilted) at our picnic in central park!
what a great trip to nyc - loved seeing old friends and meeting new ones :) can't wait to do it again! 

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