I never thought of myself as the finicky type. But, it turns out, I am–or at least can be–sometimes picky about my food. As a junk-food junkie, I just assumed that people saw me as an affable slob. I thought I WAS an affable slob. But, as my girlfriend points out, on an almost daily basis, I have strong opinions about the rubbish I put into my body. For instance, I like the way my Grandma makes lasagna. So, when my girlfriend makes it, sometimes I have helpful suggestions…even though I’m not the one making it. I know that it’s the cooking equivalent of backseat driving, but I can’t help myself. I also don’t like having salad on the same plate as my hot food. I don’t want the salad dressing to run into any other sauce that might be part of the main course. That’s reasonable isn’t it? I mean, that’s what salad bowls were invented for! As a last example–and more pertinent to today’s great thing–I am spoiled to particular types of cake frosting. My Grandma made really quality stuff. Her almond frosting on her chocolate cupcakes was to die for. But, not being a cook or baker so much myself, I’ve learned to love today’s great thing.
118. Betty Crocker’s Frosting In a Can
…just for the sheer delicious reliability. You see on that can where it says “quality taste guarantee”? You better believe it, brothers and sisters. I’m partial to the “Rich and Creamy” range but I wouldn’t kick the “Whipped” off the cupcake or anything.
At least with Betty Crocker’s grocery-bought variety, you know what you’re going to get–a satisfying buttercream frosting. You see, there are many different types of frosting or icing as the cake-topper is sometimes referred to. They range from simple glaze, like that on a ring donut, to tangy and thick cream-cheese style. It can get confusing and even perilous out there for a consumer. You’d think the simple task of finishing a cake would be something that any old idiot could do. Not true. Caveat emptor. Or as I like to say “caveat obesum”–let the fatass beware. Perhaps no other edible, save maybe pizza, has the potential to devastate so thoroughly as frosting–simply because regardless of what the sample in question might taste like, it will always look delicious.
The next time you are cake-shopping, consider this possibility: You are starving. You’re going to go home and make yourself a delicious sandwich. Let’s say for this exercise it’s a chicken salad sandwich. But, your sweet tooth is shouting at you that you need a cupcake. So, passing by a local bakery window and spotting a dark chocolate cupcake with creamy vanilla frosting, you choose to indulge yourself. You get that cupcake to go, race home, finish your sandwich, eat your apple and then you take your first bite of your reward…only to find that what you thought was going to be an intensely aromatic, sweet, and slightly firm but melt in your mouth frosting is actually rock hard and barely edible fondant.
Now I don’t know about you, but I would throw that cupcake at the wall. Or at least cry a little bit–the pitiful and bitter sobs of dashed expectations.
Fondant may be the absolute worst case scenario, but there are plenty of other pretenders out there too. Let’s have a look.
This cake, above, is either that marshmallow–meringue type or that simple whipped cream type. Both are considered to be of the ‘foam’ variety of icing. The latter sort of tastes like nothing. It’s like how lots of British folks use simple pouring cream instead of ice cream to top their desserts with. Whaaaa? Picture a chocolate souffle–piping hot, with a perfect scoop of vanilla ice cream ala modeing it…melting into the chocolate heat. Perfection. Now picture that same souffle with milk poured over it. Congratulations, you’ve just turned your delicious dessert into a breakfast cereal. Now, if it’s the marshmallow variety, it tastes like Marshmallow Fluff. It’s not hideous…it’s just not as good as it could be. It’s a desperate choice for someone who has run out of other ingredients.
Now this cake looks like it might be topped with either a sour cream or cream cheese based frosting. Depending on the cake type, this could be a winner. This group of frosting is known to be stiff but malleable with a nice bite…an edge to the sweetness. It’s an educated and worldly frosting for an expensive cake…like a coconut or spice cake. Fancy.
Now, I’m going to make an educated guess here and suggest that the cake pictured above has a ganache type frosting. These are typically super-chocolately and are generally nice to eat but they’re certainly more wet tasting than your standard buttercream. When ganache is good, it’s really good. Again, you’ll see this mostly on chocolate cakes. The more expenisive the chocolate used, the better.
The biggest offender HAS to be fondant style icing. It’s main purpose is to provide elaborate decoration and it has the added benefit of keeping the cake inside very moist. But, it tastes like despair.
If you take a bite, accidentally, of a cake that is topped with fondant, I would recommend spitting it out immediately and chasing it with a shot of rum. A bit of Mt. Gay will take the pain away and chase off any lingering bad tastes.
So, what’s the lesson here? When in doubt, go with a classic buttercream–of which Betty Crocker provides over a dozen varieties.
Now that you know how excellent Betty Crocker frosting is, why not buy a can and apply it to the following:
-Use it as a substitute for salsa
-Or rim your martini glasses with it?
Would you like to know more about frosting? In articulating what my mouth already knows, I found this website to be very helpful: The More You Know…ding!
Even more detail can be found here: Extra Credit
So, next time you’re window-shopping at the bakery, don’t be shy. Ask questions. Is it a buttercream frosting? If not…you might want to consider moving along. Or…just go home and pop open that sweet, sweet can of Betty C.
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