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Thanksgiving Cupcake Challenge: Give Us Your Best Turkey Gravy-Filled, No Cheating With Syringes

Marzipan Is So Last Year
Marzipan Is So Last Year
flickr user saucydragonfly

There are so many thoughts that come to mind with turkey gravy-filled cupcakes, Armageddon arriving two years early being among our current favorites. But once you step back for a moment to consider the Double Down of the pastry world (should cupcakes even fall under the umbrella of pastry, but that's a debate for another time), putting gravy inside a cupcake is an intriguing engineering feat, baking-wise.

We're not talking about the version Yummy Cupcakes is making this year. They fold gravy into the batter, which would simply require offsetting the added liquid with more flour (yawn). You could also squirt gravy directly into a baked cupcake with one of those fancy, and somewhat disturbing, "decorating syringes" (a pastry bag with any old tip works just fine). But what's the challenge in that?

Cupcake fans, if you're going to actually make a gravy cupcake, how about making one that is a truly monumental baking accomplishment?

A cupcake that people will remember for years. Or at least for the 24 hours the recipe lingers at the top of the Digg threshold for highly useless information. Actually, in this case one could argue, perhaps even successfully, that figuring out how to build a gravy-filled cupcake from scratch is a form of molecular gastronomy, and therefore that cupcake could very likely go down as the most important food discovery of 2010. Because we all know that both cupcakes and molecular gastronomy are vital to the future of American cuisine.

And so we invite you to think outside the box before you pop the top on that canned gravy this year. Just imagine the looks on your friends/family's faces were you to successfully devise a cupcake with a gravy-tinged batter that can also bear the weight of a congealed mound of gravy in the center (actually, a 12-pack of powdered gravy might be a more economical choice than canned, as these sorts of things tend to require multiple test runs).

We anticipate that your journey to the point of baked gravy bliss will be similar to what the Cook's Illustrated folks call the double chocolate "cupcake Catch-22" in their new book, The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011. The commercial chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing they tasted for a cupcake tasting and testing story earlier this year were either packed with chocolate flavor, yet dry and crumbly, or moist but hardly cocoa-kissed. In other words, they hated them all. America's Test Kitchen, as we are doing now, sought out more chocolate (or turkey gravy) flavor than the average cake batter delivers.

Eventually, the test kitchen folks turned to a chocolate ganache-filled cupcake center to amp up the overall chocolate flavor. There was also much testing and re-testing to make a batter that moist, and itself intensely chocolate flavored, yet also able to stand up to a chocolate center (baked right in, not added afterward). See where we're going with this?

Imagine it, the ultimate homemade turkey gravy cupcake, with gravy at the very core of its molecular structure and an added hit of day-old congealed lumpiness in the middle. And unequivocally, gravy-buttercream icing. Do let us know how it works out.


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