The Sweetness of True Love

So folks, I did it again – word got out that I know how to bake, and I’ve become the “cupcake guru” with friends and loved ones. To be perfectly honest, I really enjoy it – there’s something almost therapeutic (for me) in baking, decorating, and delivering a batch of treats…in fact, it has few parallels. It’s a finished product, and one that you can receive direct feedback on. So in this instance, two very close friends of mine recently said “I do” – Robert Myers and Brandon Martinez. It was perhaps one of the most beautiful services I’ve ever seen (I cry in the movie Bambi, so of course I was a basket case). Like the last wedding I baked for, I had three varieties of cupcakes – the comedy and stress of making 150 cupcakes and getting them to the wedding (pictured above), once again, totally worth it.
This first variety was perhaps the most difficult. Robert and Brandon had a Fall-themed Wedding – hues of orange and cocoa created a warm, hunting lodge-esque ambiance (and the outfits of the bridal party and happy couple were stunning). So this first cupcake was a complement to that Autumnal feel: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel and Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s important to note that Brandon also requested caramel, and this was the perfect fix 😉
The hardest part of these cupcakes was the garnish : candied orange peel. I got a serious burn from these puppies (but that’s what I get for attempting an “Iron Chef” adroitness with boiled sugar…never again). They are a beautiful topping, but be warned – boiled sugar is a dangerous ingredient. Caramels, nut brittles – the secret lies in the risk. What’s funny about the caramel for these cupcakes is that it never reached the thickness I had planned for…and the result was a thin sauce that soaked into the cakes. While that may sound odd, trust me when I say that there were no complaints. Click HERE to see the recipe for these elegant cupcakes! 
The second cupcake was a Robert request – he is huge fan of all things tiramisu and chocolate, so I immediately came up with the idea to create Chocolate Cupcakes with Kahlua Ganache and Mascarpone Frosting. They were just as delicious as they sound. I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe, which always promises an extremely tender cake with a deep flavor. The best part about this recipe? It can all be made in one bowl, saving time and energy (a big plus when you have to make 50…)
Kahlua + chocolate = gold medal. The edge of espresso really deepens the “chocolatey” nature of the ganache, and kahlua is sort of awesome all on it’s own; a win-win situation. And for those of you who are curious, the alcohol is NOT cooked out of the ganache (though a single tablespoon will have little if any effect, I can guarantee it). Topped with a mascarpone frosting, these were absolutely decadent. I topped each one with a chocolate music note, to honor the happy couple’s musical lifestyles 🙂 Click HERE to see the secret to making these indulgent cupcakes! 
The third cupcake was the most playful of the three: Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Fluff Frosting. I loved making these, mostly because I love saying “Snickerdoodle” (you can’t help but smile every time you hear it). These were surprisingly reminiscent of the beloved cookie. They had just the right amount of spice, were beautifully sweet and yet perfectly light. You’ll find yourself looking back on those childhood days, sitting close the oven while awaiting these sugary sweets…
When thinking about what to frost these with, I looked to a baker’s best friend: Marshmallow Fluff. I know what you’re thinking, but when it comes to cupcakes it is truly a godsend – it’s fun, sweet, and will make a frosting with the ideal piping consistency. Of course, topping these with an actual Snickerdoodle cookie was just too good to resist. Click HERE to see the recipe for these fun little cakes! 
For the wedding procession, Robert and Brandon chose one of my favorite opera excerpts: the “Final Trio” of Der Rosenkavelier (Knight of the Rose). To say this is a beautiful moment hardly does it justice – it’s breathtaking and a real tear-jerker (you guessed it, this was another “Bambi” moment for me). Given it’s a trio, I started to look at how the characters of this scene could relate to the three cupcake varieties. The trio has the following three characters:

Princess Marie Therese von Werdenberg (The Marschallin) – an older woman who laments her early marriage to a Field Marshal.
Octavian – the Maschallin’s young lover, who she elects to be the Knight of the Rose for her cousin Baron Ochs’ marriage announcement.
Sophie – Sophie von Faninal, the fiancée of Baron Ochs who falls in love with Octavian.

The trio is the moment where the three come together, knowing that Octavian must choose whether he continues to be The Marschallin’s lover or leaves to be with Sophie. It’s a beautiful scene that speaks to the undeniable power of love, and was the perfect start to a gorgeous ceremony. In terms of these cupcakes, each one can be paired to this trio of dynamic characters. The Pumpkin Cupcakes suit The Marschallin quite beautifully – not only are they elegant, but they are far more complex than meets the eye. Octavian has to be the Chocolate Cupcakes with Kahlua Ganache – he is “filled” with an irresistible passion for life, and a capacity for love that is unstoppable. That leaves the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes for Sophie – a young woman whose heart and character are the definition of youth. The clip below is my personal favorite, with Anne Sophie von Otter (Octavian), Barbara Bonney (Sophie), and Felicity Lott (the Marschallin).

(credit Adam Workman)

To Robert and Brandon –  I wish you all the happiness in the world, for I don’t know a couple who deserves it more than you. There is no doubt that the two of you are meant to be together, and I feel truly blessed for having had the opportunity to experience such a beautiful union – all my best.

Sources Cited:
“Der Rosenkavalier,” Wikipedia.com

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