Halloween Recipes – Making Spooky Cupcakes

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 40,643
    Pastry chef David Guas shows how to make festive cupcakes for a Halloween treat.

    David Guas

    In September 2007, Pastry Chef David Guas exchanges his longtime corporate role for an entrepreneurial path that includes private consultation, boutique catering, cookbook authoring, and, eventually, his own retail bakery. Damgoodsweet Consulting Group, LLC, the irreverent name he has given his company, is the perfect description for all of his work. In the beginning, however, odds were against the native New Orleanian having a culinary career at all. His family expected him to become a doctor. It was clear to this young man, however, that becoming a chef was his calling and the only path he could ever consider. Fortunately for Guas, his family background actually helped him chase his dream, all the way to the nation’s capital where, for nearly ten years he was the Executive Pastry Chef of Acadiana, Ceiba, DC Coast, and TenPenh restaurants. In the Guas family, all gatherings and entertainment centered around food. From a very early age, during visits from his Cuban relatives, the curious boy seemed always to be playing indoors and not outside with the other kids. In this family, it was not always the women taking charge in the kitchen. Guas’ first mentor, his grandfather, inspired and taught him that being in the kitchen did not make him any less of a man. “Abuelo” (grandfather) opened Guas’ eyes to appreciate the cuisine of his Cuban heritage. “When Abuelo was visiting, my lunch changed drastically and my classmates knew from a single whiff of my lunch bag who had packed it that day.” Guas has fond memories of the pressed Cuban sandwiches with extra pickles and mustard. Whenever Abuelo visited, he prepared a new Cuban dish for his family to taste. “If only I had written down the recipes, I would have my first cookbook already,” Guas laments. There was, in fact, a strong feminine influence as well, right in his own backyard, in the form of his grandmother from Amite, Louisiana. “Granny” could often be found in the kitchen “burning” flour and butter in an iron skillet and promising that it was “goin’ to be good eatin’.” She taught Guas to appreciate the fruits of Louisiana’s soil, cooking with seasonal blackberries, strawberries, and even wild berries from the back woods. “It was so much fun picking berries or visiting nearby fruit and vegetable stands with my cousins first thing in the morning,” remembers Guas. Unlike most native Louisianians, who used large amounts of sugar and butter in everything they cooked, Guas’ Granny stewed and puréed the fruits naturally, often blending them with savory herbs to flavor poultry and meats. Sunday morning breakfast was a ritualistic gathering, with buckwheat or cornbread pancakes and puréed fig preserves or fruit syrup, all natural and no sugar added. (But don’t think for a minute that Guas didn’t sneak any of the butter tucked away in the fridge, which was, after all, an acceptable sneak with Granny – because she had made it!) Unwittingly, the young Guas was learning techniques he would eventually incorporate into his future desserts. The base provided by Guas’ family was strong. Add to that a natural talent and a passion for updating timeless desserts, and you have a recipe for success. Guas doesn’t boast a formal culinary degree, but a few specialized cooking classes at a small culinary school in New Orleans taught him the basic, classical preparations, as well as certain cutting-edge techniques he needed to secure a job in a high-profile kitchen. As an associate pastry chef at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans with Executive Chef Jeff Tunks at the helm, Guas churned out thousands of desserts per week to the delight of locals and national critics alike. Tunks took notice of this talented young assistant and began courting him: Tunks was leaving New Orleans to open his own restaurant in Washington, DC, and he needed a pastry chef. Guas packed up his bags and went off to Washington. DC Coast opened in June 1998 to critical acclaim. TenPenh followed two years later in August 2000, to more of the same, and Guas became Executive Pastry Chef, splitting his time between the two restaurants. In September 2003, he drew deeply from his Cuban heritage to create Latin American- and Caribbean-inspired desserts for Ceiba. And two years after that, in September 2005, with the opening of Acadiana, Guas developed sophisticated interpretations of his hometown dessert favorites from beignets to Bananas Foster. During his years with Passion Food Hospitality, Guas’ desserts were recognized and praised by such publications as Food & Wine, Chocolatier, Santé, Cooking Light, Food Arts, Where Washington, Restaurant Digest, Restaurant Business, National Culinary Review, and Nation’s Restaurant News. In September 2003, Bon Appétit featured Guas as one of eight “Dessert Stars” in the country. In 2004, the fourth year he was nominated, Guas was named Pastry Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. He is listed in The International Who’s Who of Chefs, and has appeared regularly on The Today Show, demonstrating his expertise on national television. Of Guas’ sweets, the restaurant critic of The Washington Post writes, “I have yet to find a single dessert I can say no to,” and the critic of Washingtonian magazine states emphatically that Guas’ desserts are “worth saving room for.” Very sweet, indeed.

    Hi, I am avid Guas, with Damngoodsweet Consulting Group here in the Washington D.

    C. area. Here we are talking about spooky cupcakes today, for the Halloween season. So, we have our ingredients here, we are going to start with our butter. So, for the recipe today, I went ahead and cut down the recipe in half, just for the video purpose. We are starting with three ounces of butter, and one cup of our light brown sugar, and place that on a medium high speed. We are going to do something, which is called the creaming. We are going to cream the sugar and the butter together. That takes just a few seconds, once we've creamed that, and its completely incorporated, working with our room temperature butter, we are going to slowly add our eggs one at a time, roughly about an egg and a half. In the full recipe, its three full eggs. I like to use large grade A eggs.

    Once the eggs are fully incorporated or in order to fully incorporate the eggs, you want to stop your machine, and scrape down the sides just to ensure, completely blended product. We turn our mixer back on, and once its nice and smooth we know we can begin with our next procedure, which in this case, we already have all of our sifted dry ingredients. For this formula, or recipe, we've had all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. So, all those ingredients have been sifted ahead of time, and we have our buttermilk. Now, its important to alternate your dry ingredients with your buttermilk in this cake batter. So, we lower our speed slightly in our machine and well sprinkle in about a third of our dry ingredients. Well wait till that sort of comes together and then well add half of our buttermilk. So, for the recipe today, we've added three quarters of a cup of buttermilk. Again, sifting or adding in our sifted, another third of our sifted ingredients. Wait till it completely comes together, which is now is a good time; well add the remaining buttermilk. Its important that you alternate your ingredients like we said before. Again, waiting till the buttermilk is completely incorporated to add the remaining dry ingredients. At this point, well go ahead and add the rest of our dry ingredients, and wait till this comes together. It wouldnt be a bad idea at this point again, to stop our machine and then go ahead again and scrape down our sides. This ensures that all the ingredients have completely been incorporated and you are not left with any kind of dry ingredients or maybe some butter-sugar mixture that has been left at the base of the bowl. Just another second or so, you dont want to beat it, or over mix it, but its okay to mix it until its completely incorporated. So, this is a good point to stop, removing our paddle and our bowl. Now, at this point, we are going to go ahead and portion into our muffin tins, which we've lined with a baking paper or cupcake paper. You want to fill them about half a way, as they are going to rise. I like to use ice-cream scoops, or dishers, they control the portioning and allow a nice, consistent cake batter to be portioned. If you dont have one of these, its okay; you can just go ahead and use a regular spoon. Just focus on the amount that you are adding. Its important to make sure that all the cupcakes tins are filled to the same level, to ensure a nice, even baking process. Allow them to bake for at least 12-15 minutes. At this point, once all of your tins are filled, I pat it down a little bit to ensure that some of the air-bubbles have been removed from the batter. So, we dont have big pockets after its been baked. We are going to go ahead and go into the preset 350 degree oven at this point.