Once upon a time (ye olde 1990’s), in a land far, far away (Boston), there lived a Girl.
This Girl was in school, getting into life, rocking floral prairie dresses and combat boots to class (whatever – it was a phase).
At the same time, in the same place, there lived a Boy.
This Boy was also in school, getting into life, rocking a mullet to class (whatever – it was a phase.).
The first day of class rolled around and Girl showed up in style, red prairie dress flowing, combat boots polished. Boy was already seated in the back row, mulleted locks glistening.
What was this? The desk next to Boy was available. Girl took it. Cue the shy conversation and sidelong glances.
Class ended and Girl worked up the courage to invite Boy to her next 90210 viewing party. Just keeping it cool, classy and sophisticated-like.
Girl scurried off to plan a 90210 viewing party.
The night of the party arrived, and so did Boy, proffering a brand new bottle of mezcal.
And guess what? This bottle had TWO worms in it. Two worms for two silly people. It must be fate.
Girl needed to bring this one home. She was smitten. She suspected Boy was too.
What to do?
She had it! Girl challenged Boy to a Mezcal Sipping Contest. Just keeping it cool, classy and sophisticated-like.
Never mind that Boy was a hockey-playing fraternity brother who had over 100 pounds on her. Never you mind!
It’s really just simple math:
(1 dumb Girl with mezcal breath + 1 particularly fetching prairie dress)2 agave worms = 1 impressed Boy
Several hours, several sips and two agave worms later, Girl was admiring all of the pretty stars underneath the coffee table. Just -say it with me- keeping it cool, classy, and sophisticated-like.
And let’s just keep this Elegance Train chugging away, shall we? Let’s continue to argue with Boy that you clearly won the Mezcal Sipping Contest, even as your pity-taking roommate gently tucks you in to bed. Clearly. Naturally. Elegant.
Flash forward to the next morning. Girl is experiencing a particularly lovely blend of worm breath and self loathing. Was she really that stupid? Duh. Yes.
But, ho! What’s this knock at the door? It’s Boy! Holding a bottle of Advil and an invitation to lunch!
It must be love. And it was.
Many more years and much less mezcal later, Boy & Girl are living happily ever after.
They may or may not have shared a little mezcal last night, the night of their 13th anniversary. But one thing’s for sure. They’re still just doing their best to keep it classy, cool and sophisticated-like at all times.
A note on mezcal & these cupcakes: Mezcal, or mescal, is a distilled spirit made from the heart of the maguey plant. While maguey is a type of agave plant, mezcal is not the same thing as tequila; in fact, tequila is a type of mezcal that is made only from the blue agave plant. Most mezcals are produced in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and Oaxacan mezcals are often bottled and sold con gusano, or with an agave worm. These worms are the larval form of a moth that lives on maguey plants, and are meant to be eaten with the mezcal.
While I did include mezcal in these cupcakes, I could not bring myself to include actual agave worms, hence the gummy worms. A good quality mezcal (I was able to purchase this bottle for $20) has a lovely, smoky flavor with notes of citrus and earthy spice. The flavor and aroma of the drink does come through in these cupcakes, but it is not overpowering. You can absolutely substitute tequila for the mezcal, or, if you would like to omit the alcohol all together, simply use orange juice or double the buttermilk. Either way this is a fun, simple cupcake recipe that goes very well with the peanut butter frosting. Enjoy!
Mezcal Cupcakes Con Gusano & Peanut Butter Frosting
For the cupcakes:
3/4 c. dark brown sugar, tightly packed
3/4 c. white sugar, granulated
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
3 large eggs
3/4 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. mezcal (see note above for substitution suggestions)
2 1/2 c. self-rising flour
For the frosting:
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 c. smooth peanut butter
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. heavy cream
gummy worms for finishing
Preheat oven to 350°.
Line standard-sized cupcake molds with paper liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugars together. Add the eggs, which should unify and smooth out the mixture. Beat in the mezcal, buttermilk and flour, mixing until you have a uniform batter. Fill each mold approximately three quarters full and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Set baked cakes aside to cool.
Meanwhile, beat confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, softened butter and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Once all of these ingredients are well-blended, add the cream and continue beating until smooth.
Generously frost the top of each cupcake and finish with gummy worms.
YIELD: 22 cupcakes