when my office decided to do a white elephant gift exchange during christmas, i offered to bake some cupcakes. they asked for vanilla cupcakes filled with nutella and buttercream frosting on top (my specialty!). more on the nutella later.
one of my male co-workers asked me “what do you make the frosting with?”
puzzled by the question i asked, “what do you mean?”
“is it real?” he replied.
ha-ha! at that point, i was unsure if we were still talking about frosting.
“um, i make it with butter. does that count?” … “oh, totally. i thought it was store-bought you know.”
in my head: oh no, no. no. no. no. no. no.
“if i could make the butter myself, i would,” i said.
it was a windy, cold and snowy (insert -15F here) commute back home. but first. pit stop at grocery store #1 (it’s common to stop at several in fargo). got most of the ingredients. it felt awesome. went back outside, fighting the wind and cold with my grocery bags, making sure i didn’t fall because it’s so slippery that i sometimes wonder why don’t we wear ice skates instead of shoes?
get to store #2 and the only missing ingredient was sold out there, too. um, what am i going to do without nutella? it’s not like i can buy a substitute. right? you know how you can make buttermilk out of milk and lemon or vinegar? i wish there was such a thing for nutella! maybe not.
it’s okay. my co-workers won’t be mad at me, i think?!? after all, i offered to bake.
at home, i look in the cover and see a green and red sprinkles container that i have barely used. how convenient, i thought. they are the universal christmas colors. i covered the top of the cupcakes with the sprinkles before baking them to reassemble a christmas cookie. that is me improvising, as one of the best foods on planet earth was sold out.
i made the “real frosting” and sprinkled that too. ’tis the season. i sang to myself. ’tis the season. haha. don’t judge.
when you are missing a vital ingredient it’s okay to go ahead and substitute. it will feel that you have cheated on that key ingredient you love, but it will make sure you get your baking done.