Labor of Love and Sentimental Valentine's Day Cupcake

The first time Cole and I went into NYC together, we had an action packed day.  I made Cole try a Crumbs cupcake, which we devoured outside the New York Public Library at Bryant Park. We stopped by the law firm I used to work at and said hello to my former boss, who I was so glad Cole got to finally meet.  I bought a Flip video camera.  We went to the MoMA.  We stopped by Rockafella Center.  We met up with a group of my friends for a drink.  We even tried to go to the top of the Empire State Building, but there was "Zero Visibility". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIj3kSTIwMg

We also went out to a fancy French restaurant, La Grenouille, which I always wanted to try but never got the chance while I lived in NY.  It was so fancy and we were clearly out of place there, but I think the waiters kind of appreciated how much we appreciated it, rather than being super rude to us like I would expect of the French.

Anyway, the dessert Cole ordered that night at La Grenouille was Les Oeufs à la Neige or "Floating Island" which is kind of an old-fashioned dessert and tasted like clouds of marshmallows.  It was topped with a nest of spun sugar and looked like ART.  I sneakily caught it on film:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F90-LhGl7k

I had been thinking that I wanted to try and re-create this dessert for Valentine's Day after I saw a page in Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book about Spun-Sugar Crowned Cupcakes.

When I asked Cole what he wanted me to make for Valentine's day, he said brownies.

Suddenly, I had an idea.  Brownies as cupcakes.  (Vale actually suggested that part.)  I would incorporate the "essence" of the floating island, the way I remember them tasting, in a marshmellow frosting and top them off with a nest of spun sugar.

The brownie cupcakes were made using my favorite brownie recipe in Tartine.  How could these not be good when you put in 1 POUND of Scharfenburger chocolate?

The marshmellow frosting from Martha's S'mores Cupcake recipe.

The spun sugar recipe was from Martha's Cupcake book as well.  These made a hot mess, but I absolutely love working with candy thermometers.  The stages of heating sugar fascinate me.

With the marshmallow cloud resting on the rich chocolate brownie and a spun-sugar "halo"... these cupcakes might just be a Little Bit of Heaven.  (Thanks to one of Cole's baseball players dad's, JR, for the name suggestion.  Go Pirates!)