I've dreamed of throwing a dinner party where all the food on the plate would be purple. Admittedly there was a very limited list of ingredients: red cabbage, Spanish onion, taro, purple sweet potatoes, that mutant-like cauliflower they developed a while back, boysenberry. A bit more thought and I realised a dinner party needs something more than just a salad.
It's probably my attraction to purple overall that led me to buying a pack of powdered purple yam, or ube. It sat undisturbed in the pantry for months, not knowing its purpose in life. I have a similar affliction, until one day I decide that I can procrastinate no longer and it's going to be cupcakes.
Now I shan't bore with basic cupcakery, only to say that I rarely experiment successfully. The purple yam packet instructs me to add loads of water and to simmer the powder to reconstitute it and then add to cake mixtures. A short internal debate takes place: I would have thought to just add the powder into the cake batter.
The yam powder spirits my thoughts to the planet Mars and all things astronautical. A reddish purple, it has no sugar additions nor any particular aroma. Going against my own judgment I reconstitute and simmer away to a bubbling witch's brew of thick purple goo - my theatrical idea of what quicksand would look like.
I'll have to admit to trepidatious spoonful additions of the yam mixture to my lovely fluffy batter. The purple goo looks uncomfortably out of place, but I've never been too afraid of the other-worldly.
I mix and fold until my additions are combined to a stretchily sticky red-dotted mixture. Whether this is the starchiness of the purple yam or the effect of adding warm/hot ingredients to batter, I'm still none too sure.
It's defiantly and definitely red. Ish. This shatters my dreams of fluffy and soft purple cakes. It's a hue that even royalty can't help, and eventually I settle on what I see as purple-grey but others see as "Er... it's... eww... Grey."
I'm fairly sure I don't want to keep the leftover yam mixture for another use or batch, so I top and swirl the yam into the batter in muffin cases; its vivid red-purple hue now reminding me of graffiti; vandalism of the plainly perfect cupcake mixture.
The swirls actually look deceptively chocolate-y brown; a misconception no-one is happy to find the truth in. The purple yam powder has contributed nothing flavour-wise and made the texture something like a Chinese fighting muffin. They're met with looks of concern and eaten with a grimace. I don't think these will make the purple dinner party menu.