Disclaimer: There will be no spoilers in this post.
Now that we’re clear: Let’s talk Dexter.
It was 2007. Joe and I had moved back to the States from China, ready to consume every bit of Americana and pop culture possible. And then the TV Writers Strike happened. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
CBS, in a stroke of genius, took a newbie Showtime show, cut out all the violence, profanity and nudity (which, I realize now, was about 99% of the show) and gave the peoples a new show when every other channel was pouring through reruns. That show was Dexter. And despite being watered down, Joe and I ate. it. up. And we’ve been watching it ever since.
For those that aren’t familiar with this show, it’s about a serial killer (Michael C. Hall) who kills serial killers. It turned the whole good guy-bad guy scenario on its head and suddenly you found yourself cheering for a killer, feeling giddy as he set up his kill room. Yeah…it’s heavy…the anticipation of murder, when it’s truly for a bad guy. It’s the Dexter Justification. And just think of all the shows now that allow you to fall in line with a vigilante or someone with a broken moral compass? Breaking Bad? Mad Men? Revenge? It’s everywhere now. “Thanks, Dex.”
What amazed me most about this show for 8 seasons is watching Michael C. Hall tackle an incredible role while tackling an equally dramatic personal life. When the show started he was recently divorced and started dating Jennifer Carpenter, who plays his sister Deb on the show. He married her after the first season and was quickly diagnosed with cancer, fought it into remission and then divorced Jennifer a year later. They still had 3 seasons left to go. And you wouldn’t know a thing by watching them play out this story. Just incredible. There are so many scenes where Dexter and Deb have very emotional, tense moments that make you wonder how much of it was acting and what might have been a teeny bit real.
To celebrate the ending of one of our favorite shows, I decided to whip up a half-batch of Barefoot Contessa’s Red Velvet Cupcakes. It just seemed appropriate. Enjoy the recipe and go watch some Dexter. Embrace the bad. I promise it’s never felt so good.
Dexter’s Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute, until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Stir with a rubber spatula to be sure the batter is mixed.
Scoop the batter into the muffin cups with a 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop or large spoon. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool completely in the pans and frost the cupcakes with Red Velvet Frosting.
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (3/4 pound)
Place the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed just until combined. Don’t whip! Add the sugar and mix until smooth.
(Yes, I made the plate look like Dexter’s kill room. “How tacky is that?!” says Ina.)