Category Archives: Cupcakes

Writing About It: Baking, Break ups, and all of the things.

I’ve been a bad blogger.

This is not new. I’m bad at a lot of things, but I do them anyway. Except for math. I don’t do math.

I haven’t been blogging because this blog has historically been a way for me to get out some frustrations while baking delicious food. However, the last few months have been mostly frustration free. I didn’t have any disastrous dates or long, lonely weekends, or nights spent eating pounds of Chinese food with my dog. Instead, they were full of new plans and hope and all of the great things that go along with a new, promising relationship. I was happy and excited, and then, just as suddenly as it began, it ended.

I didn’t see it coming, and I still don’t really know what happened. I could sit here and analyze it to pieces, but when it comes down to it, it wasn’t right, and there’s nothing I can do about it. You’d think that break ups would get easier as you get older, and in some ways they do. When I was younger – in high school – I remember how devastating a break up was. I was lacking the experience to put it in perspective, and the boy I liked not liking me back seemed like the end of the world. As I got older, I gained some perspective, and a break ups were a little easier to handle. I knew it would suck for a while but that it was just something everyone went through, and I’d find the right person eventually.

But now, at 32, it’s starting to feel like the end of the world again. It’s not specific to this most recent relationship — I’d feel this way no matter who it was, I think — it’s specific to this time in my life.  Going from being alone, to not being alone, and then back to being alone, seems like just too much to take. I’ve been dating and breaking up and dating for 16 years now, and I’m tired. I certainly didn’t expect to be single at 32, and the thought of starting over yet again, just is too much. It feels like long division. Scary and complicated and impossible.

Right now, I’m writing about it because putting some of these scattered and crazy thoughts on the internet for everyone to see for some stupid reason feels like it might help. And then, later, I’ll bake about it. After that, I’ll eat about it. I will definitely drink about it, and at some point when I don’t even realize what’s happening, I’ll forget about it.

I’ve had too many feelings to bake lately (don’t worry, this week/weekend will be full of deliciousness), but in the meantime, I’ve compiled a few of my favorites for you below.

Talking and laughing about it with Stella Louise:

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Weird Advice and Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes

During my sophomore year of college, I decided to change my major from Communications to Writing. I met with my adviser to discuss the change, and the conversation didn’t exactly go as planned. My adviser, while brilliant and kind, was also a little off beat and spoke with a very thick accent.

After telling him that I’d like to pursue a major in writing, he got a very concerned look on his face and said very gently,

“Ellen. I am worried. I am worried for you that you will never get married.”

Obviously, this prompted a very confused look from me. I was also worried about this, but not sure what it had to do with my major. He continued,

“Finding work as a writer is very hard. You will not make much money. I am worried that you will not have husband and then you will not be able to find job writing and you will have to be a cook.”

huh?!

“I suggest you study English Education. Teacher is more practical career.”

At the time, I was appalled.  I got back to my dorm room and called my mom crying and babbling about being single and broke for the rest of my life.  It sounds bad, I know, but my adviser really did mean well. I’m fairly certain all he meant was that if I planned on supporting myself by being a writer, I should be aware that it would be very hard to make any money. Good point. However, the delivery obviously needed a little work. I ended up meeting with the head of the English department later that week who told me that if I had no desire to be a teacher than I really shouldn’t be one and that I should continue with my plans to switch my major to Writing. He didn’t make any promises about my matrimonial future, but I did feel a lot better after that meeting.

What’s even funnier (I think) is that I ended up taking a Creative Writing class from that same adviser a semester or so later and somehow or other our conversation about how I was never getting married came up in class (we talked about a lot of weird things in that class.) He had no recollection of course of telling me this and was dutifully horrified. He then told me that if any of his sons were not already married, he would be more than happy to have me marry any of them.

Well, it’s been a little over 10 years, and it turns out that he was partly right. I am not married, and I do have to support myself. However, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it, and parents and children across the US can all rest easy that I am thankfully not a teacher.

I’m never going to write the next great American novel, and I might never get married. Neither of these means my world is ending. What I can do is continue with my awesome job, write about my ridiculous feelings, and bake delicious treats. Take that, college adviser.

Chocolate Cupcakes with a Graham Cracker Crust and RumChata Frosting:

Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart and b.u.i.cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. special dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 c. whole milk (2% will also work)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

Start with the crust:

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 c. of the white sugar and melted butter in a medium sized bowl. Stir until combined.

Place 1 Tbsp of the graham cracker mixture in each muffin cup. Use the bottom of your 1/4 measuring cup to press down the crust in each cup. Reserve some of the crumbs to sprinkle on top of your cupcakes once finished.

Place 2 tsp of the chopped chocolate in each cup on top of the crust. Bake in oven for about 5 minutes until golden brown.

For the batter:

Mix remaining sugar (2 cups plus 2 Tbsp), flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of your electric mixture. Use your paddle attachment and mix the dry ingredients together on a very low speed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Add all at once to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and continue to beat on medium for 2 more minutes. Add the boiling water and stir it in.  The batter will be pretty thin.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Sprinkle each one with the rest of the chocolate. Bake 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

RumChata Frosting:

1 c. unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3-4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. almond extract
4 Tbsp. RumChata

Cream butter at medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Add Almond extract, salt, and 2 Tbsp of the RumChata.  Mix on high for 3 minutes, adding some more sugar and RumChata depending on your tastes.

Frost cupcakes and top with remaining graham cracker crumbs.

 

 

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Cure for a Bad Day: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

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Sometimes, when I have a long day at work, all I want to do is sit on the couch and not think. Other times, I’m still so amped up when I get home that I have to do something.  Last Wednesday was one of those days when I had a curious case of exhaustion mixed with adrenaline and couldn’t sit still. So, I made cupcakes.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes. When it comes to things I’d like to bake, cupcakes are not at the top of my list. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s just in my nature to dislike trendy things, or because I don’t really like to eat cake that much, or because my last couple attempts at making cupcakes haven’t gone so well. But these cupcakes — these are cupcakes I can stand for.

They’re pretty much the opposite of healthy. They’re rich, dense, and filled with peanut butter. Seriously, they’re filled with peanut butter. And the frosting — it’s smooth and creamy and although it is really sweet, it doesn’t have that cloying sweetness that frostings often have.

I’m definitely going to make these again, and although I have plans for various alterations, I made hardly any changes to this recipe from Annie’s Eats, and they turned out pretty much perfect:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeye Cupcakes
Adapted (barely) from Annie’s Eats Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Filling:
1 to 1 and 1/4 cup confenctioner’s sugar (I started with 1 cup, but ended up adding about 1/4 cup as my mixture wasn’t thick enough with just 1 cup.)
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cake:
1 and 2/3 cups flour
3/4 cup dutch processed or dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups sugar 2 eggs

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 and 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your cupcake pans by lining them with cupcake liners.

Filling: combine the confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, butter and vanilla in the bowl of your mixture.  Beat on medium speed until well combined. Roll the mixture (I found it easier to wet my fingers with a little water while I did this) into 1 inch balls (about 24) and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cake: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Use a whisk to combine, and then set aside.  In a liquid measuring cup (or a small to medium bowl), stir together sour cream, milk and vanilla. Set aside.  In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed for 2ish minutes until combined, light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Turn the mixer down to low speed, and alternately add the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined, don’t over mix.

Put together: Spoon about a tablespoon full of the batter into each cupcake liner. (I started with 12 since I wasn’t sure if the batter would really make 24 cupcakes.) Then place a peanut butter ball into each cupcake.  Then go back and top with another spoon full of batter.  The recipe makes about about 18-24 cupcakes

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely.

Frosting:  In the bowl of your mixture, combine the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until smooth. (It’s pretty important that all of these things be at room temperature of softened)  Slowly mix in the confectioner’s sugar. I used a little more than the original recipe because I like a thicker frosting, but if you use too much it will change the flavor of the frosting. Then mix in the whipped topping until smooth.  Frost the cooled cupakes and enjoy!

* I topped my cupcakes with chocolate sprinkles and Reeses minis, but these are just as delicious without those.

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