So, I don’t wanna brag [that’s a lie], but I’m a pretty good cook.  I’m not sophisticated – my idea of a perfect meal tends to be along the lines of a roast chicken, some potatoes, and a huge pile of roast asparagus, or a mound of pasta with a creamy, meaty tomato sauce.

And something what I am awesome at, if I do say so myself, is baking.  Again, not exceptional, which I leave to the Sara-Janes of the world, but pretty fucking good.  My mother is a truly gifted baker, which I’m sure will embarrass her to read [she’s very modest].  Some of my fondest memories are waking up on Sunday morning to see she’d baked bread for church [you Episcopalians in the audience know what I’m talking about] and set aside some tiny rolls for us, or helping to measure out flour for the best brownies ever.

The most requested birthday cake in our family is, hands down, the Madam X chocolate cake.  Anyone who has come to any of my birthday parties for the last … ever, has had the good fortune of trying this simply outstanding cake.

All of this build-up is to say that I made some goddamn delicious cupcakes last night.  Check it:  My coworker is suuuuuuper pregnant and we’re throwing her a shower.  I volunteered to make cake because, obviously, and another coworker immediately said, “MAKE THAT CAKE YOU BROUGHT IN FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY.”  So I was like, “No doubt.”  Then I decided, hey, why not cupcakes.  Because, why not cupcakes?!

Cut to last night: I stopped by the grocery store on my way home from work to stock up on cupcake wrappers and sprinkles and like, sugar and stuff. When I got back out to my car, there was a woman standing next to it, talking to someone who was idling in the middle of the lane, blocking my car in.  I grumbled to myself, and put my groceries in the car before resolving to ask the driver to move their car instead of my usual MO, which would be to glare at them silently until they noticed my rage and move.  It’s super effective! [Not.]

As I got closer, it became apparent that there was some sort of emergency going on.  I asked the woman who was standing near my car if everything was alright.

Nope, definitely not; the poor thing had accidentally locked her keys in the car – along with her three year old son.

OH GOD.  I handed over my phone so she could call her husband [while silently vowing to memorize my boyfriend’s phone number in case I’m ever in a similar, phoneless situation] and made faces at the kid, who was freaking out.  Then I called AAA to see if I could get a locksmith out ASAP just in case.

But it was all good – her husband arrived SUPER fast, maybe 5 minutes after she called him, and everything was fine.  I got a high-five from the kid who had calmed down, and everything was okay.  VICTORY.

So after that excitement, the rest of my evening went like this:

  • Get home, cook chicken nuggets, make cake batter.
  • Settle down to watch Adventure Time while eating said nuggets.
  • Idly wonder if recipe should have been changed due to cupcake changeup.
  • Decide to google, just in case.
  • Discover baking time should be cut in half.
  • Realize half of baking time had already elapsed.
  • Race upstairs to check cupcakes.
  • Cupcakes fine, remove from oven.
  • Watch boyfriend play Uncharted 3 while letting cupcakes cool.
  • Get absorbed in story and realize an hour has passed.
  • Make icing and frost cupcakes.
  • Take a bunch of Instagram pictures of frosted cupcakes.
  • Get to bed super late.

Blah blah, get to the recipe, Molly.  FINE, HERE.  GAWD.

Another cupcakes picture because why not.

Madam X’s Chocolate Cake
From Eleanor Goetz’s “Cooking Dinner“, adapted to make 22 cupcakes. Measurements are in US Customary.  Here’s some conversion info, because I’m too lazy to do it for you.

¼ lb. butter (one stick)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 C water
2 C sugar
2 C flour
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 C (8 oz) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line enough muffin trays to make 22 cupcakes.

Melt together the chocolate, butter, and water. [Don’t do what I did initially and melt just the butter and chocolate together and then try to add the water after. It just… doesn’t work out well.]
Sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt into a large mixer bowl.
Add the chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.
One at a time, add the eggs, beating well after each one.
Add the sour cream and vanilla, mix until all sour cream is incorporated.
Put 1/4C of batter in each cupcake wrapper.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to remain in the pan for 15 or 20 minutes when they come out of the oven. Turn them out and serve while still warm or let them cool and frost them. I recommend frosting them…

Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Adapted ever so slightly from Hershey’s.

3 T butter
3oz unsweetened chocolate
3 1/2 C confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C (or less) milk
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in small saucepan; add chocolate and stir constantly over VERY LOW HEAT until melted.
Pour into small mixer bowl.
Add remaining ingredients; beat until well blended.
Chill until of spreading consistency if necessary.
Top each cupcake with 1 1/2 Tbsp frosting.  [I actually have a measuring spoon that is 1 1/2 Tbsp, and it is the perfect amount of frosting for these particular cupcakes.]

Optional: sprinkles! After I divided out the frosting, I swirled it around on each cupcake with my finger to evenly cover.  Then I poured out some sprinkles into a shallow bowl [they bounced EVERYWHERE, I was not prepared for that] and dip the frosted cupcakes into the sprinkles.

Cupcakes for a coworker's baby shower. I didn't expect the sprinkles to bounce when I poured them into the bowl...



2 thoughts on “CUPCAKES, Y’ALL

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