50 Ways to Make a Cupcake

The May issue of Food Network magazine. Bless you.

50 Variations on Cupcakes: Base Batters and Frostings

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Cupcakes ready for delivery! The base is the same for both – the malted chocolate one. First time a recipe actually made the exact number of cupcakes that it said it would.

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Malted milk chocolate. The frosting tastes like a giant Whopper.

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Cookies n’ Cream. Vanilla frosting with ground-up Double Stuf Oreos whipped in.

Ingredients for a Chill Sesh

It’s funny that we all do the same thing. We get busy and stressed, feeling isolated as life and our silly first world problems take over, and wishing that someone would reach out – but completely forgetting that the others are all feeling the same way.

Yesterday morning was the punctuation of that feeling, as I stood atop the regional landfill, swarmed by 100s of seagulls and silently cursing other people’s issues with cleanliness.

But, it just made the evening plans even more enjoyable and necessary. As Ben was away on a daddy-and-daughter trip, us gals reached out to get together and organize a home spa and treats night.

One brought all the fixings to make homemade face wash, body butter and masks. Another brought the wine, essential to any good spa activity, in my books. And I was in charge of noms.

Of course, if you’ve been reading this little blog at all, you know that I served carrot sticks and hummus.

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Donuts. Not these silly baked ones that make your brain pretend that it’s being healthy – cake mix spiked with nutmeg and sadness. The kind my momma made in the 80s, when I sat at a healthy distance from the bubbling vat on the stove, watching the fluffiest pastries emerge from the pot.

untitled-1137But I did do mini-ones, to offer the appearance of health. Some tossed in sugar and cinnamon immediately after removing from the stove.

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untitled-1170The truly unfortunate thing is that it was really easy to make. Too easy.

And then I did a few others snacks.

Popcorn cooked up in brown butter and seasoned with sugar, cinnamon, cumin and chili, tasting like something delicious but nothing specific so you had to keep having more to get a sense of what the heck you were eating.

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A dip that tastes just like raw brownie batter, minus the egg threat, and served up with kettle chips and pretzels.

untitled-1188And despite our best efforts, there are leftovers – food, pumpkin pie glow mask, orange chocolate body butter, tea tree oil face wash. Perfect tools to tackle the next week!

Spring Fever: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Perhaps it was heaps of pent-up energy from the winter.

Or some negative chi or things on my mind that I needed to get out of my system.

But I was a woman possessed today.

The cooking alone would have been plenty. A marathon dog walking session and some shovelling fuelled by anger at spring taking too long to melt the snow off the deck was just crazy.

At least it makes up for the food.

I mean, this cake doesn’t even exist anymore. Gone.

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I don’t know where one of the kids got the idea for pineapple upside-down cake. I think a friend has better cable TV than us and they watched someone make this. The only time I’ve ever made it and eaten it was about 20 years ago with Poppins.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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The taste (obviously, given my gluttony) was delicious – super bright with pineapple and then this moist coffee cake underneath. I had to babysit the entire cooking process, as the heaps of butter and brown sugar oozed and burned in the oven. In fairness, that was probably my fault for cake pan selection. I’ll totally make it again.

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Funny enough, none of the kids, including the one who requested it, liked it.

Us grown-ups? We demolished it.

Thank heavens I did all that walking and shovelling.

Holla!

I love books. One of my favourite past times is to explore a bookstore, pouring over fine print on glossy jackets before settling on one (or ten) choices. But I find that ever since I really got into grad school, and now with my new job being very similar to academic work – the last thing I want to do after a day of learning, hunched over a desk reading lines of a manuscript or journal articles, is to sit and read more.

Don’t get me wrong. My job is great. Learning is a sport. But, balance, you know? So in the off-hours, I set aside books to hike and explore and take pictures and bake foolish things full of sugar.

I want to do. So, on this gorgeous spring day, I’m heading out to take the dog on an interminable walk.

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But first, breakfast. Brown sugar challah bread (courtesy of my new favourite food + photography blog, My Name is Yeh.) Only tweak was a brown sugar glaze and sea salt sprinkles (pomegrantes ain’t so plentiful in Atlantic Canada).

I won’t tell you how many pieces I ate. Or how long I didn’t wait for it to cool completely.

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Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

One of my work colleagues just successfully defended her PhD dissertation last week, so the office organized a little celebratory coffee break for her on Monday. My contribution: salted caramel and chocolate mini cupcakes.

IMG_0463I found this awesome, fudgy, caramel frosting recipe here: Sally’s Baking Addiction Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting. The only change I made was to add more cream to get the consistency I wanted. (The drizzle is the caramel from the first steps of that same recipe.)

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This used my trusty chocolate cake recipe from this post. I bought a couple mini muffin tins, something that I’ve wanted for awhile. They’re great for making snacks for a break or potluck, because everyone in the world, except me and my close friends, will take a knife to a cupcake and halve it or – worse – quarter it. No one had to feel guilty here, though.

They’re like muffin vitamins, in the words of Jim Gaffigan.