Crate and Barrel just delivered my new dresser, and I guess I was 90 years older and belligerent when ordering, because I was under the impression that assembly was included. "All the guys said you were into this sort of thing! That's the only reason I asked you out."
I just regret paying for their milkshake.
I don't regret making these cupcakes, though their creation coincided with the week where I got my nutritional business in check and stepped back from things that I enjoy. It may be that Portland is finally in summer bloom, discounting today and yesterday and probably most of next week, or maybe that 'So You Think You Can Dance' is back on and this is my personal 'Biggest Loser'. Watching 19 year old girls dance to Janet Jackson Megamixes makes me want to be a 19 year old girl, wearing the bottom half of a swimsuit outlawed in many holy communities, a pair of Uggs, knee-socks, a cropped hooded sweatshirt and writhing to FrouFrou in front of a 60 year old British man with "Princess Diana: The Landmine Years" hair.
My money is on Lacy Schwimmer, by the way. And that Ricky, who Mia wants to run a kibbutz with, devoted to organic farming and modern dance.
So it is all hydration and whole grains, lean meats and skimmed dairy, vegetables, almonds. I love almonds but I hate them, so much, right now. You'd better be saving my life because right now I'm as fed up with you as those Hanes commercials with Kevin Bacon and Jennifer Love Hewitt, who usually don't provoke such fury in my brain. You're making my moment unpleasant, because I can't figure out why I'm having such a strong reaction to you. Kevin Bacon. And almonds.
And cupcakes. These were originally meant to be shared with people, but then they weren't brought along and then they were a day old and as much as I love this particular recipe (just a nice, standard chocolate cupcake) it doesn't hold up as tastily for more than 36 hours. Eat them, so I don't have to.
Adapted from 'Cooks Illustrated'
1 stick (8 Tbs) butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup AP flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
Spray or line one 12-cup cupcake pan, and preheat your oven to 350 F.
Sift together the dry ingredients -- flour, baking powder and baking soda.
In a large bowl (I use a pyrex bowl) over a pan with 2-3 inches of simmering water in the bottom, melt the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder until smooth and liquid. Remove and cool for five minutes.
Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and salt until light-yellow and slightly foamy. Pour into chocolate mixture, and immediately whisk or stir until combined. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, follow with 1/2 the sour cream, then another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the sour cream, and finally the rest of the flour mixture. Stir well, just until combined, thick and the batter pulls at the spoon just a bit.
Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide batter between each cup. Bake for 18-20 minutes, checking after 15 -- cupcakes should have a slight, pleasing crackle on top and a toothpick should come out clean or with fudge-y crumbs attached, no raw batter though. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
2 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 a cup) butter, softened slightly
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed and drained) raspberries
Cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, mixing until smooth and whippy -- taste along the way, adding powdered sugar to taste until you have reached your sweetness and texture preferences. You want to err on the side of stiff, though, because the moisture from the raspberries will thin the frosting considerably.
Turn your mixer, hand or stand, to low and add the raspberries. Cream for fifteen to twenty seconds more, allowing the raspberries to break and bleed and stain the frosting that lovely color.
Frost cooled cupcakes generously, and don't worry if frosting seems too soft -- it will set. If frosting is too liquid, beat in up to another cup of powdered sugar.
Take somewhere safe. Like a basement, or attic, some safehouse somewhere.