Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cupcakes for Grown-ups

A story my Mom and older sister like to tell other people from time to time is back from when I was little. It's the one about the red robin. We lived in a big house with large windows, and one day, a red robin flew, head first, into one of those glass panes. I'm pretty sure it died on impact, and it's tiny body fell to the pavement below. Mom got out the biggest shovel we had and scooped the dead bird into the outside bin, thinking not much of it. Until I asked her: 'when I die, will you put me in the bin, too?'

I was a deep, deep, kid. Or a weird, weird kid, depending on how you see it. It wasn't because I was afraid to die, I think. I was just wondering what would happen.

Another story is the one where I, not much older than 6 or 7, crawled up onto my Mom's lap and burst into tears. My Mom sat there for a second or two, wondering what might have happened, before she asked me what was wrong. 'I don't want to grow old. I don't wanna be an adult!' I hiccuped through tears.

I don't remember the stories as such, but I remember the feeling. Of not wanting to grow up.

Throughout my teenage years and my twenties, I used to joke that you weren't a real grown-up until you had your own home. Then it wasn't until you had a car. I eventually got both of those things, so the natural progression was: you're not an adult until you have kids. When my friends, even the close ones, started having them, I kept the mantra going: YOU may be a grown-up, but me? Noooo.

Now look at the mess I've gotten myself into.

I guess I just have to grow up then, don't I?

For the record: I'm due late October. The ultrasound says it's a boy and if you can judge anything from the kicking and frolicking and jumping and pushing and general energy-level going on in there, they sure could be right! No, I can't really blame pregnancy for the lack of posts here. Yes, there has been, is and most certainly will be a lot more of that thing called life getting in the way of blogging, but borrowing the words of a wise woman I happen to know: I just can't bring myself to put an end to Food & Thoughts either. Scattered and sporadic posting is what I'm all about. Hope you'll still feel like keeping up.

Cupcakes for Grown-Ups - or, as they're called in The Essence of Chocolate: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes.

I should at least have something to make up for the whole going adult thing, shouldn't I? In the book it says that these would be ideal for a child's birthday - I think that would very much depend on the kid. These aren't sugary, fluffy cupcakes with a tooth-achingly and gritty sweet topping - these are not-to-dense, almost chocolate-y bitter cupcakes with a lush, heavy frosting. A bit more suited for the grown-up palate, but maybe that's just my opinion.

For the cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
10 tablespoons unslated butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup whole milk

For the frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the cupcakes:
Turn your oven to 350 F and position a rack in the middle. Line 12 muffin cups (3/4 cup capacity) with liners.
In a small bowl, stir together flour and cocoa. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, combine butter, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt - beat on medium speed for 5 minutes or until pale, light and fluffy. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as necessary.
Add the egg, beat until incorporated. Alternately add flour/cocoa mixture and milk, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Fill muffin tins to about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 mminutes.
Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack, then turn out and allow to cool completely on the rack.

Meanwhile, make the frosting:
Heat the cream in a small saucepan - it should just begin to simmer. Add the chocolate, whisking until it has melted completely, the take of the heat and transfer to a small bowl. Let cool for about two hours or until the ganache is thick enough to constitute a frosting. You can speed up this last part by putting the ganache in the fridge, then stirring it every five minutes or so.

Once the frosting is thick enough and your cupcakes cool, invert the cupcakes into the ganache-frosting, using a twisting motion of the wrist to load as much frosting as possible onto the cupcake. Be careful - they are delicate little creatures, and break easily into the ganache (but then I guess there's something for the baker as well ;))