No, but really. It was an absolutely beautiful day. It was a little bittersweet, thinking of all the friends I have on the East Coast. I hope Sandy goes easy on them. After Jake got off work & picked up Gabe from school, we went to a little park way up on a hill, overlooking the river & surrounded by big, beautiful trees. I pushed the girls on the swings for a good hour & they still weren't sick of it when it was time to leave. I can't help but smile when I watch them each tilt their heads back & look up at the trees, leaves & the sky in wonder. & I could sit & listen to Gabe's imaginative play all day long. He was a pirate on this particular occasion. I probably mutter the words, "These kids are driving me crazy," more times than I care to admit every single day. But I can't tell you guys enough how amazing my kids are, how much they inspire me or the overwhelming joy I get just by watching them be themselves. It's just too much sometimes. This afternoon was, figuratively & literally, a breath of fresh air after my busy morning.
|I'm an adult, I promise.|
Practically Sinful Chocolate Cupcakes
3oz semi-sweet baker's chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup Suisse Mocha mix
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (if you don't have any, make your own by adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 1/2 cups of milk)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit & line cupcake tins with paper liners.
2. Finely chop up the baker's chocolate & place in a small bowl. Pour in the hot coffee & stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted & mixture is smooth.
3. In a large bowl & using a wire whisk, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, Mocha mix, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Set aside.
4. In a larger bowl, beat eggs until slightly thickened & light-yellow in color (if you're using a hand mixer, it'll take about 5 minutes). Slowly add in oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract & chocolate/coffee mixture & beat until well-combined.
5. Slowly beat in sugar mixture until batter is smooth & without big lumps (but don't over-beat!).
6. Fill cupcake liners (I always find that using a 1/4c measuring cup distributes the perfect amount of batter) & bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Cool completely before frosting!
Salted Caramel Buttercream
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups confectioner's sugar
Caramel sauce (recipe below)
1. Cream together butter & salt until light & fluffy.
2. Gradually add in powdered sugar & beat until mixed well (about 2-3 minutes)
3. Add in the caramel sauce & beat until well combined & the fluffiness factor is to your liking! I like super duper fluffy icing that I can pipe a mile high onto my cupcakes. Just sayin'.
IF you don't want to make your own caramel sauce-- do not fret. You can just as easily use any other caramel topping to add into your buttercream! Start with 1/2 cup & see where that gets you. ;)
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rum extract (optional- if you don't have any, just use an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract! I like rum extract because it has a really rich, deep flavor that I love.)
1. In a large, heavy saucepan, swirl together the sugar & water. Heat on medium-high until boiling. DO NOT STIR! Let boil until it turns deep, amber brown. For me, it took about 7-8 minutes. As soon as the color turns that amber color, remove from heat immediately. It burns fast!
2. VERY slowly add in the heavy whipping cream & extracts while stirring with a wooden spoon. When you add in the whipping cream, it will bubble-- so be careful! Stir until smooth.
3. Let cool for about 25-30 minutes or until the caramel is cool to the touch.
Frost those babies any way you'd like. Drizzle some caramel sauce over them & sprinkle a little sea salt on top, too, if it so pleases you. I know it does me.
Until next time! ;)