Ev'rywhere you go..."
Life slides by slowly, lazy days dragging on, time spent waiting for things to happen, the weekend to finally come, a birthday or a new job to materialize. Anxious and impatient, days too long and sleepless nights, the exciting things just never seem to arrive. And then just when we want to savor a special moment, experience an event, live every second to the fullest, all senses alert to the tiniest detail, catch the laughter of a friend, drown in the warmth of a kiss, linger over a delicious conversation, make a weekend simply last forever, time seems to fly by, a carpet pulled out from under our feet and we land with a thud, the moment gone forever. The good times, the exciting moments rush by us, turning to dust in our hands as we try and hold on, we fling our arms desperately around time’s ghostly neck only to have it disappear and we are left with only a hazy memory fading into shadow.
Food Blogger Connect has come and gone, a flash before our eyes, as ephemeral as the light of a firefly, but I am still drowning in the sensations, the thrills of that emotional roller coaster ride. Everyone who attended is still stunned that something so short, that flew by so quickly, could have changed so many lives, upset our routines and affected us so profoundly. We begged the time to stand still, but here we find ourselves a week later back alone in front of our computers, trying to get our lives back on track. Mere spectators of our own lives, we try desperately to return to normal, to that other self that we were before.
I’ve spent my week typing out posts for the Food Blogger Connect blog, working with The Team on the preliminary planning for FBC 10, trying to reorganize my house and find a place to stow away all the beautiful and yummy gifts I came home with from London and simply catch up on what’s happening here. Every evening and every morning as I lie in bed next to JP and talk with him, chatting and laughing, making decisions and putting things into perspective, I find myself chuckling over a memory of something that happened in London, something funny someone said, thinking of ways I shall change my blog or put to work all the things I learned and I burst forth with stories or talk about someone I spent time with or simply find myself reliving that glorious weekend until JP very kindly says “I am so glad that you had such a great time but can we please talk about something else?”
I look out the window and see the changing seasons, Autumn sliding into Winter, the holidays upon us and another year rolling to a close. And I am in the mood to celebrate. Maybe it was the magic of Food Blogger Connect, the Saturday meeting all of those wonderful food bloggers or the weekend spent solidifying friendships already created on-line, but the spirit is upon me, pulling me into her radiant embrace, inspiring me to bake. I find myself drawn to all that is silver and gold, shimmering crystal in shop windows, so romantic; or jolly Santas all in red, elves and reindeer prancing through cotton snow making me laugh out loud. The glittering lights hung up and down the main avenue bring joy to my heart and I wonder aloud how it is that we can’t keep the lights shining every day of the year, bringing a little glitzy Broadway, a little of this holiday gaiety to our otherwise dreary lives.
So while the men are tinkering in the garage, while Clem is building models of architectural projects in the heat of his bedroom (he just received a box of tiny figurines to man his models with!), as the ironing pile grows higher and the sink fills with dirty dishes, thoughts of Mac Attack crowd together in my brain along with Hanukkah and Christmas musings, jostling ideas for dinner and the urge to create sweet treats and I am trying to call them all to attention, line them up like excited grade school children who, trying their absolute gold-star-behavior best to stand straight in line, hands pressed hard against rosy lips, muffling giggles, eyes all aglow, bouncing up and down, from foot to foot, trying to order them one after the other so between now and the holidays I can bring you a flurry of spectacular holiday treats, delightful visions of all that is joy and sparkle, recipes to brighten this wonderful celebratory season.
To start the ball rolling, I looked for something simple, not very holidayish in and of itself, but something rich and chocolatey and gloriously good. I recently treated myself to Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book Baking From My Home to Yours and this simple yet luscious recipe for the most chocolate of chocolate cupcakes with a deep, rich chocolate glaze practically jumped off the page at me. Just a sweet surprise for the family to enjoy while I prepare my shells for this month’s Mac Attack which I host with my sister and friend Deeba of Passionate About Baking.
CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours
For the cupcakes:
1 cup (150 g) flour
¼ cup (30 g) cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
8 Tbs (115 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup (125 ml) buttermilk – I used fromage blanc 0% fat (like quark)
2 oz (60 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted then cooled to room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-cup cupcake tin with cupcake papers. Or butter and flour the cups.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and continue beating for a minute or two until it is light and fluffy.
Add the egg and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Beat in the vanilla.
Lower the mixer speed to low and beat in about half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until just incorporated. Add the buttermilk or fromage frais/blanc and beat until blended, then follow up with the rest of the dry ingredients.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, making sure that all of the dry ingredients have been scraped up from the bottom of the bowl and incorporated in, then add the melted chocolate and blend in using a rubber or silicone spatuala. Make sure the batter is well blended and smooth.
Divide the thick batter evenly among the 12 muffin/cupcake cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cupcakes are puffed, set in the center and springy to the touch.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before carefully lifting each cupcake out of the tin and placing on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Frost the cupcakes with your favorite chocolate frosting or ganache or with Dorie’s dark, bittersweet and very adult CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
For the glaze:
3 oz (90 G) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Lindt dessert 70%)
1 Tbs confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbs (30 g) cold unsalted butter cut into 6 cubes
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl (I use pyrex) and place the bowl over a pan with an inch or two of simmering, not boiling, water. Melt the chocolate, stirring constantly. When the chocolate is melted and smooth, remove the bowl from the hot water and let stand on the counter for 5 minutes.
Using a small whisk or rubber/silicone spatula, stir in the confectioner’s sugar followed by the cubes of cold butter, whisking or stirring until all is melted and smooth.
I found the slightly thin glaze very easy to spread on the cupcakes – you only need a thin coat of the glaze as it is very chocolatey – but if it is too thin for you, simply allow it to stand and cool a bit until the right spreading consistency for you.