Welcome to the time of year where you are not only allowed, but encouraged, to pack your gut that you worked so hard to flatten for the summer, with butter, sugar, and booze. There’s a time-limit to this moment, though. It ends the moment you wake up on January 1st (for most people, anyway).
That’s right, I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions. Dun dun DUNNNN!
I took the liberty of looking up the most popular “commitments” people make at the beginning of each year.
Of course, the most faddish resolution is to “get in shape” and lose those elusive 15 pounds that seemed to creep out of nowhere and attached themselves to your innocent thighs. I’ve tried this resolution, and if I remember correctly, I ended up gaining weight because all I could think about was food that brings those pounds out of their hidden cave. Then I stuffed my face. That, and the fact that I write a baking blog. Um, duh.
Another popular resolution? Eat healthier. See above.
A third? Drink less alcohol. I think I always say this on the 1st. I blame the 31st.
One of the lists I read included “learn something new.” What? That’s ridiculous. If you’re not learning at least ONE thing every single day, you’re not awake. You’re probably dead. And I think I speak for the rest of the world when I say that we’re not quite ready for the zombie apocalypse yet. So wake up, and learn something, you scary, scary robot.
Am I talking about robots or zombies? Wait…what?
What I’m getting at, is that these resolutions are so impersonal. I’ve made a short list of things I will commit to for 2013. Want to see? If you don’t…boo on you. Because I want to hear about yours.
1. Take more pictures. I feel like a lot of people say this. This doesn’t mean pictures of me and my friends, although I love those. I mean taking pictures of things I find beautiful around me — meaningful things that catch my attention. Trees do that for me. Call me weird, I don’t mind. This might even mean investing in a camera! Ooh, hello, idea lightbulb.
2. Get a piece of art for my apartment. My walls are bare. It’s kind of sad.
3. Take a trip with my roommate. We decided we wanted to go on a cruise. I fully support this idea, and I have every intention of executing it.
4. Drink a little less coffee. I’m not going to cut it out, but maybe ration myself to two cups a day. Or leave one shot of espresso out of my Americano. I should probably be more decisive on this.
5. Be more decisive about the coffee situation.
6. Bake more. I bake a lot, obviously, but I have a zillion ideas in my head that I need to make reality, like, NOW.
7. Tell you about these chocolate cupcakes.
Okay, the 7th item on the list is happening in 2012, but hey, nothing wrong with being ahead of the game, right?
These cupcakes would make Count Chocula blush. It’s serious business. I took my chocolate cake recipe, tweaked it a little, made my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe, tweaked that a little, and the next thing I know I have these chocolate cupcakes that are so rich, they make Donald Trump look like an orphan.
What did I do differently? More of the onyx cocoa powder, and more sugar. I intentionally made the buttercream slightly salty. It cuts the sweetness a little. Maybe next time I’ll add caramel.
Wait, did I just accidentally make a potential salted-caramel cupcake (also known as one of my all-time favorites)?!?
Ohhhh 2013 is going to be good.
Salty-Sweet Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp onyx cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. Sift cocoa powders, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat eggs and vanilla until slightly fluffy, about 45 seconds.
4. Add dry mix, beat for 30 seconds.
5. Add oil and beat until combined.
6. Add cream in two portions, waiting until the first addition is blended in.
7. Add warm water and beat until smooth.
8. Fill liners 1/2 full and bake for 20 minutes.
Salted Chocolate Buttercream:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp onyx cocoa powder
1 packet instant hot chocolate powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1. Beat butter and cocoa powders, and hot chocolate mix on high until thick.
2. Add salt and vanilla. Beat until combined, and then beat on medium for an additional 30 seconds.
3. Add powdered sugar and heavy cream alternatively in 3 additions, starting with the heavy cream, beating well between each addition.