Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Thanksgiving Baking – Retaliatory Cupcakes

I was going to write a little post about this year’s Thanksgiving, but it ended up being (no surprise here) somewhat of a CF (my apologies for the vulgarity) so I don’t particularly want to waste space on it.  Funny thing is, I at least got a head’s up that things had taken a very sharp left into Crazytown and so I decided to take a somewhat PA response – I did not bake pie, I baked chocolate cupcakes.

You heard me. No pie.  Is this a big deal?  Well, if you are me, then yes, because I like to bake pie and I particularly like to bake it for Thanksgiving.  Well then, Maeve, isn’t this rather biting off your own nose to spite someone else’s face?  Probably.  Fine, let’s call it the tantrum that it was. 

Here’s the thing.  Anyone who has read more than, say, a month’s worth of posts here at my little sandbox knows that I cook.  And bake.  So, you might figure that the people who have had me in their lives since I was 21 years old would know this as well.  Would realize that I would not consider it an inconvenience to actually COOK Thanksgiving dinner.  Would understand that I would prefer to cook it.  Would see it as a gift to let me cook it for them.  Would also maybe understand that their decision to get TAKEOUT THANKSGIVING DINNER because “that way we don’t have to deal with the fuss of cooking” might not sit so well with me, especially as they insisted we spend the holiday at their house.

I guess I’m posting about Thanksgiving after all. 

I am so grateful to my in-laws that there are simply no adequate words to express it, but this year’s shenanigans had me foaming at the mouth.  I don’t sew, don’t craft, don’t garden, or decorate.  I cook and bake.  And I don’t get to cook complex meals all that often, so it’s an actual treat for me to have the opportunity to do so.  And I got robbed.  And I got mad.  Hence the cupcakes.

As far as cupcakes go, these are incredible; the not-too-sweet cake is moist and fudgy; the ganache is sublimely silky and sensuous (well, it is – make it yourself and then argue with me).  Anyway, if you find yourself in a position of having to swallow words you don’t dare say out loud, bake these and eat them instead.

Wellesley Fudge Cupcakes with Ganache

 For the Cupcakes:

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate

Nom Nom Nom

Nom Nom Nom

½ cup water
1¾ cups sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ cup butter
3 eggs
¾ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F and line two muffin tins with liners.

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate in water over very low heat, stirring constantly until it’s smooth.  Add ½ cup of the sugar; cook and stir for 2 minutes longer.  The mixture will become very thick.  Remove from the heat and cool.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

Cream the butter.  Gradually add in the remaining sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Blend in the chocolate and vanilla.

Distribute evenly between 24 muffin cups.  Bake for 18 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over bake.  Cool 10 minutes in the pans and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cake Notes:

If you use non-stick or coated pans (even light coated pans), reduce the temp to 325F and add 3-5 minutes baking time.

This recipe originally makes a 9-inch layer cake.  Just divide the batter between 2 greased and floured 8 or 9-inch layer pans and bake 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool as directed above.

For the Ganache

2 cups whipping cream
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (the best you can find!)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan until it just comes to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla; stir until the mixture is absolutely smooth (I use a silicone spatula for this).  Transfer the chocolate to a glass bowl (NOT metal – will conduct the cold too quickly).  Refrigerate the mixture and stir every 10 minutes until the mixture is as thick as pudding (takes 50 – 60 minutes – set a timer).  At this point, the ganache will begin to set up quickly. Leave in the refrigerator and stir every 5 minutes until the frosting is thick as fudge.  (Alternatively – and I don’t think this works as well – you can set the bowl in ice water and stir constantly until it thickens up; problem is, you need to be very careful to get no water in the ganache or you’ll just have to throw it out, and you have to stir CONSTANTLY, which is kind of tiring – if it begins to get too thick, take the blow out of the water bath).

Make sure your cupcakes are completely cooled and then frost with a liberal dollop of frosting.

(So, we ate the takeout Thanksgiving dinner and nobody complained about the cupcakes.  Then we all watched a bunch of movies and had a fire in the fireplace and then went outside that night and built a fire in the firepit in the freezing cold to make S’mores.  And I was very thankful for all of the many blessings bestowed upon me.  But I’m hosting Thanksgiving next year.  And I’m baking pie.) 

Cupcake Recipe adapted from “Baker’s ™ Book of Chocolate Riches”, 1985 by General Foods Corp

Ganache from “Dessert Love’s Cookbook” by Marlene Sorosky, 1985, Harper & Row

Baker's Book of Chocolate RichesMarlene Sorosky Dessert Lovers Cookbook


Is it bad form to whine right before Thanksgiving?

Let me start off by stating that I have a lot to be thankful for (bad grammar not withstanding).  I have two beautiful daughters, a wonderful sister-in-law, three handsome nephews.  I have some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for and a parish that has helped me through some very bleak days.   I have a comfy home in a great neighborhood; a fantastic job; outstanding co-workers; and a pesky dog.

Good Grief!  There’s nothing to whine about (except the bad grammar of course).

A Happy and safe Thanksgiving to all.

(The girls and I are headed to my in-laws for Thanksgiving; it’s going to be a great time; if all goes according to the usual, there will be plenty to write about 🙂 )


Sunday Morning Baking – Cinnamon Wedges

One of my CCD students has a peanut allergy and is extremely reluctant to eat anything on doughnut or pancake Sundays .   I don’t blame him, but I also feel badly that he doesn’t get a treat, so this Sunday I made these tasty little pastries (with some input from his Mom) early on Sunday morning.  They mix up quickly; the texture is more delicate than a biscuit or scone; they’re not too sweet; and the spicy topping is perfect.  You can double this recipe easily and they freeze well also.  And the kids positively inhaled them, which is the best indicator of tastiness.

For the Biscuit:

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar20131125-191642.jpg
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. cold butter, cubed
1 cup plain yogurt

For the Topping:

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 425F.  Grease a baking sheet without sides (I used an insulated baking sheet for these).

Whisk the dry ingredients together.  Add the butter, and cut in until the mixture is crumbly.  Make a well in the center and pour in the yogurt.  Toss with a fork until the dough holds together, then gather it into a ball to pick up any stray bits.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 20 -25 times; add a little flour if necessary to prevent sticking.  Pat the dough into a circle and then transfer to the prepared baking sheet.  Pat the dough into a ¼-inch round and score 2/3 of the way through with a knife to make 12 wedges (this will help with cutting the pastry later on).  Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping ; melt the butter in a small saucepan; add the sugar and cinnamon, and stir until the sugar is melted. (You could also do this in the microwave).

Remove the pastry from the oven and brush the entire surface with the topping and return to the over for 8-10 minutes or until nicely browned (you might need to cover with some foil to prevent over-browning – I like non-stick foil for this).

NOTE – The recipe here makes 12 wedges; I doubled it and took one to Sunday School and the girls took the other with them to their Dad’s so it all worked out well.

Judy Gorman Breads of NE CookbookThis recipe adapted from Judy Gorman’s “Breads of New England”, Yankee Press, 1988.

(This is a really nice cookbook – it does presume some knowledge of working with quick and yeast breads, so it’s not exactly a primer, but I’ve always had great results with any recipe.  I’ve seen copies for sale on Amazon every so often and it would make a nice addition to any cookbook collection.  No, I’m not giving this one up if I go through the great purge).



Overheard at Mass on Sunday

I actively discourage whispering in the pews before Mass begins, but could not actually take umbrage with the following:

Angharad:  Advent starts next Sunday.

Iseult:  Thank goodness.

Angharad:  I know.  We get Latin again.

Iseult:  I don’t see why we can’t have it all the time.

Angharad:  Yes.  It’s so much better.

Iseult:  Plus the hymns are better.

Angharad:  That too.


Sunday Sillies

For when you’ve been very very bad……(and let’s face it, we’ve all been there at least once).

Bad Mints

(Fine, maybe there are some who don’t really deserve these, but they can’t be over the age of two, so can that even count?) 


Thursday Whine

Am I the only one who’s over the whole SALTED CARAMEL EVERYTHING business?

Can we move on to something else now?



(Didn’t I whine last Thursday as well?  Maybe I could make this a repeating event.  Must think on it.  Must also find something Silly for Sunday because I’ve missed two weeks now.)


An Afternoon Phone Call

Phone rings.

Me:        Hello

Iseult:   Hi Mama

Me:        Hi Sweetie, what’s up?

Iseult:   What are you making for dinner?

Me:        I thought you were going to Daddy’s.

Iseult:   I am. But what are you making for dinner?

Me:        I’m not sure yet.  Why?

Iseult:   Don’t make anything I like.

Me:        What?

Iseult:   I don’t want you to make something I like.

Me:        Why are you worried about this?

Iseult:   I’m not worried.

Me:        You know that even if dinner IS something you like, I will make it again.

Iseult:   I know.  But could you make something I don’t like anyway?

Me:        What’s the matter?  You know Daddy’s a great cook.  You’ll have a good dinner.

Iseult:   I know.  But can you make something only you like?

Me:        All right – I think I’m going to make salmon and lentils.  Is that icky enough for you?

Iseult:   Sounds gross.  Thanks Mama.  You’ll pick me up at 8?

Me:        Yes, I’ll be there.

Iseult:   Bring Daddy some of the cookies you made last night.

Me:        OK I will.  See you later.

Iseult:   Bye Mama.


(I can handle my own stress.  It’s theirs that gets to me.)




Monday Night Baking – Pumpkin Cookies

The last week has been out of control.  I was supposed to write a post about the Re-enactment of the Battle of Battery Wagner.  Didn’t happen.  I was going to write a post about seeing Amos Lee in concert on Friday night.  Didn’t happen.  I did, however bake pumpkin cookies tonight (because I was annoyed and baking is therapeutic).  These things are addictive.  They have a mild pumpkin and cinnamon flavor and are soft and cakey.   The frosting came out more like a glaze.  Not sure what happened there, but it was good nonetheless.  Frankly, though, they would be fine with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Puffy Pumpkin Cookies

For the cookies :

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp.  cinnamon (you could use ½ tsp. cinnamon and ½ tsp. of the other stuff)
1 cup butter (I used salted)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
7.5 oz. (1/2 can) solid pack pumpkin

Heat the oven to 350F.

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream the butter and the sugar; add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Beat in the pumpkin.

Add the flour mixture and beat until blended.

Use a 2 tsp. cookie scoop to drop the dough on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the tops are set.  They will be puffy and soft.

Remove to a wire rack and frost when cooled.
For the Frosting:

½ cup butter
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¾ cups powdered sugar

Cook and stir the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan until melted and smooth.  Pour into a medium bowl.  Add the milk and vanilla.  Stir in the powdered sugar until smooth.


(Recipe adapted from “Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications – 100 Best Cookies 2013”)

[Ed. I halved the original recipe because it made something like 60 cookies and I really didn’t feel like baking that many; so I ended up with about 30 and pawned off about 2/3 to my neighbor who has teenaged boys (with bottomless pits for stomachs)].


Getting Ready for School in the Morning

It was cold this morning at 0600 (and I accept that “cold” is a relative term).

“Mama, do you have any tights”


“Can I borrow some”

“Do you promise to not tear gifreakinormous holes in them?”

“It’s not my fault.”

“Granted.  But do you still promise?”

“OK I promise.”

“Why don’t you borrow tights from your sister?”

“Angharad won’t lend me any.”

“Why not?”

“I tear holes in them.”

(Yes, I lent her the tights.  She wore them with her green argyle uniform socks on the outside.  For real.)


When you have to make the impossible possible

We interrupt this lovely day for some 20-proof whining.

I have to make a deadline in 50 minutes.  I have none of the data yet.  I have to crunch numbers for 25 projects before I can make my deliverable.

Please pass the stilton; hold the crackers.