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 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.
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 Ganache2 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