|From Adriana Baking|
It’s humid, hot, and the weather is practically unbearable. It’s summer!
For about a week now, I’ve been pet-sitting our neighbors’ two German Shepherd Labrador mixes . When I get up in the morning, the sky is a cloudless stretch of bright baby blue, and the trees just outside my bedroom are awake with the music of songbirds and the gentle swaying of the wind, weaving in and out of their deep emerald-green leaves. Seemingly, the weather is perfect. But once outside, I’ll be drenched in sweat without so much of a light breeze to cool me down. The dogs will be pulling on their leashes one minute, then suddenly jerking to a stop the next in hope of finding a morsel of food left behind on the dark gray pavement. And by the time the sun sets and it’s time for another walk, the weather will be no less hot than before.
During heat spells like the ones this summer, all my energy is drained trying to keep cool. Having the air-conditioner on definitely helps, and the low whir of its motor rotating is rather comforting. But at times I find myself too tired to do anything but curl up on the couch with a good book and a glass of ice water in hand.
Along with the heat and humidity, people keep to themselves and rush to get to their destination as fast as they can in efforts to avoid the hot streets. Simple acts of kindness such as holding a door open for someone are overlooked. But random acts of kindness out of the heat and in the cool are certainly not few and far in between.
|From Adriana Baking|
Take last week for example. It was an unassuming, ordinary day. My sister and her friend were playing a game of Monopoly, and I was just about to join them. I prepared myself for a long, tiring game, because a game of Monopoly tends to last no less than an hour. My mother was expecting S-, a student in my father’s department, over for a cup of coffee. I greeted her at the front door when she ran the doorbell, gladly dropping the game of Monopoly because I wasn’t doing so well anyway. She smiled at me as she pulled a book out of her purse and handed it to me, all the while telling me that she was subscribed to my blog and received an email every time I updated it. I thanked her and took the book from her hands, curiously opening the front cover. The photograph that peeked out at me was one of a beautiful vanilla cupcake, swirled high with buttercream and decorated with a sprinkling of white non-pareils. I was over-joyed to receive Cupcakes, a gorgeous cookbook with numerous flavor combinations and recipes. The book was an unexpected gift, but such a thoughtful one. I spent the remainder of the afternoon thumbing through the pages and bookmarking every recipe that caught my fancy. (Every other recipe to be exact!) S-’s thoughtfulness made my week, and encouraged me to pass on a random act of kindness, anonymously or not, just to make someone smile.
Thank you so much, S-!
|From Adriana Baking|
My father requested devil’s food cupcakes because of their light, airy crumb, and their rich, chocolaty undertones. His choice was an excellent one; with a rich chocolate glaze, they’re one of the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve made. I decided to garnish them with a curl of candied citrus peel, as I had some left over from making yet another batch of panforte ice cream. You can tell from the picture above that they have a reddish tint to their otherwise deep brown color. I did some research and found out that red velvet cake and devil’s food cake recipes were interchangeable some time ago, except that red velvet recipes were colored red. I haven’t yet found a good recipe for red velvet cake yet, but I imagine dying these cupcakes with beet juice or food coloring would work perfectly. If I want them to be very red of course, because they are perfect the way they are.
Devil’s Food Cupcakes
From Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski
Makes 12 standard sized cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup buttermilk
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with foil or paper liners.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the water and the buttermilk, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium-high speed just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds. Do not overbeat.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
Spoon the chocolate glaze (recipe below) over the cupcakes. (The glazed cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days; bring to room temperature before serving.)
Rich Chocolate Glaze
Makes about 1 3/4 cups
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
In a small saucepan combine the cream, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and let stand for about 3 minutes. Using a whisk, stir the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature and use right away. (The cooled glaze can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; before using, soften the glaze by gently heating it in a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, simmering water in a saucepan.)