Life these days is simple. My life has slowed down since I graduated from college. I don’t have to worry about turning in papers, or staying out of the gossip mill, or driving four hours a week between my house and Handsome’s. I’m working retail, which (while not my dream job) has its benefits when it comes to stress. I just don’t stress about work, and I rarely work more than three days without a day off. My hours are set, and I am in the enviable position of being required to work a minimum number of hours a week, so my hours are in no danger of being cut. I have no trouble paying my bills, and even have some cash left over to (for example) bake a batch of cupcakes whenever I want.
I’m also more comfortable in my home, now that I don’t commute between cities. I’ve settled into our apartment and am thinking about changes I’d like to make to it. I go to the library frequently, checking out silly books for pleasure reading. (The Sookie Stackhouse series will eat up so many hours of your life, but it is so worth it. These books are like cupcakes: you can’t have just one, even though you probably should.) I have a routine, a schedule. Life outside of school is much calmer for me. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for me and I have so much to be thankful for.
Right now, I’m thankful for Martha Stewart. Why?. Her One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, that’s why. Dump ingredients in a bowl, mix, bake. Simple. I have several books of cupcake recipes and cute ways to decorate the little buggers, but today I wanted something simple. It’s been awhile since I baked anything, so going back to basics seemed like a good idea. I was right: basic, simple, straightforward, no-frills chocolate cupcakes were the perfect thing.
I halved the recipe since Martha’s original makes 18-24 cupcakes, and while the thought of eating all of those sounded sort of diving, my clearer head and desire for a slightly smaller waist prevailed. I used her Chocolate Frosting recipe as well, which combines butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and melted chocolate for the most decadent frosting you’ve ever had in your mouth. It’s also pretty easy. I made the whole recipe, unsure of how much I would need. I had plenty left over, so I froze it (after, of course, testing several spoonfuls). You should probably halve the frosting recipe, but I’m going to post it as I made it, in all its much-too-much glory.
Martha Stewart’s One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
Slightly adapted, and halved, from recipe in MarthaStewart.com
Makes 9-12 cupcakes (Made 11 for me)
You will need:
3/8 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/8 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
3/8 c. warm water
3/8 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil (Martha uses safflower oil, but I didn’t have any. It was fine.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 and line a regular muffin tin with paper liners.
Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add all wet ingredients and beat with electric mixer until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, distributing batter evenly.
Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when touched.
Cool cupcakes in muffin tin completely before frosting. Frost with Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Frosting (below).
Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from MarthaStewart.com
Makes enough to frost all the cupcakes you just baked, and then some. Proceed with caution.
You will need:
2 1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3/4 c. sour cream
Sift sugar, cocoa, and salt into a bowl.
Beat cream cheese and butter in separate bowl on medium-high speed until smooth. Reduce speed and add sugar/cocoa/salt mixture slowly. Add melted chocolate slowly and beat until combined. Add sour cream and beat until smooth. Frost cupcakes and enjoy. Enter sugar coma in 3.. 2… 1…
Postscript: Life is not always simple for others. The sister of a good friend has recently been diagnosed with a terrible illness, but she is fighting hard. Please keep this family in your thoughts, and bake a batch of cupcakes for a friend who needs them.