Cupcakes & Kitchen Adventures

Welcome to the PALS blog’s kitchen adventures! My name is Amanda and I’ve loved cooking since I was about two years old, when I used to help my Grandma make pancakes by dumping flour and sugar into her mixing bowl. Time spent with friends and family in the kitchen gives me some of my happiest memories, and my love of eating has turned cooking and baking into some of my favorite hobbies. I’m excited to share my kitchen adventures and my favorite recipes with you (including my Grandma’s pancakes). Grab some friends, grab your parents or just do it yourself – these recipes should be fun, creative and yummy and will allow you to share experiences and flavors with the people you love. I hope you’ll find them scrumptious and I hope you’ll enjoy my stories and be able to create delicious experiments and wonderful memories of your own.

I love to hear feedback. If the recipe worked for you, let me know. Photographs are a great way to share your creations – send them to blog@camppals.org and maybe we’ll post them! If you changed the recipe, share your changes. If you’re craving a specific dish or have a suggestion for a post, leave a comment and I’ll see if I can help you track one down.

For my first post I want to share a cupcake recipe that I made recently. Lately, there has been a cupcake craze sweeping the foodie nation. I subscribe to a few food blogs and am an avid food television watcher, all of which have been holding cupcakes as the new fad in baking. I’ve never been enthralled by the cupcake (why make a cupcake when you can have an entire cake, right?). Well, I have recently come to appreciate the portability and simplicity of the cupcake, I guess you can say I’ve jumped on the cupcake bandwagon. It’s a wonderful dessert to bring to a gathering because there are zero utensils or plates needed. With Halloween just around the corner, I decided to make the chocolatiest cupcake I could find (the recipe is adapted from www.americastestkitchen.com) to bring to a dinner party with a family friend. The inspiration came from the “dirt and worms” pudding cups I so often looked forward to when I was younger. Instead of pudding, the cakes are topped with a delicious chocolate butter cream frosting. For the dirt, I simply crumbled some extra cupcakes and sprinkled the crumbs on top. I found some great seasonal gummies (gummy pumpkins and gummy bugs!) that added the perfect amount of sweet, creepy and holiday-appropriate deliciousness.

All recipes are more fun with a friend or family member. This one, in particular, you may want some help, especially with hot coffee and chopping the chocolate. Decorating cupcakes is ALWAYS more fun with a companion.


Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 12–18 cupcakes
Total time: about 2.5 hrs (bake time is about 40 minutes plus, about 1.5 hours to cool and 10-20 minutes to frost)
Ingredients
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped fine)
1/3 cup cocoa
¾ cup hot coffee (the coffee makes the chocolate flavor better)
¾ cup flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, then heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with baking-cup liners.
2. Place chocolate, cocoa and butter in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over the mixture and combine until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
3. Whisk eggs and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture until smooth.
4. Add flour, sugar, salt and baking soda and combine until smooth.
5. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups (fill each a little over half way).
6. Bake until the cakes are just firm to touch (the tops will crack), about 15–19 minutes.
7. Cool cupcakes in pan until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
8. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting (if you frost them when they are still warm, the frosting will be a melted mess), about 1 hour.
9. Remove 3 cupcakes and break them up in a separate bowl with a fork (to a dirt-like consistency).
10. Frost the remaining cupcakes (see recipe for frosting below).
11. Invert cupcakes into the crumbled “dirt” cupcakes so the cupcake crumbs stick to the frosting.
12. Decorate cupcakes with gummies or candy of your choice.
13. Enjoy!

Chocolate Frosting
Ingredients
2/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
approximately 1/8 cup milk

1. Mix cocoa powder into melted butter until smooth.
2. Add vanilla.
3. Alternating, add powdered sugar and milk, stirring until frosting has your desired consistency (you may need more milk, you may need less. Always add powdered sugar first, so the frosting is not too runny, it should hold a peak when lifted).