I Cook Because I Care (with Recipe Reviews)

The class I teach at church starts tonight, and I submit Exhibit A that I am a big old softie.

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Yes, that’s a giant pile of freshly baked cupcakes and homemade frosting. I don’t want to pretend that I’ve spent all summer wishing I was teaching religious education, because I didn’t, but I really liked the girls in my class and most will be back for their second year with me and mom. Along with about 9 of their friends. (Yes, that means that I’m the bad cop to a group of 26, instead of 17. If you had told me as a 9-year-old that I’d be the bad cop and mom would be the good cop in this scenario, I’d have suggested therapy, but it works for us.) And I missed them and can’t wait to hear about their summers/the new school year! And to walk through this year with them!

I used the recipes I found here: Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche frosting

and Spice Cupcakes (though I have no doubt of the quality of the dulce de leche frosting she proposes, in the interest of time, I just doubled the frosting for the first recipe so I can use it for both.)

Here’s what I thought.

I had some aging heavy cream that I used instead of milk, and I substituted Vietnamese cinnamon for the garden variety, because I like my Mexican chocolate un-subtle. As I mixed the chocolate cupcakes, I was thinking that their process was more cookie-like— creaming together a lot of butter and sugar, consistency-wise they were a little thicker than muffins or cupcakes I’m used to.

And this should have been a tip-off.

I made full-sized and mini versions. The mini versions did not have cupcake liners. The recipe writer said to grease the pan if you didn’t line it, which I totally did, but extracting the mini muffins was flat impossible. I ended up turning all of them into crumbs from which I hope to make cake pops when I have time to cook again (not for days and days.) Here’s the tutorial I plan to use for that.

In fairness, the recipe is delicious (though the cupcakes themselves are a little flat and the outsides are a little on the firmer side— maybe more baking powder and milk?)— I have no complaints, I just wish I had… I don’t know— greased and floured? Bought mini-liners? Not had an epic fail in the middle of an epic project much too near my bedtime? Followed that up by another kitchen catastrophe? Something.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think my substitutions were the difference— in hindsight, I might have used half almond milk and half heavy cream in each of the recipes, but because I’m baking for kids, some of whom I don’t know, I wanted one of the versions not to use almond milk, in case there are allergies. I notice in photos of the recipe, the cupcakes are flat, and I think the batter was not cake-y enough to produce a muffin-y cupcake. Which can be a good thing, but you should know that’s what you’re getting ahead of time.

The spice cupcake recipe was also good— I doubled it and, as I mentioned, used almond milk, and they rose nicely. They’re moister. The flavor is subtle on these, which is why I think they’ll go well with a frosting that is so rich and flavorful. I’d say that I think the cooking time is a little short— when I took these out, they seemed done, but then a couple of them caved unattractively as they cooled and I popped them back in . I’d say closer to 20-22 minutes than 18.

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