High-Hat Cupcakes

High-Hat Cupcakes

I love cupcakes. Some argue that cupcakes are over, but I disagree. What’s not to like about a single serving of cake, a decadent little bit of heaven, just enough for a nice treat, or to share with a friend? There’s nothing not to like about that! And chocolate…I also love chocolate. Chocolate and cupcakes together? The perfect match!

A while back I saw a recipe on Pinterest that linked to Martha Stewart’s Hi-Hat Cupcakes (and really that should be spelled “High” instead of “Hi” so I changed it!) I’ve wanted to make them every since. But let’s be honest, as brilliant as Martha is about some things she can take something relatively simple and make it so difficult you want to just give up. This recipe? Well yes it is just like that! BUT you can make it simpler, much simpler.

First of all if you’re making this recipe read through it first. Not that I didn’t you understand. I would never do that. Seriously…

OK you caught me, I didn’t read through it. There are you happy? Now back to the recipe-o-rama.

If you follow this as written you’ll notice several things. First she has you using like 3 or 4 bowls for just the cupcake part alone…for one recipe…all of which you have to wash and that doesn’t include the bowl for the icing and the double boiler for the chocolate. That’s not my idea of a good time washing all those dishes! Not at all!

You could easily do the cupcake batter in one bowl. First melt the chocolate and then let it cool. After the chocolate is cool, add the creaming ingredients, along with the sour cream, extract and other wet ingredients in to the chocolate and mix well. Next add baking powder and salt (I used 1 teaspoon of salt instead of the recommended 1/4 teaspoon) and stir to mix that in and then add the flour and mix until batter forms. The recipe calls for all purpose flour, but I used cake flour and I baked them as directed.

And now let’s talk about the icing….

High-Hat Cupcakes

Basically you’re making an egg white icing, or as I like to call it “marshmallow” icing, because it tastes and looks a lot like marshmallows. The directions in the recipe to make this quite frankly just don’t work and the first batch just didn’t come together. I’ve never had that kind of issues with egg whites, though I know others who have. I ended up just melting the sugar in the egg whites, water and cream of tartar on a double boiler until warm to the touch and then whipped them on high. I didn’t get them stiff enough, so it sort of sagged once the cupcake had sat for a while, but despite looking wilted once the chocolate was on top, they still tasted fabulous. I also ended up drizzling the chocolate over the top of the cupcakes instead of dipping them due to the not quite stiff enough icing and the first one collapsing the cone top.

You could easily shortcut the cupcakes and just use a mix. I recommend King Arthur Flour’s cake mixes and the chocolate one is especially fabulous. You could make a stiff icing with marshmallow fluff, cream cheese and enough powdered sugar to make it firm and not have to deal with egg white drama. Also the recipe calls for corn syrup in the topping chocolate, but I used coconut oil instead. It makes a form of “magic shell” chocolate which is just perfect for this.

High-Hat Cupcakes

Again I can’t stress enough, this is a recipe you need to read and read carefully. There are mistakes in the recipe. In the cupcake portion it says 1/2 cup of water when it means sour cream and in the icing portion it wants you to add 1/4 of a cup of water to the egg white/sugar mixture, but it isn’t listed in the ingredient list. It’s confusing. This might even be a read 3 or 4 times sort of deal. Trust Martha to make it anything but simple!

High-Hat Cupcakes

No matter how you do it though, this is a really fabulous taste combination and both Alexis and I really enjoyed them even though the icing/chocolate got slipperier and flatter than the pictures above. After all isn’t the best part the taste anyway?

Yes, yes it is!

Cancer Comes to Visit

Cancer Comes to Visit: How My Sister's Breast Cancer Diagnosis Has Renewed My Passion For Real, Whole Foods

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 2nd and it wasn’t a happy new year and over all this definitely isn’t the way you want to start out any year, especially the one that is unfolding before you. 2013? So far I’m not impressed with you! My sister will spend this year fighting mutant cells at the age of 37. She did everything right, yet it just goes to show that sometimes doing the right things doesn’t seem to matter, or in layman’s terms cancer is a bitch. Our environment, our processed foods, it’s all contaminated and a big change is needed, even if it means corporate food comes tumbling down.

Since Katherine’s diagnosis I’ve been doing a lot of research on the healing powers of food. I’m a food blogger; I love food; food is what I am good at; so why not see what food can do for us? It gives me something to obsess about and keep the negative ideas that want to pop into my head at bay. All of us at some point have most likely heard the term “superfood” and I wondered if there was anything to these ideas. If you think about it, it makes sense, the more colorful, less processed, more whole the food is, the better that food is for you. It isn’t difficult to comprehend; in fact it’s really a part of our primal intuition and intuition is rarely wrong.

While looking in to the healing properties of food you come across all sorts of interesting things. For instance there are various foods that can help in homeopathic ways; artichokes can help calm your aching stomach, dandelion greens help both mood and liver function, components of eggplants actually consume free radicals, sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties, chard helps vision, watermelon helps with weight loss and pumpkin seeds can help lower cholesterol, just to name a few. I’d much rather go natural instead of chemical, it just makes better sense.

But what about the foods that help with cancer?

Broccoli and broccoli rabe have compounds that have been shown to neutralize carcinogens. The sometimes hated Brussels sprouts can too. Cabbage in particular, both red and green, helps in terms of breast cancer, the one that is particularly of interest to us at the moment. Carrots also have some anti-cancer properties, as do all the leafy greens, the darker the green the better, horseradish has components that actually have been shown to slow the growth of cancer, mushrooms, particularly the Shitake variety in particular, are powerful in the fight against cancer and this is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t even begin to touch on herbs, roots and spices.

As time passes we’ve replaced whole, real foods, with crappy processed foods that are more chemical, than actual food. You can even find organic processed foods, which completely defeats the purpose. There is this erroneous idea that eating real, whole foods is more expensive than eating the crap that lines our store shelves and it isn’t; it’s actually cheaper, but big agriculture doesn’t want you to know that because their crops (mostly corn and soy, and increasingly GMO varieties at that) are what is taken and made into those processed products that kill us from the inside out. Is it easier to eat processed food? In some cases yes, but easy doesn’t make it the proper path, plus there is also a preconceived notion that cooking is hard. It’s not.

But what to do?

First buy the least processed things you can. If you just have to buy a processed food look for ones that have ingredients you can pronounce and recognize at first site. If there are chemicals in the food, you know you want to avoid that. Fruit and vegetables are your friends, especially if they’re fresh and local, and organic, fresh and local is even better. Fresh and local are your friends. Organic is too. Some people say there is no difference, but take a look in to biomagnification and you’ll see that is anything but true…in short if you put pesticide on your food, it stays there. If you put it on food that is given to animals, it ends up in their products. It’s that little word known as science that sadly so many people these days seem to shun. Also the fresher the food, the more nutritious it is. Avoid farm raised fish, find a local source for as much of your food as possible, kick those chemicals to the curb, sodas need to go, green tea is a miracle and apples really can help keep the doctor away!

Cancer sucks. You know that, I know that. But you take the hits as they come and you come out swinging. As my sister takes this horrid journey, and we her loved ones come along by proxy, I hope to learn more about the healing power of food and going backward in food history and eating real food instead of crap is but a stone on the path, a path we’ll come to the end of and move on to a happier, brigther tomorrow…together.

Cross posted at Daffodil Lane.