Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hard Earned Cupcakes

As a baker, an important part of my schedule is working out. That way I can still fit through the kitchen door. I prefer to do video workouts at home. I know some people like going to a gym, but it works best for me to workout at home for several reasons:

1- I don't have to be embarrassed about how I look. The workout style bar is set pretty low in my family room - ratty t-shirts and shorts are just fine.

2- I don't have to drive anywhere. I could say this was about saving the planet, but it's really that I hate taking the time to drive to the gym when I can just walk downstairs and work out.

3- I can talk back to the instructors. Which I do. I moan and complain, whine and gripe, and let the instructor know what I think of her "just 4 more."

There is a workout which I'm quite fond of. Although the workout is tough, the instructor is darling, so I don't give her much of a hard time. But there is a point in the video where, after a particularly grueling part, she says, "You deserve this stretch! But not the cake." Every single time. Do I never deserve the cake?

When I checked out a new cookbook from the library, I fell in love with these darling cupcakes. Such pretty pink frosting - how could I resist? So I made them. I may not deserve the cake, but I'm pretty sure I deserve the cupcakes.

Dainty Cupcakes
- adapted from Deep Dark Chocolate by Sarah Perry & Jane Zwinger

1/3 cup premium unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp premium unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder*
1-1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/2 cup very hot water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

(* - The unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder gives the cupcakes a darker, richer color. If you don't have it, you can omit it.)

1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners.

2- In a small bowl combine the unsweetened cocoa powder, the unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, and the espresso powder. Add the hot water and stir till well blended. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

3- In another small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4- In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar on low speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the whole egg and the egg yolk, one at a time, until fully blended, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla.

5- Stir in the coffee-cocoa mixture again and add it to the butter mixture in 3 increments, alternating with the dry ingredients. Stir just until blended and smooth. Scrape down the bowl again. Divide the batter equally between the cups, filling each on 3/4 full.

6- Bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out just clean, 18- 22 minutes. Do not overbake or your cupcakes will be dry. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Dainty Pink Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Scant 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Red food coloring
Sparkly white sugar

1- Make sure the cream cheese and butter are not too soft, or the frosting will be too soft. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and almond extract on low speed. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add two drops of red food coloring and blend it in. To finish, increase the mixer speed to medium-high for 30 seconds.

2- Using a pastry bag and a large tip, top each cupcake with a generous amount of frosting. Sprinkle the sparkly sugar across the top of each cupcake. Serve at room temperature.


kickpleat said...

very dainty & pink! lovely cupcakes. i should try a dvd workout since i'm in a total workout slump. but when there's cake, it's hard to resist.

Debbie said...

Oh those look so good. I love all things chocolate! I walk every day on my lunch break to try to keep the weight off!

Anonymous said...

oh, i hate working out! but these cupcakes are so pretty!

NKP said...

I have a belly dancing workout that I do in the basement. Bella likes to watch me, especially my feet.
Your cupcakes are gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

So cute! Those are going to have to go back in my memory file of recipes to make for a girl's get together.

And, lol, I love all your reasons for working out at home. Those are all my reasons too. With a few additions like "working out at home doesn't require the cost of a gymn membership" and "running on a treadmill or an eliptical is just soooo boring!". :D

The Blonde Duck said...

I ADORE the dainty pink frosting! :)

What videos do you like? I just got into step-boxing!

Melinda said...

Hey...when the bossy skinny lady says, "Take five" I've always interpreted that as... take 5 cupcakes or 5 candy bars or 5 pieces of pie. I am sure that is correct.

Sweet cupcakes!

celine said...

such pretty cupcakes. i am imagining that i am eating one now and enjoying every bite of it! just can't afford to put on any weight.......

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Kickpleat - I wish we lived a tad closer. Then you could come over and work out with me. Then we could eat cupcakes together!

Debbie - Walking is a great way to escape stress and burn off the cupcakes.

DessertObsessed - I used to hate it, too. Now it's just something that I do.

Natashya - Belly dancing? That's awesome! I've heard it's quite the ab workout.

Gabe - yes, definitely those reasons, too!

Miss Blonde Duck - I do classic Firm videos and anything by Tracie Long. She's my workout queen. I saw your ode to your step - loved it!

Melinda - That seems like the obvious and natural interpretation of "take five."

Skinnymum - If imagining eating a cupcake were as good as actually eating one, I'd be much thinner.

pattio said...

I've wanted to make cupcakes with gorgeous piled frosting like that. I'm impressed.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I've seen you after a workout, you deserve the cupcake always and cake once in a while!
Really pretty cupcakes.

Chocolaty Lifestyle said...

So amazing, the pink colour suits for them :))

grace said...

good for you for getting in your work-outs, even if swearing might be involved. :)
dainty is the perfect word for these cupcakes--i love the dunce hat of frosting. :)

Anne said...

darn pretty cupcakes!...if I have that around my house then working out would be impossible for me :-)

Maria said...

Oooh! I love your cupcakes! Very nice!

Sarah said...

Oh work out buddy mom. These cup cakes where just wonderful. I loved them and I think I will have to make them and feel all impressed with my self as well. Do I deserve the cake yet? She tells me the same thing at least once a week and it makes me so bummed. Why am I working out if I don't deserve the cake? Isn't that the point? I'd like to point out though, she said NOTHING about cookies.

eatme_delicious said...

Very cute cupcakes! And topped with cream cheese icing mmm.

Lisa said...

Cute cupcakes. Cute story. How sad would life be if we never deserved to celebrate with cake? Of course celebrating is all the better with a cake that's so worth eating! These cupcakes sound so worthy.

Elle said...

What charming little treats! You DO deserve them!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

So cute and delicate - and hard-earned, of course!

Katherine Roberts Aucoin said...

I like to work out with Wii Fit...I like the boxing the best.

Your cupcakes look wonderful, I am a sucer for chocolate.

Eva said...

One of my main reasons for working out is to be able to have more you definitely deserve it!

Deborah said...

Everyone deserves cupcakes! These are darling!

cookies and cups said...

These look great! I agree with you on the working out!!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I want to start working out at home, but I have no knowledge about workout videos. What would you suggest for someone who doesn't work out? Lol I need something on a beginner level ;D