There is always that subtle hint of discomfort for me, come this time of year. I get sucked into a whirlwind of emotions once September approaches, some revolving around personal matters and some--well, let's just say I've managed to sound like a broken record on the blog over the past few years so I apologize now that I thought of it.
Holidays and special occasions are the sweetest thing once I'm in the middle of celebrating them, but when it comes to planning ahead and getting into that heart warming holiday spirit, I still struggle more than I care to admit. While the fact that autumn is vaguely making itself known in L.A. contributes to upping my morale, I still can't seem to grasp certain notions in life. For starters, the fact that I'm not the most enthusiastic celebrant doesn't, and shouldn't, equate to how good a mom or wife I am. Much easier said than done. To my family's dismay, I don't put so much of an effort into celebrating the way Greg grew up to be familiar with, nor the way we hope Selah will experience life as she grows more knowledgeable, and I probably let it bother me more than it should. I wish I were naturally holiday-zealous like Maryanne. Unfortunately I'm not.
I dust the fall decor that's been tucked away for a few years in the same manner one does an unreconciled relationship because it resonates of personal short comings. Cautiously, timidly. But that's exactly why I love these boozy cupcakes. They serve as a modest reminder that, while I didn't procrastinate too terribly with Halloween this time around as with other years, I still have a long way to go. It's a slightly win-win situation. Fortunately Trunk-or-Treat at church is almost here and if I were to be honest, that's probably the only thing that gets me excited for Halloween besides seeing Selah in ridiculously adorable costume. The mere thought of an entire neighborhood stepping on our grounds makes me leap with joy, to say the least. And as for my dramatic rant, I suspect my annoyance has a little bit to do with this and that, but with unresolved insecurities being the main cause. I figure the reason why I'm so harsh with myself, of whatever importance the situation may be, is that I've failed to look at life introspectively somewhere along the way. We all have something we want to improve (this being not-so-important actually) and however this comes into play for you, I'm walking right alongside you.
Where was I? Oh yeah, boozy desserts. Since boozy desserts are some of my favorites I have another rum recipe for you! The rum caramel drizzle is too good for words. The complexity of buttery, caramel goodness and earthy mixture of coffee and rum, make this another winner in my humble recipe collection. The chocolate cupcake base can be easily dressed up or down; you may add more butter and omit a bit of yogurt, or leave it as is--semi wholesome, with the incredibly rich mascarpone buttercream and caramel drizzle of course, because that's the only way one can eat two cupcakes in one sitting. I originally wanted to make these into coffins or ghost shaped figures to gain holiday motivation but alas, time is short so these will do. Cheers to a fun and safe Halloween, friends!
Chocolate Cupcakes with a Rum Caramel Sauce Buttercream
Makes 16 cupcakes || Adapted from this recipe
Time: 30 minutes including prep time
Equipment: stand mixer is preferable, or electric beater, flour sifter or mesh, cupcake pan
Ingredients for cupcakes
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted room temperature butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or more if you prefer it sweeter)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F (177 degrees celsius). For the cake, sift enough flour to make 2 cups. If you need to, sift it first into a large bowl to ensure you get 2 cups worth. Then gingerly transfer exactly 2 cups (since you might need more or less flour) to a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and stir gently a few times. In a separate bowl, add cubed room temp butter, sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, greek yogurt, milk, and whisk until well incorporated. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and gently fold with a rubber spatula to incorporate. Don't mix too much or it will result in dense cupcakes. Fill a buttered cupcake pan with batter, up to 3/4 of the way up and bake for approximately 23-25 minutes.
Ingredients for rum caramel sauce
3 tbsp butter
8 tbsp whipping cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp instant coffee grounds
4 tbsp rum
Heat all the ingredients except the rum in a small sauce pan over low-medium fire--about 4 minutes. Once it starts to simmer slightly, add rum and cook for another 1-1.5 minutes while stirring often. Set aside and let it cool.
Ingredients for buttercream
1 cup mascarpone cheese
6 tbsp butter
1 tbsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups confectioner sugar (or more if you like thick consistency)
In a stand mixer, beat all the ingredients in the listed order until buttercream reaches a silky consistency. Do not over beat, however, or it may end up with pockets of liquid.
Fill a medium ziploc bag with buttercream and seal the bag so there aren't air pockets within the buttercream. This will aid in the piping process. Snip a small hole on one corner of the ziploc (desired size, but enough so cream comes out easily) and pipe it on the cupcakes. Once the sauce is cool to the touch you may drizzle it on. Enjoy with afternoon tea!
Are festivities your strength? I'd love to hear your story!