Alternative Therapies

So I don’t know about you guys, but today has been a “Come home and eat Nutella out of the jar” kind of day.

My boyfriend, Mike, eats his Nutella with a granola bar. I just use a spoon. There is one downfall to Mike’s method.

Granola bars are not very durable.

See? This is why we don’t have nice things.

I kid, I kid. We have many leather-bound books.

Moving right along..There are a few things that I do, you know, other than eat various nut butters, when I’m overwhelmed. At the beginning of the summer, I decided that I needed a higher intensity workout, so I started running. I now run 5-6 days a week, depending on my schedule, and have found it to be an enormous stress reducer. I’ve found that most forms of physical activity help clear my mind and make me feel strong and confident.  My friends also play a vital role in helping to maintain my level of sanity. There’s nothing like getting coffee and shooting the breeze for a few hours, or getting together to play a round (or two) of Apples to Apples. When life feels particularly out of control, there is one place that I always return to: the kitchen. I know that at the end of a long day, most people don’t want to worry about cooking or baking, but I find it incredibly therapeutic. Plus, after having someone tell you what to do all day (boss, professor) the kitchen is your domain. You can essentially do whatever you want. I don’t bake as much as I would like, so when a friend’s birthday comes around, I get super excited and plan far in advance.

Remember this little guy from Marissa and my first post? I made him 2 years ago for my sister’s fiance’s birthday. My sister, A, and her fiance, J, are the the most fantastic couple ever. My sister is my biggest inspiration, and I’m extremely lucky to have her as a friend, as well as my only sibling.

J’s birthday is in August, so sister unit and I started planning a few weeks ahead of time. A had the idea of making a peanut butter and chocolate cake, but the restaurant where the party was taking place charged for plates and forks.  They suggested cupcakes instead, so that’s what we would make! Strange but true: My sister and I don’t really like cake. We are totally Team Pie. Whew! That feels good to get off my chest. However, I saw this recipe on tastespotting, and knew it was the one we had to make.

That’s right. That is a whooole lot of chocolate.

Since I provided the link to the recipe, I will show you the steps in the form of pictures. Isn’t that pot all full of melty goodness? MMm chocolate and butter.

Dry ingredients! I did not sift these, A did, because I hate sifting.

Sugar + eggs! I cannot tell you how excited I was to use a stick blender. It was my first time.

Lookit the swirl!! Ok, I promise there are only 3 or 4 more stick blender pictures.

Blender, getting it’s incorporating on.

FLOURED!

Peanut butter cup..cakes?!

Nothin’ says lovin’ like PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES from the oven

I was really really proud of how these turned out. It was my first time piping!

Did I mention A has a 3-tiered cupcake carrier? She does. Because she’s awesome.

As you can see, we had to decrease the height of the frosting, otherwise they would have gotten smushed by the bottom of the layer above.

Oh. Mah. Gah. Is your mouth watering? I know mine is.

The verdict: Keep in mind that I don’t like cake. This was some good cake. Therefore, if you like cake, you should probably get up right now and bake these. Seriously, why are you still sitting there? Oh, you’re waiting to hear about the frosting. Confession #2 of the night. I’m not a frosting/icing person. I find the majority of frostings to be too sweet and not have much flavor. That being said, this one was okay. I wanted to LOVE the frosting because I’m in a long-term relationship with peanut butter (don’t tell Mike), but it ended up tasting too much like confectioners sugar. Everyone at the party demolished the cupcakes, so I would say that this recipe is a definite keeper.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to go fall into a sugar coma. What are some of your favorite cupcake recipes?

Ps- I’ve been working on taking better pictures. Here is a picture of a pretty lake to prove that I’m improving. Bear with me, and any and all tips would be great!

–Ariel

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