Monday, August 5, 2013

Sunnier Days and Sunflower Cupcakes

I moved to Norwood because I couldn't stand living in the city.  It was big and loud and exhausting and there weren't enough trees.  Now that I have relocated to the suburbs, I find myself having a lot of alone time.  The boyfriend works long and strange hours, and I am usually home by myself with Peanut.  At first, I resented Jay for working so much and for leaving me all alone.  I could not stand the silence of being by myself for twelve hours at a time.  I had finally moved to a place where I could hear myself think, and now I was tormented by my own thoughts and an intense feeling of loneliness.  I find myself wishing we had a TV, just for the background noise.

Where did this come from?  This isn't me.  I used to love the quiet of just sitting by myself in a field on the farm, listening to the wind blow the hay while the birds sang, and the occasional hum of a distant tractor.  I seem to have lost my appreciate for having peace of mind, and for that, I have nothing to blame but the last five years of living in cities.

There is a lot going on in my life right now, and not all of it is positive.  Living in Boston, I felt so busy and anxious and stressed out from the hussel and bussel around me that I could avoid thinking about things.  Now, my mind is quiet in Norwood, and I have to learn to face myself again.  I want to start running more, meditating more, baking more, and going to yoga regularly.  I want to relearn how to be comfortable in my own body and in my own head.  I want to have happier, sunnier days.

A large part of getting through this readjustment period will be the friends that surround me.  Our new neighbors, Brian and Patrice, invited us over for their legendary taco night last week, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start baking for fun again.  To go with the dinner theme, I chose to make something with a little kick.  And to go with my quest-for-a-happier-life theme, I chose to make something bright and sunny.  This is what I came up with:

Mexican Sunflower Cupcakes
Chili Chocolate Cupcakes topped w/ Oreos and Vanilla Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Tegan's cake
Yield: 2 and a half dozen cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chili flakes
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup strong brewed black coffee
1 cup milk (I used almond)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Assemble Ingredients
Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line muffin trays with liners
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until smooth.
Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to finish cooling completely
Once cool, decorate as desired.  I used half an Oreo (with the centers scraped off) and yellow vanilla buttercream.  I secured the Oreo with some frosting, and then used a leaf decorator tip to make the petals.

The night was a lot of fun, and so were the cupcakes.  They had just enough kick that sat in the back of your throat to know that they weren't just regular chocolate, but not too much to be unpleasant.  They were also most and had a lot of rich, dark chocolate flavor.  I highly recommend them for any spicy dinner occasion.

Here's to living a sunnier life.

Love and cookies,

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