Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Chocolate coffee stout cupcakes

It's that time of year, the time to be Irish even if the blood is thinner than water! For my end, that blood is eight generations past, but no matter - we will celebrate anyway.

This year's celebration comes with a 5K, corned beef, social gatherings, nary a green item in my wardrobe, Guinness and some fine Coffee Stout from New Glarus Brewing Co.

I wanted to make some homemade cupcakes for a work function this past week, and had a fabulous recipe printed out for a coffee or regular stout beer cake, complete with layering and all that fun stuff. However, once the night before, it was clear that measuring, etc., wasn't going to happen. It was either mix it up, or throw in the towel. I chose a mix.

So, this is a riff on a devil's food chocolate cake mix with (sigh) canned frosting because Pillsbury gets that this stuff just happens sometimes. Paired with the sleeve of Thin Mints from the fridge, it even looked like I tried. Kind of...

So here you go - cupcakes and a side of beer. Slainte!

Chocolate Coffee Stout Cupcakes
Makes 21-24

1 devil's food chocolate cake mix
1 cup coffee stout, or regular stout (replaces water)
1/8 cup sour cream (replaces half the oil)
1/8 cup oil
3 eggs
1 can cream cheese whipped frosting
1 sleeve Thin Mints plus a few extra (you have extra Thin Mints just hanging around right? Har har)

Preheat oven to package directions. Be sure to measure the stout after the beer settles to make sure you have a full cup. Mix all ingredients for a few minutes - batter may be a bit lumpy. Line cupcake tins with papers, and divide batter evenly. Bake as directed for cupcakes. I believe mine took about 18 minutes.

The stout adds a richness to the flavor and the sour cream makes these unbelievably soft in texture. It's a great combination, and I really can't be sure the original recipe would have been as good. Well, possibly...

Cool completely and frost. I packed the entire can of frosting into a large ziploc bag, then cut one of the corners to pipe it on there. Start small with the cutting, by the way - you can always make it larger. And "piping" for me is a loose term, but it's way faster than trying to spread it on there.

Fun fact about Thin Mints - there are only about 16 or so cookies in a sleeve. So, some of my cupcakes were cookie-less. :/ Ah well.

And now, that pesky extra four ounces of stout. What will you do with it? Such a quandary...


Monday, March 7, 2016

Everyday winter magic

As I referenced in my first post, this is the year of finding magic in the everyday. (We're calling it winter for kicks. Yes, I know it's 60 degrees - just roll with it.)

It's not always easy to do. Today, for instance, was a tough day. Phone calls with doctor's offices - for routine crap. (Really? On hold three times? Seems excessive.) Phone calls with repair people. Organizing upcoming events. Traffic on bridges. Leaky faucets. Nothing major, but kind of a combination of crap. Not exactly the kind of day for magic. More the type of day for cursing the minutiae of everyday life, really. (Why hellooo, bitter barn! :) )

And yet, there is magic. That's the thing - it's there, every single day, repairs or not, waiting for us to notice. So, here we go!

First off, miracle of miracles, the seedlings are blooming! Under the glare of an LED grow light, but still - tomatoes!

While we're at it, let's give some props to the hibiscus that won't quit. This is an end-of-February/beginning of March bloom we've got going on here. Way to be, plants!

Peace between our dogs.

This doesn't seem like a big deal in the photo, but just recently our youngest has been a terror on walks, prompting us to start obedience training this month. Nice to see the calmer side!

Girl Scout cookies. Yay for February! (Sadly, this is our second order. :/ )

And let's give it up for some funny cats. Gollum was posing nicely for the camera when he got distracted.

Turns out he was staring at Charlie, pretending to be a ballerina.

You can't make this stuff up, kids. More next time!