I was a doofus and forgot to take better pictures of these.
I didn’t like peanut butter as a kid. That’s a mild way of putting it – I hated it. It was the mouthfeel that I couldn’t stand, that stickiness that coated every inch of your mouth. I vividly remember one day in elementary school when I ordered a peanut butter jelly sandwich for lunch out of morbid fascination. PB&J sandwiches were all anybody ate back then, so I decided to try it and see what all the hullabaloo was. I took one bite and threw it in the trash and went hungry the rest of the day. It was around that same time when we were reading Shel Silverstein in class and we got to the poem about the king who ate a peanut butter sandwich and got his mouth stuck shut for 20 years. That poem was what really sealed the deal for me. I’m not exaggerating when I say I spent the first half of my life terrified that peanut butter would glue my mouth shut.
I’m happy to say that I know better now and go through jars of peanut butter at an alarming rate to make up for lost time. I’m content to eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon, but I do occasionally like to put some work into how I consumer peanut butter, like this decadent peanut butter cake with chocolate ganache and peanut butter frosting.
One of my coworkers also adores peanut butter, so for her last day at work, I brought in this cake along with some cupcakes. She loved them, so I’d say my relationship with peanut butter – from hatred to love, bordering on obsession – has finally come full circle.
As a Midwesterner, I’m no stranger to rough winters. In Ohio especially, we’ve gotten freak blizzards in April on more than one occasion and a couple years where we had so many snow days the school district almost made us take extra days in the summer. But something about this winter seems like it’s been especially rough. Maybe it’s because I live in New York now and have to actually trudge through the snow and cold instead of driving around in a heated car everywhere. Or maybe it was Hurricane Sandy and the random snowstorm we had after it that threw everything off kilter. Either way, it feels like it’s been winter forever. Like, what do skirts even feel like? What are open-toed shoes?! But I digress.
To make up for the fact that it’s supposed to be spring but it’s still freezing outside (or maybe it’s just my apartment and its temperamental heating system), I made these festive birds’ nest cupcakes to celebrate a coworker’s birthday. And how cute are they, I mean, seriously.
You know those chocolate covered ice cream cones? Not straight out of the freezer, but after they’ve been out at room temperature for a while, so the chocolate is still hard but the inside ice cream is getting melty? These cupcakes are exactly like that, which is to say – delicious.
It’s been a funky week. My baking mojo has been off, resulting in two failed cakes and tears in the kitchen (though the tears may have been due to smoke inhalation).
On Tuesday, I attempted to bake a simple yellow cake for my coworker’s birthday, so of course my springform pan ended up leaking butter all over my oven and releasing an explosion of smoke that filled my apartment for the entire night. Hence the tears. In retrospect, it was totally preventable since I could smell the smoke almost as soon as it started, but I smartly decided to ignore it because I thought it would go away. This has also been a bad week for logic.
But one kitchen failure is not enough to deter me, so on Wednesday night, I made these homemade funfetti cupcakes that were only about 45% a disaster. I also made a small 6″ cake, but that turned out underbaked even though I stuck a toothpick in it and it came out clean. Toothpick, I thought I could trust you! I say 45% a disaster because they weren’t up to my standards, but the birthday girl and my coworkers all enjoyed them, so I guess it was a win in the end.
There is nothing I can say about these except that they are outrageously delicious and you must make them immediately and I want to eat them for the rest of my life.
I love gluten. I really, really love it. If gluten were a band, I would be its groupie and follow it around on tours and buy all of its CDs and get its name tattooed to my ass. That’s how much I love gluten.
But these gluten-free cupcakes…I would happily cheat on gluten with these babies. They use almond flour only, which is unique because almond flour is typically a secondary flour that’s used in conjunction with brown rice flour or other bean flours. Using almond flour really helps keep the flavor and texture similar to a regular cupcake, so you can’t even tell that it’s gluten free. There’s also no xanthan or guar gum, so no need to hunt around for specialty ingredients – at the same time, because these ingredients are omitted, these cupcakes don’t bake up quite as high as typical cupcakes would. Either way, they’re still delicious, and would make a great birthday treat for gluten-intolerants and gluten-lovers alike.