Have you ever had a mild-panic attack onset by the sudden realization that you’re getting older? You are struck by the fear of failure; you’re not where you thought you’d be, you’re not successful enough, you haven’t found love, so on and so on. You ignore all that you are and start dwelling on all that you are not. It’s the worst and it happened to me this week. Crazy thoughts popped into my head and dragged me down to the land o’ bummer for about a day and a half. But I snapped out of it, all thanks to the comfort and beauty of a spectacular homemade cupcake.
In a couple of weeks I will be celebrating my long-awaiting 30th birthday. I say “long-awaiting” because I feel like I have been in my 20s forevvvvvveeeerrrrrr. Striking out on my own at 16, moving downtown with nothing more than a canvas knapsack of clothes, giant yellow walk-man and an ID that stated I was actually 21 years old. I must of adopted that as truth and just aged with that ID because I may be turning 30 next month but I feel at least 35 (some days 95). The first half of my actual 20s were all about career ambition and world domination. Around the 25 year mark, I met Brett and we began our adventures in domestic family land. To recap: first half of my 20s was all career and little love, the second half was all love and no career. I need some f@#king balance in my life. This is the part where I started to panic. For the sake of the family, I needed to snap out of this funk quickly. I needed a distraction. I needed chocolate.
I started baking my favourite chocolate cake but then decided to pour it into cupcake molds instead. Then I craved caramel, and created the silkiest, homemade caramel sauce on my stovetop. By the time the cupcakes were cool and ready for frosting, plain buttercream just didn’t seem to cut it so I whipped some of the chilled caramel sauce into the butter and sugar mixture. It all tasted so decadent and once piped, they looked amazing but I still wasn’t fully satisfied, so I drenched each cupcake with the remaining warm caramel ooze, stepped back and smiled with that certain sense of accomplishment. I had created perfect cupcakes. Cupcakes make me happy, baking makes me happy, after all of my experiences, this I know today to be true. I can work with that.
Here’s what I’m thinking, fully-embracing all of the panic that the milestones in life can bring is healthy. Just don’t spend too much time dwelling on the past or even the future. Don’t stress too much about all of those other details when you have things in your life that can simply bring you joy right now – like Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake
Makes about 24 cupcakes or 2x 9″ round cakes
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
- 3/4 cup hot water
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease pan(s) or lay out your cupcake liners.
- Beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time; add vanilla. Stir flour with cocoa, baking soda and salt and beat into butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk, in two additions.
- Dissolve coffee in hot water; gradually beat into batter just until smooth. Spoon batter equally into muffin pans. Bake for about 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Let sit for 15 minutes and then transfer to rack to cool completely.
- 2 cups butter
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 3 Tbsp prepared caramel sauce, room temperature (recipe below)
- 1 tsp fleur de sel
- Beat butter until fluffy; beat in the chilled caramel. On low speed, gradually add icing sugar, increase speed and beat until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
- Sprinkling just a dash of fleur de sel on each cupcake is the final step. I recommend doing after the caramel drizzle.
No longer over-thinking this birthday, these are the numbers that rule my thoughts today: $27.50 remaining in the week’s grocery budget, 20 diapers left in the drawer, 8pm pilates class, 3 dozen cookies dues tomorrow . My favourite number is 5, I just love top 5 lists. My brother and I speak in “top 5s” constantly and it drives Brett bananas. I’m thinking about adding my love of Top 5 lists to HPA blog posts. What do you think? Let’s try it out with 5 songs that always pick me when I’m feeling down:
5. Velvet Underground – Rock n’ Roll
4. Johnny Cash – Get Rhythm
3. Queen with David Bowie – Under Pressure
2. The Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
1. Beatles – All you need is love
Together, the perfect soundtrack for making caramel sauce.
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 tsp butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (35%)
- Combine syrup, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and stir until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring. If you can’t control yourself, just give the saucepan a little swirl.
- Remove from the heat and stir in butter. Stir in the heavy cream and return to the stove’s element. Cook, stirring until smooth, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Pour into a heatproof bowl and cool completely until thick.
I hope I’m not the only one to feel the sudden urge to panic when a big birthday approaches. If you, too, find yourself feeling distressed, I hope these amazing cupcakes can help you as much as they have me. Enjoy! xoAdd to favorites