Cupcake Celebrations

My intern for the summer has her last day tomorrow. Nazreth has been a huge help the past 8 weeks, and unfortunately, I am really going to miss her. Thankfully, she loves working with me so much that she wants to come back and volunteer for a while! (Well, maybe that isn’t the reason she wants to come back and volunteer, but it makes me feel really good to say that!

In honor of Nazreth’s last day, I made two cupcake recipes from Julie Hasson‘s 125 best Cupcake recipes. (I took the boys to the library the other day and found myself in the cookbook section.) I wanted to make Nazreth something really yummy. I know she used to drink a lot of coffee and sort of had to wean herself down to one cup each day, so I thought the Malted Espresso Cupcakes would be a special treat. I like malt powder, but have never had it mixed with espresso or coffee. Julie assures “they are an exceptional duo.” I figured why not! Because I wanted a backup in case she hated my first choice, I chose the Best Chocolate Cupcakes. Since the boys were in need of a bedtime snack, I knew this would be a winner with them at the very least.

One thing that I really like about Julie Hasson’s cupcake recipes are that they are small batches – most are for 12 which is the perfect number because I will only end up eating about 6 if I make 12 rather than 12 of 24. I also like that her recipes are about whisking in things (flour mixtures get whisked into the main batter in three segments and the liquid mixture gets whisked into the batter in two segments). I have NEVER had such beautiful batters. That sounds really weird, but I can’t help it because it is true.

As any good baker, I had to test the batter prior to baking. The Malted Espresso Cupcake was interesting, but not dazzling. While the cupcakes cooled, I made her buttercream frosting recipe and halved it – left half plain and added some espresso to the other half for the Malted Espresso Cupcakes. The boys confirmed my suspicions – the chocolate cupcakes were terrific and we agreed brownie like. (I even baked them about two minutes too long and they were still great.) Troy had his cupcake topped with frosting paired with a frosting squirt straight from the bag into his mouth. Jack doesn’t like frosting much, but he tested the frosting and decided he’d have a squirt on his cupcake as well.

Once the boys were settled, I decided to frost the Malted Espresso Cupcakes with my espresso buttercream frosting. OMG were they AWESOME!!! I couldn’t believe it! The malt and the espresso ARE the perfect combination! My camera batteries are charging, so I’ll take a picture in the morning.

Speaking of cupcakes, I’ve lost 12 of my 16 pounds I’d set out for. I’ve remained stable for several weeks now at the 12 pound mark, and I can’t deny it anymore. The last 4 pounds are going to require MORE exercise. I increased my exercise initially by walking from the commuter lot at work. I park 1.13 miles away from my car. (Imagine I said we would never use the GPS!) I also used WeightWatchers.com to get my eating back in check. I am very happy that after about 6 weeks of tracking EVERYTHING I ate, I no longer have to use the points to calculate AND best of all, I am not constantly hungry!!

Speaking of exercise, I had coffee with a friend from MN. Peggy was in town because she is a driver for some friends who are doing RAGBRAI. (For those of you not in the IA know, RAGBRAI is the longest, largest and oldest touring bike ride in the world thanks to the Des Moines Register (newspaper). Thus, Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.) It is huge, annoying for traffic, motivational and cool all at the same time. You can do the whole ride from the western IA to eastern IA over 6 or 7 days OR you can do one leg or part of a leg. It makes me want to not mind a sore butt to bike next summer.

At any rate, Peggy and I were able to catch up, something we haven’t done for a very long time.

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