“So, what are you looking for?”…”What do you want to do?”…”What do you DO all day?”… Sound familiar? These are questions you answer over and over again if you are unemployed. And the folks who ask mean well, usually. It’s what you say to someone out of work. To be clear, I’m talking about the people who don’t really know you — casual acquaintances, ex-business colleagues, those‘I know a guy’ guys you were referred to and have to call, the people you meet at those painful networkers (blech!). So you smile and answer it again, and again, positively (even if it kills you), always putting your best well-clad foot forward. Because you never know who knows who, or where the connection might come from that leads to NOT being unemployed.
But…wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could say what you REALLY wanted to?
What are you looking for?
‘The passwords & pin codes for bank accounts of the heads of Goldman Sachs and one or two hedge funds…’
What do you want to do?
What do you DO all day?
‘Pleasure myself…’ (now get your mind out of the gutter…that could mean LOTS of things…)
I’d go crazy if I had all that time on my hands…
‘Yes, you would, because you have a weak and feeble little mind…’
And my favorite:
You know what you should do?
‘Yes….’ (and then walk away…)
However, you can’t. So just keep smiling sweetly and answering those questions positively and productively. But feel free to see the little cartoon thought balloons over your head and enjoy the ‘real’ answers you come up with! And afterwards, go home and whip up some of these. After all, chocolate and red wine are just FULL of antioxidants so they are good for you, really…
Chocolate Cabernet cupcakes
Makes 18 full-sized cupcakes
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 TSP baking soda
- ½ TSP baking powder
- 1 TSP salt
- ½ to 1 TSP cinnamon (depending on how much you like)
- ½ TSP instant espresso powder
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 TSP vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup Cabernet Sauvignon (plus a glass for the cook…I mean, the bottle IS open…)
- ½ cup roughly chopped dried cherries, (I soak these in a ¼ cup of port – feel free if you have it handy and if not, no worries)
- Chocolate ganache icing (optional, but really, is chocolate EVER just optional?)
Soak the chopped dried cherries in a little port to cover (if using) and set aside. Preheat oven to 350° F and line muffin pans with paper liners (or spray with cooking or baking spray). Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, espresso powder & cocoa powder into a large bowl or he bowl of your electric mixer). Add in the eggs, oil, vanilla and wine.
Beat with at low-speed for 30 seconds. Turn speed up to high and continue beating for 3 minutes, scraping side occasionally. Remove the bowl from mixer, drain the cherries (if soaking) and stir to the batter. Pour batter into prepared muffin pans, filling no more than 2/3 of the way full (avoid the urge to overfill them – they rise up and cupcakes should be flat on top, not domed like a muffin.)
Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center of the cupcake. Remove from pans and cool completely on rack before icing.
Chocolate ganache icing
NOTE: Recipe makes more ganache than you will need for this recipe. Ganache freezes well – I put in a ziploc sealed well to remove as much air as possible, and when I want to use it for another recipe (or to dip strawberries!) just warm gently over a water bath again and stir well.
- 1/3 cup plus 1 TBSP heavy cream
- 1/2 TSP instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
- small pinch of salt
- 1/2 TSP of unsalted butter
- 6 oz (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Heat all ingredients except the butter together in a double boiler or heat-proof bowl over simmering water until the chocolate is melted. Stir the mixture together until smooth. Add in the butter and stir vigorously until completely incorporated (this will give the ganache a nice shine).
To Assemble: Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into warm ganache and set on a rack to cool and firm up. And if you want to get a little fancy, sprinkle just a few grains of a good sea salt like maldon or fleur de sel on the top of each cupcake. Crazy you say? Well if you do, you won’t be disappointed. (I’ll have more crazy combinations in a later post…)
Chill cupcakes until the ganache has set. You should keep in a cool place or the fridge until about 15-20 minutes before serving. They also freeze well in an airtight container.
Yields/Calories: Makes 18 full-sized cupcakes: 185 calories each plain (yeah, right..) or 290 each with ganache.
NOTE: If you want to make mini cupcakes, the baking time is 9-10 minutes and the calories are about half of the full-sized one…so you can eat two! 🙂