Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy birthday to you, yeah! - Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

They say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too, yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you!

I woke up this morning, and my first thought was, whoo hoo, I can collect Social Security!  That's me, thankful for the small things.  I don't want to retire, not now, not for a good number of years, God willing.  But it's nice to have the option.

When I was a junior in high school, Honors English, our class was given an unusual writing assignment.  We were to write our own obituaries.  Some parents were rather upset at the morbid nature of the assignment and complained to school administration, but since I never told my grandparents anything they didn't absolutely need to know about what went on at school, they had no opinion on the matter.

My problem in completing this assignment was that I had never imagined a future for myself.  I had no dreams of husband, children, nor accomplishments.  I was 15 years old, in the early throes of a depression that would chase me the rest of my life.  My relationship with my grandparents had gone permanently south, and all I could dream of was getting out, but seeing no way to do so.

If I remember correctly, as a result of the complaints, the essays were not graded.  But they were returned to us with some comments, and all I can recall is my impression that the teacher was annoyed with me.  In retrospect, perhaps she was concerned, or even worried.  All I know is that she did not like the obituary I wrote for myself, in which "Cindy Morris, a graduate of Lawrence High School, became a war correspondent in Vietnam and was killed while covering a story.  She was 28 years old.  No husband, no children."  No Pulitzer Prizes, either.

As you might imagine, things have gotten a lot better since then.  They also got a lot worse at times, but that's life, as they say.

So today, on my 62nd birthday, I am happy and grateful to be here.

And I am going to bake cupcakes.  These are for my office peeps; I had planned on making them before Christmas, but epic fail and all that.  I think I'll freeze the baked cupcakes until Sunday, and then I'll frost them.

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (with pudding in the mix)
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water 

1 cup real chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 - 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Using a stand mixer or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
3. Spray a regular ice cream scoop with release spray, and scoop, distributing the batter between the muffin cups.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 22-24 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.  

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