What Paula Deen taught me about men (and the best Triple-Chocolate Cupcakes EVER)

“Today, I’m going to show you how to cook for your man,” she said in typical Paula-Deen fashion, waving around a spatula with a delectable, buttery something-or-other simmering on the stove in front of her.

My attention immediately went from the bowl of cereal I was munching on to staring raptly at the TV screen. You see, when I really think about it, everything I have ever learned about men has come from Giada, Ina, and Paula — because clearly, they know what they’re talking about. It’s all in the cooking, my friends… all in the cooking.

I started a new job this summer. Now, I’m still in college, yes — but I also work part-time at a software company as a technical writer… with a lot of men… and they love their food. Pie. Cheesecake. Lasagna. Cupcakes. You name it, I’ll cook it — because as the old idiom says, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!” And so, I’ve taken a few lessons from my three cooking-comrades.

Allow me to explain.

Giada DeLaurentiis. Oh, Giada, why are you so gosh-darn attractive every single time you cook? I mean good gravy, lady, leave some pretty out here for the rest of us! Somehow (and I don’t exactly know how), she looks flawless even when wrestling with mixers, boiling oil, cocoa powder… it doesn’t matter what she’s doing or how much of a mess the kitchen will end up being — she just looks lovely. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve perfected that art yet (hand me some cocoa powder and a mixer and you’ll end up with a room coated in a lovely light brown film, myself included), but I’ve discovered that wearing a frilly apron hides a lot of the cocoa dust, and when you add pearls and heels… you’re halfway there! Small steps, Meggo, small steps.

Of course, we also have Ina Garten, the woman with a name that younger Megan mistook as a play on “in a garden.” This talented lady taught me how to include a man in the cooking process without actually letting him do a single thing in the kitchen. She is brilliant. Every episode of Barefoot Contessa includes some nice guy (often her husband Jeffrey, but not every time!) running to the store to pick up the perfect wine, cheese, bread, or combination of the three (Ina, where are you finding all of these men?). SUCCESS. He’s out of the kitchen, and while she whips up a mouthwatering spread at home, he’s grabbing the extra treats to make the meal perfect! I call that genius.

And then… you have Paula. Bless you, Paula Deen, for cooking with butter and always being so bubbly. Without you, I might not be brave enough to cook the terribly unhealthy but disarmingly delicious goodies I’ve become so deft at whipping up — and all with a smile on my face! Think about it, friends. Have you ever seen an episode of Paula’s Kitchen where at least one friend or family member doesn’t pop in? Paula’s kitchen is never empty. There are her sons. Her hubby. Her friends. Grandchildren. She’s practically a people-magnet, all thanks to hard work, dedication, a bubbly personality… and a hefty helping of butter.

So, in honor of Giada, Ina, and Paula… I am going to post my semi-homemade recipe for the best triple-chocolate cupcakes in the world — which means you better get ready. These suckers are the most moist, indulgent cupcakes you could ever imagine… and they have a little kick to them as well. Expect proposals, ladies, because they’ll be coming!

Triple-Chocolate Pudding Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Ingredients:
One box Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix
Three Eggs (I prefer to use organic, but it’s up to you)
1/3 cup Canola Oil
8 oz Sour Cream
A dash each of Cinnamon, Chili Powder, and Vanilla Extract
One package sugar-free Jello Chocolate Pudding Mix
2 cups Milk (again, I like to use raw milk… but it’s your choice!)

1. Mix the cake mix with a good dash of cinnamon and chili powder — I recommend 5-7 shakes of each (I like to say that the addition of these adds a bit of complexity to the cake — just adjust until you get the right amount of “kick”!), then add in eggs, oil, and sour cream. Beat until a firm, slightly fluffy consistency.

2. Line your muffin tin with cupcake liners, the use an ice cream scoop to get the perfect amount of batter into each mold. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean).

3. In the meantime, whip up your pudding! 2 cups of cold milk mixed with one package of Jello pudding mix, blend with your hand mixer for 2 minutes, then place in the fridge to set.

4. Once your cupcakes have cooled slightly, take your knife (use a non-serrated cooking knife — a butter knife will not do the job here) and cut a circle around the top of the cupcake (see photograph below). Next, use a small spoon to scoop out the cake within the circle and cut off the bottom portion so that you have a lid-type piece of cake to cover the cavity you’ve made.

5. Grab the pudding from the fridge (it should be set by now) and place a good-sized spoonful into each cupcake — then replace the lid-piece you created earlier. Now it’s time to make some buttercream!

Chocolate Buttercream Icing:
2 softened sticks of Salted Butter
Powdered (Confectioner’s) Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
A dash of Milk

1. For the buttercream, first take your butter and whip it with your mixer until a smooth consistency — then add in your powdered sugar. Many recipes call for three cups of sugar, but I think that is way too much… so do it by taste!

2. Once your butter tastes sugary-sweet, you can add in your cocoa powder and vanilla. Keep mixing — but be aware that cocoa powder will go EVERYWHERE, so I recommend adding it in a little at a time.

3. Time for milk. You want your buttercream to easily pipe through the decorating tip, so have your milk handy and be prepared to add it just a bit at a time. Don’t let the icing get too runny — it needs to be firm enough to stay on the cupcake, but not too firm… you know how you like your icing!

4. It’s up to you how you ice these puppies. I use a Wilton No. 19 Open-Star Decorating Tip with my pastry bags and do a simple round-the-cupcake icing job — and it’s lovely!

Once you’ve iced your cupcakes, I recommend letting them sit for a few hours — these cupcakes taste BETTER with age because they have time to let the pudding sink in. Talk about delicious! I guarantee that with these, you will be the belle of the ball… so give it a go — and let me know when you do. 🙂

Advertisements