THIRTY TWO YEARS!
Sometimes it feels like I’m 22, bent over on rolls of tracing paper at my college drafting board, wondering when I’ll hear the roar of motorcycle engines outside, signalling the possibility of a midnight mini road-trip.
Sometimes it feels like I’m 42, bent out of shape, exhausted and wondering when they’re going to invent a bed that will be able to swallow me whole.
But I turned 32, almost a fortnight ago now.
I feel like I have to whisper it, lest it sets off people into asking me if I’m married or if I have children.
I’m not. And I don’t.
Does it feel weird?
Yes and no.
Yes, because when I was younger, much younger, I had imagined – not in too many details – my life to be somewhat different. Maybe a little more accomplished, a little thinner. With a toddler by my knees and a one-off house in Devonshire.
No, because it has been a roller-coaster ride so far and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. Accomplishments have come, gone and come again. I could be much thinner. There are no toddlers around, but there’s calm and stillness, a complete command over my own life. I don’t wake up to wet nappies, I wake up to chocolate cupcakes.
There are family members who have been my biggest supporters. And I am grateful for that. There are friends who have blindly followed me into the unknown. And I’m grateful for their trust. There’s work, old and new, that makes me jump out of bed every morning. I’m in the danger of sounding like an Academy Award Winner, but I couldn’t ask for more.
To be honest, I shamefully ask for more everyday, on account of being a greedy human being. But I’m content now. And I know there aren’t many people in this world who can declare that easily.
Somewhere in the last two weeks, I’ve heard blatant praise about me and my work.
Sometime they whispered it to each other and other times they said it to my face. Behind a gracious smile, I’ve only wished that I have the strength and motivation to keep all of it up for the next year. At least.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Butterscotch Glaze
I’m a big fan of anything chocolate with anything salted caramel. This is a deviation from the regular cocoa brownies that always seem to push their way into existence on every birthday of mine. But this recipe is more about the glaze than the cupcake. The glaze is your typical caramel made creamier with the addition of butter. A smattering of salt and you have a sharp hit of salt against the bittersweet of caramel and chocolate.
Ingredients for the cupcake
- 1 + 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup natural cocoa (not Dutch process)
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 tablespoon of instant coffee powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup cooking oil (something odorless and colorless, like canola or sunflower, etc)
- 1/2 cup yogurt, well-stirred (homemade is best, but Greek will do)
- 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
Ingredients for the glaze
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 100 gm of butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 1 cup of single cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons of sea salt
How-to make the cupcakes
- Prep your cupcake tins and pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.
- Put flour, cocoa, baking powder, coffee and salt in a medium-bowl and mix well with a fork.
- In a large bowl, mix eggs, oil, yogurt and sugar and whip till the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir till just combined. Don’t over-mix the batter.
- Spoon into cupcake molds/tins and bake for 20-25 minutes till a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Make about 12 regular cupcakes.
How-to make the glaze
- In a metal pan with a flat base (avoid using non-stick pans with caramel. Always use either stainless steel, aluminum or copper-bottomed pans), spread the sugar evenly and drop the butter cubes in a random scatter.
- Put the pan on high heat and keep a careful watch. Do not stir after the pan has been put on heat. Once the sugar starts to turns to sweat or turns amber in color, gently swirl the pan to redistribute the caramel. Do not stir.
- When all of the sugar is a deep golden or caramel color, pour in the cream and stand back! The cream will bubble and sputter violently and it might seem like everything is curdling. It’s not.
- Once the bubbling gentles down, take the pan off heat, stir with a metal spoon and ensure there are no lumps.
- Let cool completely before sprinkling sea salt in it. Mix well.
- Spoon over cooled cupcakes and garnish with grated chocolate or sea salt. Best to refrigerate the glazed cupcakes at least an hour before serving.