I've Been Baking
Do you remember that episode of Gray’s Anatomy when Izzie’s terminally ill boyfriend dies, which sends her into a craze where she bakes muffins all day every day for about a week in order to cope? OK, I’m not quite there, but I’ve been baking a lot–brownies, cookies, zucchini bread, muffins, and these amazing black bottom cupcakes (recipe to follow) that I turn to now and then when things aren’t going so well. Truth is, nobody’s dying here. Everyone’s healthy, we have jobs (and frankly, I have too much work). And we have a roof over our heads–a nice roof, which covers a pretty darn nice house (time to be grateful!). But you know when you dream a big dream and it doesn’t pan out the way you hoped? It’s tough.
I’m talking about our house sale, which is looking more and more like it’s not meant to be. We still have a little more time before our contract runs out on the Bainbridge Island dream house (and it truly is a dream house, which makes me sniffle a little more as I type here), so I won’t get all Negative Nancy just yet. Even still, all signs have been pointing to a big fat NO. The Seattle real estate market seems to be dead. Lifeless. An absolute ghost town. (P.S. We’ve gotten some interest, but only from people who seem to want the Deal Of The Century. “Will you accept our offer for $200,000 less than you’re asking?” Um, no.)
Maybe it’s not our time? Maybe God is looking out for us in ways we can’t anticipate? Maybe we’re meant to live a little simpler right now (I mean, heck, Jason could lose his job and my hands could become paralyzed and unable to type, and we could live comfortably in this house for years and years on our reserves). I guess that’s a good thing, right?
So we will take a deep breath, and count our blessings, and wait. And if this deal doesn’t come together, we will reset. And maybe buy some new couches, and a coffee table, and recarpet the upstairs. And I will bake some more cupcakes.
Black Bottom Cupcakes
¾ package of an 8-ounce cream cheese package, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
¼ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the filling, mix together the sugar, egg, vanilla and cream cheese in a mixer until smooth. Mix in the chocolate chips and set aside. To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin cups. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Using your hands, make a “well” in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients in. Lightly mix the two together with a spatula until the mixture is well combined, but not overmixed. Using an ice scream scoop, or a spoon, divide the batter amongst all 12 cupcakes. Then, spoon a dollop of the cream-cheese filling on top of each, pushing the spoon down a bit to make sure the filling gets into the center of each cupcake. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes look just golden brown. The center should have a soft, gooey texture, so don’t overcook! These store well for up to three days in an airtight container.