Oh that stupid, stupid, moment!
Being one step ahead of my fingers, my brain began to shout, “ABORT! ABORT!” but my dopey digits continued to run the all-too-thin wad of paper towel over a very brand new knife blade. The brain cursed the finger, as both processed the immediate flow of blood.
For a brief instant, there was no pain. I wadded paper towel around my now gory finger, and for one blissful moment of denial, the cut was out of sight and out of mind. However, the paper towel quickly failed to belie the wound. I shall stop here with knife-on-flesh details, lest you become as ghostly white and nauseous as I later did.
There’s nothing like an injury, even something as minuscule as a paper cut or a sore muscle, to cause one to appreciate loss- the loss of feeling, mobility, independence. I am fully aware my ridiculous, gauzed mummy finger is hardly anything on the scale of loss, but it did make me pause and think just how lucky I am.
My one stupid moment could have caused major, lasting damage. Or worse, what if I were so unfortunate as to need surgery at this moment in my life? Learning to type with 9 fingers and avoid shaking hands is hardly a setback, but nonetheless, my bloody finger pointed to all I had been taking for granted.
But alas, we humans, or at least yours truly, all too frequently take too much for granted, never appreciating the tip of the finger until it’s hacked. And THIS, is where my bloody finger becomes relevant to cupcakes. There is a connection!
As the Creative Director for the 10th Annual CMU International Film Festival, I found myself passionately working day and night to bring together countless details. The film festival fulfills me in so many ways, but being the marathon that it is, it also requires me to shut off several other elements of my life. For months, I skipped holidays, barely made birthdays and tethered myself to my desk.
For the most part, the intensity only amplified me, but as we neared the third week, burn out loomed, and what I found missing the most was my oven and this blog. With The Grains has always been such an extension of me. To ignore this corner, my corner, of the web left me throbbing as much as my finger after the knife wound. I had taken this space and the comforts of baking for granted, so I carved out time I didn’t have but needed.
I measured, I whisked, I pureed, and I truly appreciated the simple joys of transforming ingredients into a sweet moment to savor. I appreciated how much I appreciate baking and sharing, both physically and digitally. As a person whose passions and interests are often sporadic (a multipotentialite if you will), the longevity of this space comforted me even more. It took feeling completely cut off from baking and blogging to realize how integral they are to my wellbeing.
Maybe you feel similarly, so here’s to the calming side of baking and the comforting corners we create for ourselves!
Roasted Beet Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Raw Cacao
adapted from Minimalist Baker
Yield: ~20 cupcakes
About this recipe: Rich, chocolatey, vegan cupcakes with pureed roasted beets and a dusting of raw cacao for a healthier sweet indulgence. Beet haters (those crazies!) won’t even know there is a root veggie lurking in their dessert!
Roasted Beets Ingredients
1-2 Tablespoons coconut oil for pan
4 medium beets, peeled & scrubbed
2 cups organic coconut milk (full-fat)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups + 2 Tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups raw turbinado sugar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Raw cacao powder for dusting
For the Roasted Beets:
Note: The beets can be roasted and pureed ahead of time.
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Melt the coconut oil in a cast-iron skillet or baking dish. Transfer the beets to the skillet. Roast for 50-60 minutes. Check the beets approximately every 20 minutes. If they start to look dry or are scorching on the bottoms, add more coconut oil to the skillet and/or dribble a tablespoon of water over the beets. Beets are done when a fork or skewer slides easily to the middle of the beet. Small beets will cook more quickly than large beets.
Once cooled, puree the beets in a food processor until smooth. The puree should be close to 1 cup. Reserve any extras for other uses (add to a smoothie, a sandwich or stir into hummus).
For the Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a sifter and slowly sift it into the wet ingredients while mixing with a hand-held or standing mixer. Beat until no large lumps remain.
In a small-medium glass bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the coconut milk mixture with the sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and 1 cup beet puree. Beat until foamy.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until incorporated.
Pour batter into liners, filling 3/4 of the way full.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Do not try and unwrap them or they’ll stick to the wrapper.
Once cooled, dust with raw cacao powder and store in an airtight container to keep fresh.