Waking up to the wet wet day that was yesterday, looking out of the window… for the first time after a long while, the Mumbai rains looked beautiful. We had been looking forward to watching the rains in our new house and the first sight of the day as I opened my eyes was the Bougainvillea, Jasmine and Raat ki raani that had burst into bloom.
The drenched windows, the ridiculously green plants, the brilliant colours of the flowers, the lazy morning and the out-of-bed-and-to-the-fridge trek for the newly made peanut butter-and-chocolate cupcakes reminded me of a time long ago. A day that taught me many important life lessons.. and opened my eyes to the magic of chocolate-and-peanut butter.
In lovely old Auroville, in a time long long ago, foodhardy as ever… the greediness that rules me decided that a rainy day was the best time to forage for cookies. That this was probably the wettest day that Auroville had seen in many a year and the first Auroville monsoon we had seen didn’t seem to be problem. What ensued was what any sane person would call normal. The rain gods poured it down on us, the muddy Auroville roads turned into rivers of slurry and our rented mopeds with our very very unskilled-at-riding selves were stuck..for good or atleast so it seemed at that time. After a few of hours of chilling (and I mean that very literally) in the rain and pushing our useless mopeds through slush, our teeth chattering, skin wrinkled, hair stringy and clothes plastered on, we dragged ourselves back into the guest house having barely survived the day. I still remember that evening as the coldest I ever felt. Back in our guest house, under mountains of quilts, wearing all the clothes we had on us (and some) we rummaged for what we could put between our teeth that would stop it from chattering. You see we were worried that our teeth would fall out if something wasn’t done immediately. It was a medical emergency. We had no option but to eat up everything in sight. And so the magic of peanut butter and chocolate entered my life….changing something inside me..forever.
The universe taught me 3 important lessons that day –
Lesson 1# The wet cold is the worst. It enters your pores, gets under your skin, penetrates your bones and is a bitch to evict. And that’s where the phrase ‘bone-chilling’ comes from.
Lesson 2# Mopeds cave in, don’t do so well in slush. Hopping out on them on a wet day in a muddy terrain – not a great idea.
Lesson 3# Every cloud has a peanut-butter-chocolate lining. And it’s very very sweet.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes (makes about 18)
Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen
If peanut butter isn’t your thing, you might as well not bother with this but if you do belong to the cult, please do make these. These peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes are very very rich and though the chocolate flavour isn’t too pronounced, the delicate balance that the chocolate and peanut butter flavours need for the combination to work, is spot on. The cake itself is a great one and I am planning to use this for many other cupcakes but the rich, creamy, tangy frosting is what gives this concoction its unique character. Give it a shot..its easier than you think, I promise.
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1/2 cup curd
3/4 cups water
1 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter the bottoms and sides of 18 cupcake pans. Line each pan with muffin liners and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and curd and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
4. To frost the cake, spread the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Let cool in the fridge for atleast half an hour and drizzle with the glaze.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 2.5 cups
125 grams cream cheese, at room temperature (I have discovered that you could even substitute hung curd for this. The curd you use needs to be whole milk and preferably homemade)
100 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1.5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter drizzle
75 gm dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tsp smooth peanut butter
1. Melt chocolate in a microwave on medium. Make sure the bowl you use has absolutely no moisture in it. Keep removing the bowl at 15 second intervals and poking the chocolate to see if it is softened. When softened, stir through with a fork till smooth. Stir in the peanut butter.