There’s this phenomenon–I can’t really explain it–by which I suddenly become seized with the desire to make cupcakes, on an otherwise ordinary day. There is no rhyme or reason to it, but dang, when my mind decides it wants cupcakes, there’s no changing it.

For the most part, I give into my urge by buying this and this (only the rainbow chip frosting will d0) and within 20 minutes I am hearkening back to the childhood I never had because my mom was one of those annoying moms who only made from-scratch baked goods.

But this past week, I decided to grab heart disease by the horns and try a new recipe from a cookbook my roommate gave me for Christmas: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, by Jill O’Connor.

And no, that jar of Hellman’s in the picture isn’t leftover from making turkey sandwiches. That’s the essential ingredient in these delicious chocolate cupcakes. Quite an easy recipe (below) that results in these simple, spongy little chocolate cakes, just ready to be slathered with the accompanying Caramel-Butterscotch Buttercream Frosting. You’d think a cupcake with mayonnaise in it wouldn’t be able to handle such rich icing, but on the contrary, they are so simple and un-rich that they need something wildly out of control on top.

Once my cupcakes were in the oven, I decided to tackle this obscenity. I’m glad I had nothing pressing in my evening, because I was quite unprepared for the hour-long jaunt I had with this recipe. To give you an idea of its ingredients, I’ll tell you that Monday morning my refrigerator housed:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

6 eggs

6 sticks of butter

Monday night, the inside of my refrigerator saw:

-none of the above.

It was quite the ordeal, this Caramel-Butterscotch Buttercream. I made caramel. It seized up because I didn’t pour in the cream in one fell swoop. I double-boiled an egg and sugar mixture, while beating with a hand beater for 10 minutes. Then, I did this with the six. sticks. of. butter…

…and dropped this plastic-wrapped-rolled-out butter tablespoon by tablespoon into the sugar/egg mixture. And, unfortunately, it never really came together too well. It got grainy and in defiance of what the cookbook promised, it never de-curdled. I mean, don’t get me wrong, nothing with that much butter, sugar, eggs, and cream ever tastes bad, but I wasn’t impressed with the texture or the way the recipe was put together.

So, at the end of the night, my cupcake craving was satisfied. The rest of my dinner wasn’t very glamorous, or nutritious (Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice is delicious, though) but the dessert was worth the two hours it took, I’d say… although next time I’m just going to Schnucks and buying the mix.

Chocolate-Mayonnaise Cupcakes

From Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

2 cups bleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cup natural cocoa powder (I am embarrassed to say that I only had 1/2 cup. That upset me, and then I realized I have 2 boxes of Swiss Miss packets left over from a Christmas party thrown last year in college, and I threw it in there. It worked fine)

1 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup mayonnaise (the cookbook says NOT low-fat. I think this goes without saying. If you are putting mayo in cupcakes, hell, use the real stuff)

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350, line two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, sift together first four ingredients.

In another bowl, combine the sugar and eggs and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Beat in mayo and vanilla until just combined. Reduce the speed tomedium and beat in half the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add half the boiling water and beat at very low speed until batter is smooth, 5-10 seconds (yes. This is what the recipe says. However, I beat it for 15 seconds and the world kept turning). Add remaining flour and beat 5-10 seconds (ditto). Add remaining water. The batter will be thin, very thin actually. You might panic, like I did. But don’t, it works.

Fill the cupcake tins, bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18-22 minutes. Cool, frost, take a few aspirin.

*I am not including the recipe for the frosting. I am going to try another “true” buttercream one day (not the butter/powdered sugar/milk kind that everyone makes) and then I’ll tell you about it.

The best part about this whole story is that, despite eating many of the above, me, my roommate, and many of my friends are still alive, tickers ticking. Hallelujah.

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