the devil made me do it

When I was about five years old I had a white tee shirt with a navy neckband that read,” The devil made me do it!” in semi-permanent, heat press sparkle. I got it from one of those beachside, boardwalk shacks where you pick out the shirt, select the art and watch your motto get melted smack onto your new T-shirt.

That’s what I have to say about these mini Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

…the devil made me do it!

These mini cupcakes are feather-light and have a subtle chocolate taste. The frosting is simple, silky, sweet.

Here’s another thing I had when I was five: a mother who could cook, bake, concoct confections and copy dishes she tried in restaurants. My mother was the best cook in the neighborhood. She lit desserts on fire at tableside and eventually mastered flaming steaks. Neighbors, relatives and friends asked for her recipes every time she hosted a dinner party or brought a bubbling casserole to a potluck.

My mom liked being the best so much that when people asked for her recipes she left out a thing or two. Teaspoons and tablespoons got mixed up. Baking powder became baking soda. Maybe the sugar and salt somehow got the switcheroo. We know who to blame, right?

Devil. Made me. This much is clear.

I didn’t get any special treatment for being related to the reigning queen of flaming baked Alaskas when it came to getting correct recipes. My mother did not believe in just handing you her hard-won secrets. She expected you to know some things about cooking or look it up, figure it out for cryin’ out loud.  She did, however, teach me some basic techniques when I was about five and probably wearing my devil made me do it tee shirt. Here they are:

Scoop and sweep when you measure flour. Mom kept flour in a big, red, UTZ’s potato chip can. I store flour in a large plastic bin with a snap-shut lid. The idea is to have a sizable container so you can easily plunge a metal measuring cup in and scoop up a fluffy cup of flour. Next take a knife and sweep it across the top of the measuring cup so that the flour is level to the top edge. Level is level and nothing else. Make it level.

scoop flour sweep flour

When you measure baking soda use the edge of the cardboard box to level the soda you just scooped up. Think mini scoop and sweep and make it level.

measuring baking soda

When you measure baking powder use the straight edge of the lid to level the powder. That’s why there’s a straight edge built into the top of the container. Make it level for cryin’ out loud.

leveling baking powder

Folding batter means mix gently with broad strokes. Basically you take a spatula or spoon and scoop through the batter bringing the bottom to the top till the ingredients are just combined. Don’t keep on keepin’-on once the ingredients are acquainted. Overmixing can change the texture and mess up the lightness of a baked good. Resist overmixing.

Well…that’s it. That’s what my mama taught me. I realize now that her penchant for giving  inaccurate renditions of recipes was also a lesson regardless of whether it was intended to be one. Since I was wary of any recipe I finally cajoled from her I began looking things up, comparing amounts, thinking about the chemistry and balance of what I wanted to make.

Here’s my recipe for mini Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting in honor of tee shirt shacks, Halloween and devilishly strong women who teach themselves to do the things they want to do…for cryin’ out loud.

p.s. Nothing is left out or switcheroo-ed in my recipe.

devils food cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting

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5 Responses to the devil made me do it

  1. Christine says:

    Devil made me do it. ~giggle~

    Great recipe. Mouthwatering.

  2. Looks delicious! The devil makes me do many things. :-p So, hey no I don’t think I’m going to the FB festival this year. I was actually just in CA yesterday to visit family. Are you going?

  3. I used to work in an airbrush t-shirt shop and the artist got a lot of his ideas from his grandmother.. I remember one of them to be a dolphin with wings. He made a lot of neat designs.

    Anyhow, devils food is such a great classic. Your cupcakes look like they have a big topper-I am all in favor of that. The grated chocolate on top is a nice touch. Yum!

  4. Molly Van Weinerdawg says:

    Remember that thing she made with big potato skins lining a GIANT bowl filled with a ground beef/cheese mixture?? Anytime she comes to mind I get an instant flashback of one of those bowl-fulls of delight. I have always meant to replicate that and maybe this will be the season of trying. I think it was a layered thing, beef, olives, tomatoes, etc – and the cheese perfectly melted on top. Damn.

    • fatpig says:

      Oh man…yes! She could turn out some awesome comfort food. I’ll visit you when you replicate it!