Today is a big day! It's officially been one year since I launched kickassbaker.com. Happy Blog-iversary!! I am beyond excited to be at this point in time.
My goal from the beginning was to launch a blog and share my recipes with other home bakers. That's it. Nothing lofty or crazy.
Of course, I am interested in growing it and perhaps making some money. However, I realized that success for me is in sharing what I love to do with others.
And teaching them tips I've learned along the way. That's what feels best to me and drives the most satisfaction for me. And, this realization about what success looks like for me has been so profound and carried over into other areas of my life.
PS You'll see how these Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes tie into my blog anniversary post shortly!
Appreciating the gift of time
The one year anniversary of when I launched my blog just so happens to coincide with my going back to work full-time after having been off for a year and a half.
A year and a half! It's crazy that it's been that long. If you read my very first blog post, you'll remember that I left my job back in October 2017 and decided to take a few months off. Well, a few months inadvertently turned into 18 months.
It's been quite an adventure, one for which I am so very grateful. And, because of that, I am commemorating my one year blog-iversary (yes that's a word) and my going back to work full-time with a look back at all that I've accomplished during that time.
This has been a really fun exercise for me to conduct, has given me such perspective on this time and its meaning to me. I hope it resonates with you in some way.
Looking back has given me a sense of closure but more importantly, appreciation. Appreciation for the gift of time and for the person I've become having experienced it.
A look back at What I've done with my time off from corporate
This list is in no particular order and may not even be complete. I wanted to share the highlights and lowlights and everyday life that has been meaningful to me during this time.
- Started a blog called kickassbaker.com
- Wrote and shared 53 blog posts and recipes
- Gained 600+ followers on Instagram
- Spent time with my sisters and my mom during the middle of week
- Got to see a spur of the moment Broadway matinee on a Wednesday with my mom
- Started my daughter on a clinical trial for her peanut allergy
- Watched my daughter eat her first peanut M&M and Reese's Pieces after finishing her clinical trial
- Had breakfast and lunch with friends midweek
- Joined a knitting group on Friday mornings
- Got both my daughters to maintenance for their seasonal allergy shots and watched their symptoms drastically reduce this Spring
- Went grocery shopping on Mondays
- Took midweek trips to the pool and beach during the summer
- Spent a lot of time driving back and forth to gymnastics practice and chatting in the parking lot with my fellow gym moms
- Got my kids on the bus every morning and off of it every afternoon
- Listened to many audiobooks during the day, at home, without headphones on
- Spent more time alone than ever before
- Learned to appreciate my time alone and make the most of it
- Sent out thousands of copies of my resume
- Interviewed more times than I'd like to remember
- Cried and felt desperate
- Been inspired by and thankful for my good friends and family who reminded me that I have value when others didn't see it
- Cleaned my house
- Took morning naps after my kids got on the bus in the morning
- Lost 20 pounds
- Gained 20+ pounds
- Established my first sourdough starter
- When my sister called and asked "Do you have a minute?" I got to respond "I have all the time in the world"
- Taught for a semester at my alma mater
- Volunteered at a soup kitchen
- Became a board member of a professional association
- Made well over $1000 selling clothes on Poshmark and toys on Facebook Marketplace
- Picked up my first real DSLR camera and started my journey of learning food photography
- Discovered a whole world of food blogging I never knew before
- Made lots of friends in the food blogging and food photography community online
- Managed our family budget (ugh)
- Spent lots of time in physical therapy for my hip (yes, my hip. Apparently I'm that old)
- Delighted as people I know and don't know made and enjoyed my recipes
As I spent the past year and half not working at my usual corporate job, I've spent a lot of time thinking about my level of ambition.
You see, I've always considered myself someone with high ambition. To me, this manifested itself in doing more at work, getting more promotions, more money, more recognition, more people working for me, bigger projects, more exposure.
And, it also meant accomplishing more at home while climbing higher at work. Cooking more meals, making sure the house was always clean, putting the kids in more activities.
And the ultimate recognition for me was when people would say "I just don't know how you do it all!"
As I'm about to step back into full-time work, I've decided to take a job at a company I love (one I've worked for previously) but at a much lower level than I occupied before.
I'm doing this for lots of reasons, the most important of which is I want to spend more time at home with my family and not spend all my time at or consumed by work. In taking this position, I've questioned my own level of ambition. Am I still the same person? Do I have the same drive? Does this mean I am less than I was previously?
What I've realized is the answer is no, I still have the same level of ambition as I did previously. That ambition has just shifted focus. I'm still as ambitious about my family and making the best life for us, however, that looks very different than it did before.
Whereas I was looking for others' approval externally by doing what I was doing, I am now much more inwardly focused on how satisfied I am with my life and what I have to give to others around me. The value I bring isn't in my job title or pay grade.
The value I bring is in how I interact with others and share my knowledge and skills to make things better, whether that's at work, in the kitchen, or for my kids.
Inspiration for these Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes
Phew! Now that I've gotten the really deep stuff off my chest, of course I wanted to share a recipe that ties into this celebratory post in a meaningful way.
I love the stories behind recipes and the emotional aspect of food. For me it makes baking, sharing my recipes, and, of course, eating much more of an experience from beginning to end.
And, this is why I love baking - it delivers joy and creates lasting memories.
Several years ago I got into listening to audiobooks during my commute to work. And I fell in love with it! Something about listening to a narrator read to me makes the experience of consuming books so enjoyable.
I have listened to countless audiobooks and cannot get enough of them. (If you want any recommendations or have any for me, drop me a note!)
The very first audiobook I listened to was Andie Mitchell's memoir It Was Me All Along. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it! Listening to it on audio is even better.
I have a real thing for memoirs, but more so for memoirs that are narrated by the author themselves. Hearing someone tell their own story, in their own words, with their own voice is really powerful.
And, Andie Mitchell does this so well. Her book is about her journey and relationship with food and her body through childhood and into adulthood. This I could relate to!
One aspect I really loved about Andie's book was that it began and ended with her story and recipe for Sour Cream Fudge Cake.
She weaves in the meaning of this cake to her and her journey so beautifully. This had such an impact on me. I have been baking this cake ever since and it is one of my most requested recipes!
Here, I've made her Sour Cream Fudge Cake into cupcakes and substituted cream cheese frosting for Andie's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, which is also phenomenal. But I know if you topped them with Oreo frosting, you wouldn't be sad either.
Tips for Making This Recipe
- Read Andie Mitchell's book. These Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes will taste even better knowing their origin and meaning!
- Use the highest quality cocoa you can find. The richness will be reflected in the finished product. I like to use Guittard's Chocolate Cocoa Rogue Cocoa Powder. This is not sponsored, I just really like the taste and reddish color it produces in the final cupcake
- Be sure to use freshly brewed hot coffee or even espresso for this recipe. I promise, the cupcakes will not taste like coffee. Chocolate and coffee play really well together in baking. The coffee elevates the flavor of the chocolate to a new level and creates a uniquely rich flavor
- You can substitute full-fat plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream in this recipe. The yogurt will add a slight tang to the cupcake. And it'll enhance the moisture level just like the sour cream
Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup brewed coffee hot
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese brick-style, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
Make the Cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners or place paper cupcake cups on a sheet tray and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, coffee, sour cream, and vanilla to make a shiny fudge. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and shiny, about 2-3 minutes. Add the granulated and brown sugars and continue beating until fluffy, and then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the fudge mixture, scraping down the bowl several times as you go. Divide the batter between the cupcake liners and bake for 28 - 30 mins. A toothpick inserted into the center of the middle cupcake should come out clean when they are done. If there's batter on the toothpick, continue baking for a few minutes more until it comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Make the Frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium to high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in vanilla and salt and mix well to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until completely combined and no dry spots are left. Frost cooled cupcakes.
- Frosted cupcakes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week
- Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature before frosting
- Unused frosting should be stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using. If the frosting looks to be separated or lumpy, mix briskly with a spoon or with a handheld mixer for a minute or two
- Recipe inspired by and adapted from Andie Mitchell's memoir It Was Me All Along