I don’t like to share. I especially don’t like sharing food. And I most specifically don’t like sharing dessert. Years ago a friend invited me to join her and her parents for dinner. When the waiter brought over our meals these otherwise reserved and somewhat fancy folk began lunging at each other with their forks and taking bites off one another’s plates and “Oh, let me try!” And “This is so good. Here, take a bite!” and “Taste, taste.” I felt like I had to throw myself over my plate to ward off the savages. And protect my rigatoni Bolognese.
I understand that for most people a little bite of everything is the preferred method of meal taking. And I agree, when the dish is designed that way. Sure, sharing a Pu-Pu platter or an assortment of antipasti makes sense. But when we’re talking thought through and full entrees? No thank you. If I had wanted the striped bass I would have ordered it myself. Now, keep your mitts off my plate.
Rich, my frequent dining partner, has the habit of asking me what I am ordering right as the waiter comes to the table. I usually say, “It doesn’t matter what I’m getting but, if you must know, I’m getting the salmon.” “The salmon?! But I want the salmon. We can’t get the same thing!” “Why not?” I argue. “Why can’t we both have what we want?” And thus begins the negotiation which ends with me giving up and in and ordering something else just because the waiter is waiting and I’m hopeful this won’t be my last meal so who really cares.
I once dated a guy who had a house with an outdoor grill. One night for dinner he wanted turf and I wanted surf so we bought a piece of each. While doing the post-meal dishes he seemed sulky and when I asked him what was up he said, “I’m a little surprised you didn’t offer me any of your tuna.” Talk about a test--who does that? Frankly, it hadn’t occurred to me. Then again he is the same guy who said, when we broke up, “Miranda, I need someone who’s going to wake me up in the morning and say ‘Let’s run a 5K, let’s ski double blacks.’” Which begs the question; are you looking for a girlfriend or a personal trainer? Clearly he had bigger problems than wanting to be fed a bite of fish.
The thing is I wasn't raised in a "family style" kind of family. Not to say we were stingy or selfish, just that we never ordered in Chinese food. So I think that “you- have-to-taste-the-sesame-noodles-can-you-pass-the-General-Tsao’s-chicken” kind of eating just isn’t in my blood. I also have a younger brother who could put away our bag of Brussels before I’d even poured my glass of milk and had the habit of honing in on the best bite of my piece of pecan pie just as the ice cream was melting into the grooves of pecans. I think it is natural that I feel compelled to defend my dessert.
I once had a roommate with an eating disorder in that she ate everything in the house that wasn’t hers and nothing that was. I’m embarrassed to say it got to the point where I was hiding my Mallomars in my underwear drawer.
What I have learned over the years is that there are certain sweets that come with a built in “all mine” feature. For example, you would never ask someone for a lick of her ice cream cone. Even a bite of crème brulee, in its own little ramekin, is less likely to evoke “may I?” than a bowl of chocolate mousse. And you would never order a cupcake “for the table.” (I hate ordering a dessert for the table by the way--there is never enough for me.) Cupcakes are the definitive dessert for one.
This recipe is one I found years ago when searching for something that captured the spirit of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, my sister’s favorite candy. I make these every year on her birthday. She can eat the whole thing without intrusion and can decide for herself if and with whom she wants to share the rest. She’s smart enough to share with the chef.
All Yours Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes
adapted from Bobby Flay/The Food Network
Printer Friendly Version
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strong, hot coffee
Ingredients--Peanut Butter Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
Set rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
Line two 12 slot muffin pans with paper or foil cupcake liners.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together 3 times.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together at high speed for 15 seconds until combined.
Add the eggs 1 at a time beating until each is incorporated.
Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes longer.
With the mixer at its lowest speed, beat in 1/3 the flour mixture. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla, then another third of the flour. Beat in the coffee and then the remaining flour.
Fill the sections of the muffin tin 1/2 full.
Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the centers spring back when lightly pressed.
Set pan on a rack to cool.
Directions--Peanut Butter Buttercream Filling
Beat the butter and peanut butter at medium speed in a mixing bowl until blended.
Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar.
Increase speed to high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes until smooth and fluffy. (It will become much lighter in color.)
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium, plain tip with filling.
Insert tip into each cooled cupcake and squeeze approximately 2 tablespoons of filling into each cupcake. (I usually count to 4 seconds while squeezing pastry bag.)
Place chocolate in a medium bowl.
Bring the cream to a scald in a small saucepan.
Pour cream over chocolate and let sit 1 minute, then whisk until smooth.
Let sit for 10 minutes until thick, but still pourable.
Dunk the top half of the cupcakes into the frosting to coat. Transfer to the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set.
Yield: 20 cupcakes