why court disaster

Sometimes I think the best cooking projects come from realizing certain ingredients are about to go bad. So when I came back from Texas and saw that my milk had a matter of days left in it, I had two choices: one, go to Safeway and buy Oreos, or two, make something. And as tempting as that first option is, I really don't need to eat an entire package of Oreos.

Then, of course, the question was: what to make? It was Saturday morning, before the supermarket, before I was heading over to hang out with friends. I figured cookies would be good, something small and easily transportable. Which is when I realized I still had mini baking cups from the
peanut butter cups.

I thought, maybe I would try my hand at chocolate cake again, but in tiny cupcake form. But then again, why court disaster? I knew exactly what I would do: make my go-to cake, but fill up these tiny baking cups. More easily transported than a whole cake, and with the benefit of no one having to commit to a whole slice of cake! Perfect. I traipsed off to the supermarket, and then set to work.

I've talked about
cake before - and this cake, specifically. It's become my go-to cake, one that I barely need to look at the recipe for, one that I know will come out perfectly, one that I often bring over to the houses of friends. This cake works well both as dessert and as breakfast. I leave it unfrosted, because honestly this cake does not need frosting. (Daniel is always trying to get me to make some sort of almond icing for it. I might try that one of these days.)

So I made up the dough, filled dozens of cups, and slipped them into the oven. They found a nice little home in a basket I had sitting around, coupled with a dishcloth to guard against the cold. It was pretty much the most adorable thing. Once we arrived at our destination, the cupcakes were pretty much decimated. Something about making that cake bite-sized turned it irresistible. I got my first "you should sell these!" comment, which was pretty flattering.

Busy-Day Cupcakes
adapted from Orangette

These are perfect to bring to a party, or a potluck, or any place where a group of people will be hanging out. When I brought these to my friends, they couldn't help gobbling them up, creating little mountains of wrappers next to them.

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp.
1 1/3 c. sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 shakes cinnamon
1/2 c. whole milk, room temp.

Preheat oven to 375°F. If you like to be prepared, go ahead and cover a baking sheet with mini baking cups.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. If you are doing this by hand with a wooden spoon (which I recommend, though it is more work) and it is a little nubbly with butter, that's okay. You'll be doing more blending and whatever butter nubbins are left will melt when baked. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla extract and blend.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Add about a fourth of the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until blended. Add a third of the milk and blend. Repeat three times, so it'll go: flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.

Spoon the batter into the baking cups and put into the oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes.

These are best warm, but if you manage to have some leftovers, they'll keep for a few days at room temperature, and make a delicious breakfast.