Tag Archives: Cupcakes

Recipes – Dauntless Chocolate Cake

“At the end of the hallway she turns and says, ‘Have a piece of cake for me all right? The chocolate. It’s delicious.’”

Anyone who pays close attention to food mentioned in books will definitely have made a note of the Chocolate Cake that is the “official” food of those belonging to the Dauntless faction in Veronica Roth’s Divergent. There are a number of recipes out there on the web, but I was curious about the recipe from the “Unofficial Divergent Cookbook,” by Megan Parker.

There’s a link to the book here, but I decided to buy the cookbook for 99 cents on my Kindle. I was somewhat disappointed to find that the recipe was fairly simple. It looks like a perfectly respectable chocolate cake, but nothing really makes it special; there is nothing Daunting about it.

So I decided it needed a little something. The first thing that came to mind was that the cake needed a bit of a kick, something unexpected, something spicy. I did a quick search for chocolate cake inspired by Mexican drinking chocolate and came across a number of recipes that were spiced with cinnamon or cayenne pepper. I also liked the idea of having a very rich, or moist Devil’s food cake, and did some experimenting with different levels of butter, and cocoa.

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“’Let’s go to the cafeteria,’ Will says, ‘and eat cake.’”

Lacking an occasion to serve a cake I made a small batch of cupcakes as a portable, easy to store treat. Hopefully I captured the essence of the Dauntless and especially Triss’ spirit with these cupcakes and that you all enjoy them as well.

This recipe only makes six cupcakes but you can easily double, or triple the recipe.

½ all purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
1 egg
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch process Cocoa Powder
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons boiling water
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less depending on taste)
3 tablespoons milk (or water if lactose)

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
  2. Mix dry ingredients (flou, cocia powder, baking soda, sugar, and spices) together in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the egg, oil, water, vanilla, and milk
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and divide batter between six cupcake liners in a muffin tin.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

For the icing I bought a can of chocolate icing and added ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. A recipe for the same kind of icing made from scratch can be found here.

David Sax – The Tastemakers (2014)

TastemakersI have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with food writing. I love to eat, and I love to read so for me, books like this are really the best of both worlds. I loved this book, not just because it was informative, well written, and so interesting to read, but because David Sax is from Toronto (Shout out to Amaya for trying to rise above the notion that Indian Food is only good for cheap-take out). It’s always fun to read about places that you actually recognize, especially in a book about food trends where a majority of the focus might be on places like New York and LA.

Sax takes the reader on a journey through the life of food trends, how they are born, why some catch on more than others, the factors involved with making a food trend, the money, the politics, and eventually the death of trends. He interviews people who predict trends, food writes, chefs, and heads of corporations like Whole Foods to gain a better understanding of how food trends work.

He starts by introducing us to cupcakes, and the rise of “cupcakeries,” which everyone will be familiar with. Taking off after 9/11 he mentions that the cupcake boom was due to the American search for comfort and safety after the attacks on New York, and what could possibly be safer than a cupcake? Cupcakes also became tied to a certain type of lifestyle after “Magnolia” appeared in an episode of Sex and the City. He talks to a cultivator of exotic Black Rice and a family growing Red Prince Apples in Ontario discussing the risks involved with trying to start an agricultural trend, (an entire species can be wiped out due to mother nature). He also profiles the popularity of chia seeds and how health fads come and go.

When looking at how food trends break out, Sax takes us to the Fancy Food show, a trade show that I would love to attend, and sits in on focus group meetings for marketing and naming new products. (Canola oil was originally called Rapeseed oil before everyone realized that it would never sell with a name like that). He then looks at the importance of food trends such as how food trends have the power to open people’s minds to different cultures, affect legislative change, and of course money, using the popularity of Bacon as an example for how that food trend has entirely reshaped the market for pork bellies.

All through Sax’s writing it becomes clear that food trends are a relatively new phenomenon simply due to the media. We have an entire network devoted to food where chefs compete in T.V shows to be the most creative, and shows like Eat St. and Diners Drive-Ins and Dives help propel food trends. Would cupcakes have become a major trend if it wasn’t so easy to take an instagram photo of a perfectly iced cupcake and upload it for the world? Maybe, but we won’t know for sure.

Sax points out that while there are down-sides to food trends, such as the constant one-upmanship and desire to be as outrageous as possible, (You need only visit the CNE to understand, in fact Sax uses the Cronut burger fiasco of 2013 to illustrate just how fragile food trends can be) food trends are also an expression of the creativity and democracy associated with North America. He writes that the Cronut never would have taken off in Paris, nor would the Ramen Burger have become popular in Japan. It is in North America that we allow food trends to grow and thrive be it for better, or for worse.

Rating 5/5

Mindy Kaling – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (2011)

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Another hilarious read from another incredibly funny woman. Through her writing Mindy Kaling reveals that she is a completely different person from her character on the Office. (Also on the Mindy Project although this book was published before the show started)

The best parts of her book included her anecdotes and stories about the Office, and her sworn “frien-imie” Rainn Wilson. I was always jealous of Mindy’s and B.J Novak’s interactions in real life (twitter arguments, instagram fights, etc) and her stories about working with Rainn make me even more jealous.

Mindy is a great writer, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering her main role on the office was that of a writer. I think that in most cases her character takes over, and people forget that she is a writer first, and an actress second. My only criticism was that at times, Kailing appears to be trying a bit too hard to be Tina Fey. That being said, Bossypants was amazing so I can’t blame her. I also just have to say, I don’t think anyone will ever understand how much I appreciated Mindy’s desire to remake A League of Their Own. That movie is flawless, much like Mindy herself.

Serve With
Chai Spice Cupcakes! Like Mindy these cupcakes are cute, delicious, and amazingly simple to make. View the recipe here!