to me, the black-bottomed cupcake is basically the most perfect sweet, as it is essentially chocolate cake with frosting (okay, filling), usually cream cheese, on the inside. i totally dig the color combo (the deep dark brown of the cake and the creamy white of the filling), the surprise factor of finding a filling in one’s tiny cake; and, you know, the fact that a black bottomed cupcake is kind of reminiscent of a hostess cupcake, doesn’t hurt either. now, the first time i developed a recipe for black bottomed cupcakes, i was heavily influenced by recipes i found here and here. but this go-around, i wanted to shake things up a bit, with a mascarpone, rather than cream cheese, filling, and an attempt at using my grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe for the “black bottomed” component of my treat.
now, at the risk of sounding like an old lady, i feel the need to confess that i remember a time when nutella was not a product one could purchase easily in the united states. like not at all, unless maybe you were in some uber-special specialty-food store. now, however, it is everywhere, which, in my opinion, is a good thing, as the combo of hazelnut/chocolate is literally one of my faves. yet, despite the flavor combo’s favored status, i never take advantage of nutella’s mainstream-y-ness (ie: i’m not sure i’ve ever purchased even a single tub of it – and i have a theory as to why, a theory that also explains why i won’t buy frozen pie dough, and get a pang every time i succumb to my nine year old’s demands for paul newman’s mint oreos from the grocery store).
i’ve always been super yeast-phobic. like super. despite my love of all things bread, i just couldn’t wrap my mind around making my own. until a few years ago, when i discovered this recipe for no-knead sandwich bread. now, making this particular bread appealed to me for several reasons: first, it gives you the option of using instant yeast, rather than active (we always used instant at baked and i prefer it, as you do not have to activate the yeast with a warm liquid prior to incorporating it into your dough – you just add it in along with your dry ingredients). second, the recipe is insanely easy and simple (ie: no kneading). and, finally, the recipe is for white bread, not whole wheat, spelt, rye, etc. and i’m sorry: i’m just a lover of white bread – from way back. do i purchase it for my boys from the grocery store or permit them to select the white rolls from the bread basket when we’re out to dinner? absolutely not. but in a perfect world, would i eat all my sandwiches (and by “sandwich,” i mean a slice of bread slathered with butter and sprinkled with maldon sea salt) on freshly baked white bread? indeed.and so – big surprise – i have been making this bread alot since discovering it. like alot alot. but as thanksgiving neared this year, rather than make loaves upon loaves of it (as had been my way), i thought maybe i should shake things up a bit, and try dinner rolls. and, i won’t lie: it was this smitten kitchen post, from around that time, that got me all parker house-obsessed. now, deb’s are pretzel-influenced, and i wasn’t really all about that. but the idea of a parker house roll? a roll that – to me – says fluffy, tender, white bread? (and, yes, i am having a flash-back to the kfc rolls of my childhood) – with that, i was completely on board. aggressive roll-research began immediately and in earnest (in light of the fact that i hadn’t really a clue as to what particular ingredients contributed to the perfect, fluffy white dinner roll (aka the parker house)).
i am not like a dutch baby devotee from back in the day. far from it. i am totally new to the world of the puffy skillet pancake. like we’re talking last year. essentially things went something like this: a friend lent me a copy of marion cunningham’s breakfast book, and suggested i try making the dutch baby, i did so, fell madly in love (with the book and the baby), purchased my own copy, and my kids’ weekend breakfasts have never been the same.