I took a class in college on how to read and write short stories. (Yes, even at MIT you can take humanities classes. You can even major or minor in the humanities - it is one of the few places in the world where you can get a Bachelor of Science in literature or music.) In addition to reading and writing short stories, my professor also told us a little bit about the publishing world since she was, in fact, a "real" author (her name was Shariann Lewitt for any of you science fiction fans out there). One of the things she told us that stuck with me is that every writer has a specific medium that suits them. For example, some writers are just novelists while others are short story-ists. Others are journalists or reviewers; food writers, as well, are their own breed. Sure, they can cross these self-defined boundaries and write outside of their genre, but there is definitely something inherent in them that gives them a proclivity towards one type of writing or another.
I maintain that the same is true for baking. I can bake cakes or make pies. I can even whip up a batch of cookies. Should I so desire. But cupcakes. I think and dream in terms of cupcakes. They are my thing. As they say.
My roommate from college, Tiffany, is another lover of cupcakes. And cream cheese frosting. That is another one of my fortes. So when she came to visit, I whipped out my new cupcake cookbook - Martha Stewart's Cupcakes - and searched for a recipe. I wasn't supposed to own this cookbook, mind you. By which I mean, I wasn't supposed to buy any new cookbooks. But then I ordered the next book for Cook the Books off Amazon.com and this cookbook somehow managed to finagle it's way into my shopping cart. It had something to do with the fact that you get free shipping on orders over $25. Which I think is a pretty rational argument. Plus it is a cookbook filled solely with cupcake recipes. Which is an argument in and of itself.
Seeing as how I had not one, but two zucchini sitting in my refrigerator, Martha's zucchini-spice cupcakes immediately jumped out at me. Plus that weekend just happened to mark the end of fall and so I felt this extreme urge to purge myself of all summer foods. I managed to convince myself that having summer squash in my fridge as the seasons turned would somehow bring me bad luck for the coming year. Ludicrous, I know, but what with the marathon and this whole medical school thing, I need to take all of the precautions I can.
Speaking of which, I ran 20 miles yesterday. Or 20.5 as my dear and wonderful running partner Alan would want me to tell you. We felt kind of dead at the end of it and, to be honest, I could not have run it without him. That is my last long run, though, before the actual race! And how do I feel? I feel like I am going to miss it. A lot. Oh well. Time to start planning for the next marathon ;).
These cupcakes were delicious. My roommate, Sophie, claims that they were her favorite cupcakes that I have made yet. She has a thing for cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Which really do happen to make everything better.
Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 12, adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini, pressed (about 1 zucchini)
4 oz neufchatel/cream cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter
confectioner's sugar, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, applesauce, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest until well blended. Whisk in the brown sugar until blended. Stir in the zucchini. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
2. Divide batter evenly among the lined cups. Bake, rotating the pan about halfway through, for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
3. To make frosting, blend together the cream cheese, vanilla, and butter. Add confectioner's sugar to taste. Allow to chill in the fridge for at least one hour before frosting the cupcakes.