Living in Guizhou is great for a lot of things--improving my Chinese, for example, or going on hikes with a local SWAT team, or getting a serious education in Buyi ethnic culture. Food-wise, if you love spicy eggplant, sticky rice, duck soup, or breakfast noodles (and ohmigosh do I), then really there's nowhere better.
But sometimes, even the most open-minded and open-mouthed of us get homesick. And food can play a big role in that. When I'm in the US and I get a craving for some thin crust pizza or some Ben and Jerry's, well, most of the time I talk myself out of it. But sometimes, of course, I indulge. And it's nice to have that option. Because when I'm in rural China and a craving like that strikes, it just acts as another reminder of the fact that I am really, really far away from home. And the Whole Foods salad bar. (Which is actually my favorite food.)
It was so good to be home. And the holidays this year were the best. My only complaint is that they passed far too quickly for me to fully take in the magical, sparkly feelings of Christmas and New Year's before they were gone. But let's be serious . . . No amount of time is ever enough for that.
And now, my fair readers, I have an announcement.
(No, I am not engaged. But I did pick out a ring while I was home! Eek!)
I have officially upgraded from the camera on an iPhone 4S to a Canon Rebel T3. Quite an upgrade indeed. Thanks, mom and dad, for the incredible birthday present!
The Christmas Day meal in my family is all about tradition. All of the dishes come straight out of my grandmother's kitchen exactly the way they have for the last fifty years: crab meat spaghetti, a rhubarb jello mold, strawberry quick bread, a German Stollen, and a smoked turkey and a honey ham.
Oma asks us every year if we're sure we don't want to update the menu, but the answer's always no. The only thing that's changed is the classic canned-soup-green-bean-casserole. For the past few years, I've been charged with vegetable casserole duty. This year, I chose Emeril's Cauliflower Gratin. The only change I made was to use broccoli in place of half the cauliflower. Since I was serving a big group, I also doubled the original recipe. My casserole is the second one from the left. (The first is that crab meat spaghetti--bring on the Velveeta and cream of mushroom soup! Mmm.)I love the way the onion, bay leaves and cloves are used to infuse the milk with flavor. This recipe was a keeper
!Recipe for Broccoli Cauliflower GratinAdapted from Emeril LagasseMakes 12 servings.Ingredients:2 bay leaves1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half6 whole cloves
6 cups milk1 large head cauliflower
, rinsed and cut into florets1 large head broccoli, rinsed and cut into florets10 tbsp butter
, divided4 tbsp minced shallots4 tsp minced garlic6 tbsp flourPinch freshly ground nutmeg1 cup freshly grated Gruyere1 cup coarse breadcrumbs 1 tsp salt1/2 tsp white pepper4 tsp fresh parsley, roughly choppedInstructions:
Lay the bay leaves over the cut sides of the onion and poke 3 cloves through each to secure leaves to onion. Put the onion halves in a 2-quart saucepan and pour the milk over them. Over medium heat, bring to a gentle simmer. Cook--do not boil--for ten minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside until ready to use. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Steam the cauliflower until just tender, 10 minutes. Halfway through, add the broccoli. Arrange
florets in a shallow casserole dish and set aside while you make the sauce. In a saucepan, melt 6 tbsp butter. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to form a blonde roux. Do not allow mixture to brown. Add the simmered, strained milk and whisk till smooth. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer for ten minutes or until thick, smooth and creamy. Remove pan from heat and
add the Gruyere and nutmeg; stir until cheese has melted. Emeril recommends that you strain the sauce, but I left mine as is. Pour strained or un-strained sauce evenly over florets. Melt the remaining 4 tbsp butter in a saucepan and add breadcrumbs. Toss well to coat. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and add the chopped parsley. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over casserole and bake until golden and bubbly, 30-45 minutes.
When I came to China back in April to decide if Libo was for me, I had a chance to go to Shanghai and visit my friend Sarah. She promised that if I were in China over Thanksgiving, we could have a dinner party at her apartment (but only if I did the cooking!). And as I packed my suitcases to come over in August, I remembered that promise and included cans of pumpkin, cranberry sauce, a box of cornbread mix, and a few other odds and ends, all of which came in handy last weekend.
I had never been to Sarah's apartment before, and I was truly awe-struck when I entered it for the first time last Friday. It is on the thirty-fifth floor of one of the "Skyline Mansions," and is situated directly across from the Shanghai World Financial Center (the tallest free-standing building in China and 9th tallest in the world). It's all hardwood floors and modern, tasteful furniture. There's a lily pond and fountain in the living room, and priceless pieces of art adorn the walls. The kitchen was more than suitable to my needs, as it had an oven and three gas burners. Sarah does not cook, though, and the contents of the kitchen cabinets reflected that. When I took a pre-shopping inventory, I discovered quirky assortment of gadgets, like a tool for peeling and sectioning a grapefruit in one motion, a set of colorful silicon potholders, an immersion blender still in the original packaging, and a display drawer full of German spices that were long expired and "just for show." Mysteriously absent, however, were any oven-proof dishware, mixing bowls, measuring spoons, or typical kitchen stand-bys like butter or flour.
I spent all day on Friday making preparations for Saturday's dinner while Sarah was at work. The IFC supermarket had nearly everything a foreigner could dream of: imported dairy products, muffin tins, Betty Crocker cake mixes, frozen pizzas, and Le Creuset cookware. The only things I couldn't find were pre-made pie crusts and corn syrup, both of which I could live without, despite that one of my arch-nemeses of cooking is any recipe that requires cutting butter into flour. (A few others include recipes that involve browning butter or candy thermometers.)
I bought two huge bags' worth of groceries and walked the several long city blocks back to Sarah's apartment to finally get into some real cooking. The first thing I did was make the box of cornbread to have it ready for the stuffing the next day. Then I made the pie crusts and the mashed potatoes. By seven o'clock, I was finished and had time to get ready before hitting the clubs with a few friends in town.
The nightlife in Shanghai is so good that it was impossible to return to Sarah's apartment any earlier than 3:30 am, which meant that an early morning of cooking was tougher than I would have liked. But thanks to a latte the Starbucks around the corner, I was able to soothe my aching head and launch into a frenzied few hours of cooking so that I could have the oven free for Chris's turkey, which was scheduled to arrive mid-afternoon.
Somehow, I managed to get it all done, and the meal was as authentic as could be. Sarah invited eight friends over, and the night really couldn't have gone any better. Everyone loved the food, although the three-year-old Chinese boy insisted on having dumplings with his turkey. Spending Thanksgiving away from home was tough, but I definitely made the best of it!
And, I know you were wondering... Here are the pictures of the food! Click on a photo to for a link to the recipe. (Except for the pumpkin pie. That recipe's super secret and belongs to my friend Dan's aunt. I was only given it in the strictest confidence.)
No recipe for this one yet... This was all my friend Chris Lu's work! He used Sichuan peppers in the rub and agave nectar on the skin and it was one of the BEST turkeys I have ever had. When I have the recipe, I will definitely share it!
Relaxing with my new little friend after a great meal:
Big Mountain's daughter turned six last week, so I of course made her a birthday cake! You can read more about the story of her birthday here
. I'm sharing the recipe with you just in case you have similar ingredient constraints (maybe you're baking in rural Panama, I don't know!) or maybe you're opposed to butter (I'm sorry) for health reasons. The cake is really good, for what it is. But it doesn't compare to, say, my Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Malt Frosting
.Putting the second layer on:
The cake recipe I used is from Seasoned to Taste
. It's really simple and it doesn't call for any exotic ingredients. The only thing I did differently was to chop up a bar of white chocolate and add it to the batter instead of adding orange zest.To form the smaller second tier, I simply halved the recipe and used a smaller pan. The frosting is Betty Crocker chocolate. It was actually pretty good, although as you probably are aware I'd much rather have made my own.The finished product:
Sheet cakes are probably the simplest kind of cake you can make. There's no layering involved, no scary moment of truth where you discover whether or not you greased the pan well enough. They are casual cakes, begging to be taken to a school or work function, a picnic, or (in my case) a potluck dinner. Everyone will know and appreciate the fact that you made something with your own two hands, and you can smile secretly to yourself because you didn't have to work all that hard.
This sheet cake in particular was a great find for me, because I was trying to accommodate one friend who doesn't like chocolate (I know! Horrors!) and one who prefers fruit-less desserts. Not only were they pleased, but so was everyone else!
Recipe for Walnut Cake with Praline Frosting
Adapted from Cooking LightMakes 16 servings.
For the cake:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted; divided
For the frosting:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 tbsp milk, divided
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup
Dash of salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Place 7 tbsp butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl; beat at medium-high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in egg white. Beat in vanilla. Add flour alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in 6 tbsp walnuts. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
For the frosting:
Place brown sugar, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tbsp butter, corn syrup, and dash of salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook two minutes. Scrape brown sugar mixture into a bowl. Add remaining two tbsp milk and powdered sugar; beat with mixer at high speed 2 minutes or until slightly cooled and thick. Beat in 1/2 tsp vanilla. Spread frosting in an even layer over cooled cake; sprinkle with 2 tbsp chopped walnuts. Let cake stand until frosting sets; cut into squares.
My mom turned thirty (for several years in a row now!) on July 25th, and this was her birthday cake. It was very rich, especially with the frosting, and very lemony. And did I mention that it was also very, very tasty?
Recipe for Lemonade Layer Cake
(Scroll down for frosting recipe.)
Adapted from Cooking LightMakes two nine-inch round cakes, or approximately 16 servings.
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp grated lemon zest (about 3 medium lemons)
3 tbsp thawed lemonade concentrate
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two nine-inch round baking pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
In a large bowl, beat first five ingredients (through vanilla) with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour and beating well after each addition.
Pour batter into prepared pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. Lemonade Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Brown Bag SpecialsMakes enough frosting for one nine-inch two-layer cake or 12 cupcakes.
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2-3 tbsp thawed lemonade concentrate
Mix all ingredients at medium speed until well combined. Spread onto cooled cake and allow frosting to set before cutting.
Since making it for the first time in the summer of 2009, this cake has become my go-to recipe when I need (or want) to bake for something important. It's simple, dependable, and it tastes wonderful every time. I know I can make it when I'm short on time, or in an unfamiliar kitchen, or when I really, really
don't want to mess up.
So when I went to Columbus to meet my boyfriend's parents for the first time, I knew this would be the perfect thing to make for them. They loved it! They even asked me to make them another one before I left. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to do that. But I did give Matt's mom a copy of Molly Wizenburg's book, A Homemade Life.
Next time I visit, I hope we can make it together.
I usually make it in a round baking pan, but it's such an adaptable recipe that a square one works just as well. It would probably make good cupcakes, too! I'll be posting a recipe for a different lemon cake (it's my mom's' favorite kind of cake, so I'm constantly trying different variations) that has a lemonade buttercream frosting. That would go well with this, too . . . Hmm . . .
Recipe for French-Style Lemon Yogurt Cake
From A Homemade Life
by Molly Wizenburg
Makes one 9-inch round cake.
For the Cake:
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
For the Lemon Syrup:
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
For the Lemon Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, sugar and eggs and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture in with the yogurt mixture and blend. Mix in the oil and stir until well combined. The batter should be very smooth.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes and then turn out onto a cake rack or serving plate to cool.
While cake is still warm, mix together lemon syrup ingredients and spoon over cake. Let cake cool completely.
For the lemon icing, whisk together ingredients and spoon over cooled cake. Wait until icing has set, about one hour. Serve.
(If you can't wait, don't. Who cares.)
This is the most delicious American-style potato salad out there. I'm convinced.
If you haven't read Molly Wizenburg's A Homemade Life
, please go get yourself a copy! I haven't made everything from the book (yet), but that's definitely a life goal of mine. Her stories about cooking and family will warm your heart and make your mouth water, I promise.
Her father's recipe for potato salad is one of the first things I tried from the book, and it does not disappoint! My mom and I were skeptical when we read the list of ingredients (ranch dressing? really?), but just trust us. It's great.
One note--please do not try to make a "lighter version" of this recipe. I'm all about cutting calories when and where I can, but this is an all-or-nothing potato salad. If you substitute lite or non-fat or low-fat ingredients, don't blame me when this recipe doesn't blow your mind.
Finally, this potato salad tastes *way* better if you make it the day before you want to serve it. It will still be good the day of, but the flavors won't mesh as well.
Recipe for Burg's Potato Salad
From Molly Wizenburg's A Homemade Life
For the Salad:
1 3/4 lbs red waxy potatoes, scrubbed
4 large eggs
8 scallions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
For the Dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably Hellman's)
4 tbsp bottled Ranch dressing (preferably Hidden Valley)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
1-2 tsp caraway seeds, optional (I usually omit)
Place potatoes in a Dutch oven or large saucepan and add cold water to cover by one inch. Add a generous dash of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a small, thin knife, about 15 minutes. Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water, and set aside to cool. (If you're in a hurry, stick them in the refrigerator to speed things up. The potatoes should be completely cool when you dress them.) When potatoes have cooled, slice them into rough 1-inch chunks. Smaller potatoes should be cut in half, while larger ones can be chopped into quarters or eighths. Place them in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, cook the eggs. Place them in a small saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When water begins to boil, remove them pan immediately from the heat, cover it, and let it sit for exactly 12 minutes. Immediately pour off the hot water and run plenty of cold water over the eggs. When the eggs have cooled, peel them, chop them coarsely, and add them to the bowl of potatoes. Add scallions, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt, and toss to mix.
In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, Ranch, dill, and caraway seeds. Pour dressing over potato mixture and stir evenly to coat. Taste, and adjust salt if needed.
Cover and refrigerate the night before serving.
This cake, dear readers, is a birthday cake classic. The person lucky enough to receive one of these from your kitchen for his or her birthday will thank you. So will everyone at the party.
This is not a "light" cake. (In case you were wondering, cakes aren't really supposed to be in that category to begin with.) This one is particularly rich, with a generous coating of chocolate malt frosting to round out the moist, yellow cake inside.
I made it for my best friend from college, Katie, who turned 24 on June 2nd. It may have taken me nearly two months to get this posted, but I wasn't about to forget to share it. No-way-josé.
Recipe for Yellow Cake with Chocolate Malt Frosting
From She Wears Many HatsMakes 2 9-inch round cakes.
2 3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup milk, divided
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
7 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two nine-inch round baking pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and 3/4 cup milk to the mixture and beat until just combined.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, remaining 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla extract together. Gradually add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over beat.
Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
Beat butter and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add in powdered sugar, cocoa powder and malted milk powder; lightly mix. Add in milk, one tbsp at a time, until smooth.
Note: When I frost cakes, I line the cake stand with strips of wax paper. After the frosting has set, I just pull the strips out, and the cake stand or platter is free of errant icing globs. Voila!
Sometimes, I read a recipe and it is love at first sight. It might be that the recipe has rave reviews, or a beautiful picture accompanying it, or that it contains ingredients or combinations of ingredients that I haven't seen before. In the case of the mango cake, it was all three. As soon as I saw Biren
's cake on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it. First of all, it's a quick bread (read: it's easy to make), but the addition of the cream cheese frosting dresses it up into a cake fancy enough for a dinner party. Which is exactly what I needed a few weeks ago. If I make this cake again, I think I'll add some shredded coconut to the batter. Mango and coconut go so well together, and the mango flavor in the cake was quite subtle. Coconut might help bring it out, and would give it an even more tropical flare.
Recipe for Mango Cake with Cream Cheese FrostingFrom Roti n RiceMakes 1 9 x 5 inch loaf
For the cake:
1-3/4 cups flour1 tsp powder1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (one stick) butter2/3 cup sugar2 large eggs1/2 cup milk3/4 cup mango puree*For the frosting:8 oz (225 grams) cream cheese2 tbsp butter, softened1 tsp vanilla3/4 cup powdered sugarDried sweetened mango, for decoratingInstructions:Grease and lightly flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in eggs. Add in flour mixture, mango puree, and
milk. Stir with a spatula until just combined.Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before frosting.In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth and creamy, another 2 minutes. Frost cake and top with dried mango slivers.*Mango puree is an unusual ingredient. I found it unsweetened in the frozen section at Global Foods Market. There was also a canned version, but it had a lot of added sugar.
These are the first cupcakes I have ever made. A momentous occasion indeed! Ah, life in the first world.As such, I am going to take this opportunity to discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of cupcakes.
A cupcake editorial, if you will. There is a serious cupcake craze in this country that has been going on for quite some time now. Cupcake boutiques have sprouted up in strip malls, Food Network has entire shows dedicated exclusively to cupcakes, and world records in largest cupcake
and largest cupcake tower
have been broken. (By the way, the world's largest cupcake contains two million
calories. Yeah. Two million
.) Not to mention the cupcake flavors that are out there these days! In the name of research, I consulted the universe's guide to trendy eats--Foodgawker.com
of course. I looked through twelve pages of cupcake photos, and here are some choice results I thought I'd share with you: Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes with Guinness Cake, Jameson Ganache and Bailey's Frosting
, Audrey Hepburn Cupcakes
(that's when you know you've made it big--someone's named a cupcake after you), Doughnut Cupcakes
(bring on the clogged arteries and type two diabetes!), Fig, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onion Cupcakes
(also known as a disappointment), and my personal favorite, the 'Cupcake Inside a Cupcake' Cupcake
. On my "Things that are Unnecessary" list,
that last one may have bumped celebrity gossip down to number two.Before we know it, normal-sized cakes will be phased out in supermarkets and bakeries across the globe in favor of their tinier counterparts, Pinkberry will carry cupcakes made with frozen yogurt, and the Girl Scouts will begin peddling Thin Mint and Samoa flavored cupcakes
every spring. Is that where society is headed, people? Is it? Is it?!
Obviously, I've been slow to jump on the cupcake bandwagon. Sure, I can enjoy a fancy dessert from Jilly's
(they won on Cupcake Wars!), but to be honest, I just don't get what all the fuss is about. To me, cupcakes seem like a cop-out. Just make a real cake, people! Why is that so hard? It is a bit funny that I've been so cupcake resistant, because I am a huge fan of muffins.
In fact, my first blog post ever was on bran muffins
, and since then, I've posted two other recipes. Maybe that's because muffins are acceptable breakfast fare, even though they taste kind of like dessert. But cupcakes have frosting, so it's generally looked down upon to consume them in the morning, which relegates them to dessert. But if I'm going to eat dessert, I'd rather have a piece of real cake, or a slice of real pie, or a scoop of real ice cream, instead of a carrot cake cupcake
(37 recipes on Foodgawker), or an apple pie cupcake
(7 recipes on Foodgawker), or an ice cream cupcake
(25 recipes on Foodgawker). So that's my opinion on cupcakes. But sometimes, the world demands that you make a double chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting. And by the world, I mean my mother. She is 100% on the cupcake bandwagon, and I can't really refuse a request to bake something.
Especially if it's something I've never tried to make before. And because I am an honest person, I will tell you that I really liked these cupcakes. They were very delicious. And my mother, who by all accounts is a cupcake connoisseur, called this recipe "a keeper." And that, dear readers, says it all.And by the way, the frosting on these cupcakes is incredible. If you want to just take the frosting recipe and use it on something else (like a real cake, or the back of a spoon--no judgment here), that's fine with me. I won't tell.
Recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream FrostingFrom Sing for Your SupperMakes two dozen cupcakes.
IngredientsFor the cake:
2 cups sugar1-3/4 cups flour3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder1-1/2 tsp baking powder1-1/2 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt2 eggs1 cup milk1/2 cup vegetable oil2 tsp vanilla extract1 cup boiling waterFor the frosting:1/2 cup butter, melted2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder3 cups powdered sugar1/3 cup milk1 tsp vanilla extractInstructionsFor the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cupcake tins with liners.Whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. The batter will be absurdly thin, and will probably end up all over your hands, face, counter top, and muffin tins. Totally worth it. But wear an apron.
Also, don't forget to put in the sugar. But if you do, and you get all the way to the end of the recipe and then wonder why the batter isn't thin, and then taste it, and realize you left it out and that the resulting batter is one of the worst things you have ever tasted, you can add it in at the end. The cupcakes will still turn out just fine.Pour batter into muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the trays, and then cool completely on wire racks. For the frosting:
Combine cocoa powder and melted butter in a medium bowl. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. (Makes about 2 cups frosting.)