• Ashley Margaret Waterman

Chocolate and Peanut Butter

I recently turned 27. I haven’t reached that point where aging causes panic attacks yet. So far, 27 is treating me well.

Celebrating birthdays has always been a big deal for me. Growing up, I used to wake up as early as possible to open my presents before going to school. I couldn’t wait to open them, but I didn’t want to open them my actual birthday--there’s something about the day itself that’s magical. Often I spend weeks planning an elaborate party, but this year, I wanted something simple. Since my birthday was on a Sunday, I decided to celebrate the entire weekend.

Friday night I saw Anthony Bourdain. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I got was a solid hour of his hysterical food experience and anecdotes about filming his show. He ranted about food trends, Food Network chefs, food television, and what it’s like to go to events at his daughter’s school.

Saturday was the real celebration. Sam and I spent the day getting tattooed. I added a stanza of poetry to my half sleeve and some gladiolas. Afterwards, we met up with friends for dinner and drinks. Aji, one of my favorite restaurants in Boulder, did not disappoint. Two tacos, seafood stew, and two drinks later, I was content with my birthday dinner. Subsequent drinks at Bramble and Hare followed.

When trying to figure out what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday this year, I opted for cupcakes--I wanted to be able to share the cake easily.

Chocolate and peanut butter are a classic combination and one I've always enjoyed. In middle school, we took home economics. One of the best things we made was a no-bake peanut butter pie (though if you would've asked me then if I thought I could bake, I would've laughed as the batter sprayed all over the wall). I ate peanut butter cups by the dozen. I still consume a ridiculous amount of Peter Pan peanut butter. So this year, I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting from Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking.

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup almond milk

1/2 cup hot coffee (Cara's recipe calls for hot water, but coffee and chocolate? Yes!)

1/2 cup canola oil

2 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350º and get your muffin tin ready.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the water and flaxseed meal.

Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the batter.

Get your coffee going. It's best to make the coffee fresh rather than heat up this morning's leftovers.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients--minus the coffee--to the bowl with your flaxseed eggs.

Mix to combine, then pour the wet ingredients into the dry.

Add the coffee.

Stir until combined.

Pour into muffin tins and bake for 17–20 minutes.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 cup vegan butter, room temp

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3 cups powdered sugar

3 Tbsp almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

Cream the butter in your electric mixer.

Add the peanut butter.

Gradually add the powdered sugar, adding the almond milk in-between cups.

Add the vanilla extract and beat until nice and fluffy.

Frost your completely cooled cupcakes. If you're planning on taking them somewhere or eating them later, I suggest putting them in the fridge. The butter/peanut butter combination piped beautifully, but because of all of the oil, it spread out after being at room temp for a day.

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