This post is a celebration, a toast to uncelebrated body parts (ankles) and a sprinkling of divine intervention. But instead of raising a pint, we're toasting with cupcakes: Guinness Cupcakes.
But first, some thoughts on exercise.
I enjoy running, and I try to put soles to the pavement as often as I can. It's not as often as I should, but when I do I never regret having done it. Running offsets my weakness for carbs and calibrates my mental compass. When I run, my mind freely wanders from long stretches of nothing to the occasional tangible thought. It pecks around like a free-range chicken - light, easy, happy - and this mindlessness is where I think a lot of things get sorted out in the background. I'm always less stressed than when I set out.
The tangible thoughts are often about being thankful for the good things in my life, and those include my ankles. Yeah, it's weird, but I think about my ankles and am humbled knowing how lucky I am. The reason is Doug and Kim's Spectacularly Stupid Episode #2. Episode #1 is another story for another day.
Doug and Kim's Spectacularly Stupid Episode #2
Anyway, this story begins many moons ago when we got a terrific deal on a commercial grade treadmill at a place that sells liquidated gym equipment. It should have set off a gong in my head when four young strapping dudes loaded it on our truck. But nope. No gongs. Not even a hand bell.
We drove it home and backed up the truck to our basement door. Our plan was solid: Doug and his son would handle the "heavy end" with the motor. I would guide the end with the belt - the part you run on, aka the "light end". Little did we know, every dang part of a commercial treadmill is the heavy end.
We eased it off the tailgate and toward our basement doorway. In a heartbeat it got away from us. The backs of my heels got caught on the threshold, and I was knocked backwards on my butt onto the floor. Somehow, miraculously, the treadmill got hung up on the door frame and came to a stop across the tops of my ankles. I was barely able to turn my feet sideways and wriggle free. Thank goodness, we have terrific neighbors who helped us get the dang thing in the house.
Because I can.
When I reflect on that night, I feel astoundingly stupid. We're smart people, and we did a really stupid thing that could have had lifetime repercussions. I can't imagine how or if I would be able to run today if that single event had taken a different turn... if old houses didn't have narrow doorways... if the good Lord hadn't watched over me. I shudder to think it took a near-crushing for me to acknowledge these little body parts that generally get no notoriety, except in that song where they connect the leg bone to the heel bone. This is why I savor every run as wonderful and delicious and good, even the agonizing ones where I'm really miserable and sucking wind. They are all good. Really, really good. Because I can.
So acknowledge the uncelebrated - like ankles. And savor the good - like these cupcakes. They, too, have some divine intervention called Guinness (for additional divinity, see also Guinness Beef Stew). Make a batch and share them. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day and the every day. Because you can.
- 14.9 oz. Guinness beer or other stout beer
- 2 cups unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups cocoa powder
- 4 cups flour
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 4 eggs
- 10.6 oz. Greek yogurt vanilla or plain
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat the beer and butter in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer then add cocoa powder. Whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Using a mixer, beat eggs and yogurt. Add chocolate stout mixture until just combined. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until well combined.
- Fill cupcake liners ¾ full. Bake 18-22 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly.
- Let cupcakes cool completely. Top with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.
- Heat water, salt and 1 ¼ cup sugar in medium saucepan and bring to boil. Scrape down sides to make sure all sugar is dissolved. Let boil until it reaches 240 degrees F on candy thermometer.
- While water and sugar come to a boil, beat egg whites and 1 tablespoon of sugar until soft peaks form.
- With mixer still beating, slowly pour hot syrup along side of bowl into egg white mixture. Add vanilla. Beat on high until meringue is cool to touch. This takes about 10-15 minutes in my plastic bowl.
- Once meringue is cool - and it is VERY important that it is cool - thoroughly incorporate butter a tablespoon at a time.
- Slowly sift in 1 cup powdered sugar to thicken frosting for piping on cupcakes.
- Frost cupcakes with piping bag or knife. Decorate as you like.
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