Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hula Hoop the Chocolate Chip Cupcakes Away!

Like any self-respecting home cook (especially one who keeps a blog!), I watch the The Food Network and The Cooking Channel when I can.  You always need new inspiration. That’s in addition, of course, to the half-dozen magazines I get, the 100 + cookbooks that grace my shelves, the myriad clippings I collect (some quite yellowed), the yet-to-be-organized print-outs from the internet, as well as the 50-odd food blogs and websites I try to visit regularly.  That’s a lot of inspiration!

Trouble is, I have trouble working in some kind of routine exercise into that food absorption.  Often, I will watch food shows while I hula hoop.  A half-hour show is perfect for this kind of multi-tasking:  I do my hula hoop for twenty minutes and then concentrate on the show for ten minutes (or maybe fold laundry).

The irony of exercising while slobbering over food possibilities is not lost on me.
A couple weeks ago I was going doing my hula hoop while watching Giada De Laurentiis.  Can’t remember which show.  (Which made finding the recipe just a little bit of a search.) But she made these chocolate chip cupcakes look so irresistible, I was drooling over my hula hoop. 

And I had a couple of real good excuses:  my friend’s birthday was coming up, the grandsons were camping with their parents nearby, and my college girlfriends were coming for a visit, too!  So . . . I made them.  Twice.  And they were doubly delicious.

When Giada said the recipe started with a brownie mix from a box, she only half-apologized and said they were that good. I believed her.  And it's true.   I only made a couple changes from her original recipe:
  • I subbed coffee for the water she used.
  • I used regular sized chocolate chips instead of the mini-chips she recommended.
  • And I added peanut butter to the mascarpone-cream cheese frosting.

A word on the hula hoop:  It really works.  It’s a weighted hula hoop – 4 pounds. 

This is not me.

When I first used it, I had a tough time keeping it going for more than a minute at a time, but I do 20 minutes at a time and although I’m don’t do it all the time, I sure notice when I don’t!  Makes a big difference and really works whittling away my midriff.  Which is a very good thing if you like to eat brownie cupcakes like these.  And I do.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cupcakes
only slightly adapted from Giada Di Laurentiis

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, plus ¼ cup for garnish
1 (21 ounce) box brownie mix (Giada recommended Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge)
2 eggs, room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup brewed coffee
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Place than oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In small bowl, combine the walnuts, 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of the brownie mix.  Toss until the nuts and chips are well coated and set aside. (Doing this helps keep the chips and nuts from sinking to the bottom.)

In large, bowl, mix together the remaining brownie mix, eggs, vegetable oil and coffee.  Stir for 30 seconds until blended.  Fold in the nuts and chips.  Spoon the mixture into the prepare pan.  (Cupcakes will be full.)

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist fudgy crumbs.  Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting, about 30 minutes.

For the frosting, using an electric hand mixer, beat the two cheese together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Then gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth and spreadable. Then mix in 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use.  Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes and garnish with chocolate chips.  Refrigerate until ready to serve, but serve at room temperature.


  1. LOL--what a great post! Like most self-respecting cooks, exercise is a necessity to work off what we've cooked!

  2. Love the recipe and the hula hooping! I have a friend that hula hoops and she has begun dabbling in making them herself. Too bad she lives in cali now or I would have her make one for me. I think I need to buy me one. I loved hula hooping when I was younger!

  3. Alas, I have never been able to hula hoop. I didn't have hips as a child and now that I do, I just can't get the rhythm right. I can, however, make these cookies and enjoy them. Hmm, maybe I'll just sway for ten minutes.


  4. If only I still skipped double Dutch, used a hool-hoop or road my bike all day long like I did whan I was a kid I would once again be 120 lbs and loving my thighs. If I have more than one of these delicious cupcakes will you be my personal trainer:D

  5. Congratulations on teh Hula Hoop; you're good1 I would have a hard time with this. Your recipe though really makes me want to give it a try.

  6. these look so so good and I need to try using my daughter hula hoop fun

  7. I love hula hoops...but I think I love these cupcakes more! They look so delicious. I've been loving fresh corn lately. Thanks for sharing, sweet friend. I hope you are having a beautiful and bountiful week! Hugs from Austin!

  8. They were AWESOME, I definitely liked the added peanut butter! Thanks again for making them for us!

  9. The cupcakes look AMAZING and have to say....You. Are. A. Genius! What a GREAT idea to watch TV and hula hoop! I am SO going to steal that idea! I've marched in place, but I think the hula hoop would be more fun and it would drive my Yorkie Pup NUTS! BONUS!

  10. I loved hula hoop as a kid - and I've been known to borrow my niece's hoop from time to time. The weighted hoop is a good idea. I love the idea of you exercising to The Food Network! And I'm all for connecting food input with energy output so I could easily cope with 20 mins hoop for 1(or 2) treats like these!

  11. hehe..been wanting to get a hula hoop for myself..you know, so I can shake off a few pounds...sighs...ever since I started baking, it seems almost impossible to just lose 1 gram.
    Those cupcakes are a stunner! Love them! Do eat one for me!

  12. I've heard of those weighted hula hoops. What a great idea to work off a few calories while watching the food network. Very creative. That way you can eat an extra cupcake!

  13. Absolutely loving the amazing and yummy cupcakes...as for the hula hoop?...haven't used one since I was a kid...LOL

    Great recipe, Rosemary, and lovely photos:DDD


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