Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache, and Potato Chip-Pretzel Brittle

Whew. What a title, right?

So I was too busy (read: lazy) to bake a King Cake this year. But baked goods were needed for Mardi Gras celebration. Therefore, I tried to think of the most decadent thing I could. The Roommate nixed my Bananas Foster Cupcake idea because she’s not all about banana baked goods. That’s fine. I’ll make them some other time. (Spoiler alert: Rum-Caramel Sauce WILL be involved!) This is what I came up with instead. I think they were a good substitute. Though I forgot to hide plastic babies in them. Next year…

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk email.

Email. It’s the communication medium of my generation. So I should be pretty good at it, right? Know all the ins and outs and etiquette. Because my generation basically invented the etiquette. So this shouldn’t be such a source of stress and embarrassment. But it is.

Oh. It is.

See, it’s not that I say completely inappropriate things over email or anything. I definitely don’t participate in chain letters or massive forwards. I understand that much. That isn’t my problem.

My problem is this: I cannot for the life of me send a concise email. Every fiber of my being revolts if I try to reply with ONLY an answer to the question asked. Instead, I have to add about five sentences of filler that I’m sure literally no one appreciates or enjoys.

If you email me and ask if I’m available for dinner tonight at 7, do not expect a one-sentence response. It will never be a simple “Yes, I am.” or “No, I am not.” It will always be a “Yes, I totally am available at that time to eat a meal of food with you. Dinner is an awesome meal and I’m so excited that we get to experience that together. Thank you so much for asking. I hope you’re having the best day ever. See you at 7! Kate”  That is probably word for word an email I’ve sent a friend before. Sorry, friends.

I get that this probably isn’t that bad if it’s just the way I respond to friends. But it isn’t.

Oh. It isn’t.

If a recruiter from a law firm emails me and asks me a question about my availability this summer, do not expect me to respond with a “Yes, I am available that day.” or a “No, I am not available that day.” Instead it will be a “Hi! Thank you so much for asking me. Yes, I am available on that day. I am very much looking forward to using my availability on that day for (x activity that you suggested). I enjoy new learning opportunities and am so grateful that your firm is willing to give me opportunities like that. I hope that you’re having the absolute best week in the entire world. Thanks again. Sincerely, Kate.” This is not word for word an email I’ve sent a recruiter before (there would probs be more exclamation points involved), but the feeling is the same. Sorry, recruiters.

Somehow I’ve gotten it into my brain that it is rude to just answer the question asked. Instead, I feel I have to make the equivalent of small talk via email. Therefore, my emails are about 5x longer than they need to be. Probably 5x more annoying too. Sorry, email contacts.

In any of the above sample emails, I probably would have contemplated the wording an punctuation for about 30 minutes. Internal dialogue sounds something like this: “Should I have an exclamation point here? I want to seem friendly but not overeager or ditzy. A period at the end of that sentence comes across as so business-oriented. But I’m nice too! How do I strike the appropriate balance?! Do I use too many ‘very’s? Do all my sentences start with ‘I’? If so, change the sentence structure. Should I say ‘looking forward to’ or ‘excited’? Have a great rest of your day? Hope you’re having a great day? Happy weekend? TGIF, amirite?….” etc etc etc

Email should probably (definitely) not be this hard. Do you get word-vomit when you start to type emails? Or are you a put-together person who knows their way around electronic communication? If so, can you help me??


Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache, and Potato Chip-Pretzel Brittle

Makes about 18 cupcakes


For the cakes

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup hot water

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream

9 oz semisweet chips

For the frosting

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

For the ganache

6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Potato Chip-Pretzel Brittle


  1. For the cakes- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake pan with liners. Stir together the cocoa powder and hot water until the cocoa powder is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. Melt butter with the sugar over medium heat. Stir occasionally until combined.  Transfer to another bowl and mix on medium-low speed until cool. This should take about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla and cocoa powder mixture. Mix until just combined.
  3. Reduce speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients. Add the sour cream. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Only mix until just combined with these steps. Don’t want to overbeat the batter. Add chocolate chips and stir until just combined.
  4. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Place cupcake pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
  5. For the frosting- Cream together peanut butter and butter. Add powdered sugar and mix on medium speed til combined.
  6. For the ganache– Heat cream and corn syrup over medium heat until simmering. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Once cream mixture is simmering, pour over the chocolate. Don’t start stirring until the chocolate begins to melt. Then, starting from the center and working outward, stir with a rubber spatula, bringing as much chocolate into the hot cream mixture as possible. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is glossy and smooth.
  7. To assemble– Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes. Drizzle with as much ganache as you want. Top with a piece of brittle. One note here, though: If you’re not planning on serving these immediately, wait to place the brittle pieces on the cupcakes. The candy begins to dissolve once it comes into contact with the frosting and ganache, so you’ll have a mess on your hands if you leave them overnight.
  8. Put in your mouth.
Recipes adapted from Martha Stewart and Martha Stewart and Martha Stewart.

What I’m saying is, if you send us an email, you should probably hope that Hannah’s the one that answers it. Otherwise you’ll get a gem from me.

TGIAF, amirite?! Bake with love!



  1. Honestly, I see nothing wrong with your email etiquette… probably because I’m the same way. That line about checking the sentences to see if all of them start with “I”? Yeah, been there. Also, do you put off replying to emails even if they’re simple? I don’t know why but I just cannot reply immediately after I read them. Instead of writing back I just start opening tabs on my browser and catching up with my favorite blogs and stuff (that may or may not be the reason for my visit today).
    I say carry on, it’s refreshing to read more than monosyllables in an email once in a while.

    1. Well, thanks! And I’m sitting here laughing because, yes, I DO put off relying to emails. Because I don’t want to seem overeager. And then it takes me like a week to remember that I need to reply still.
      I’m so glad that we can serve as a stop between read and reply for you! 🙂

  2. I just made these tonight for the Boyfriend’s birthday. They were the most elaborate dessert I’ve ever baked and turned out just like the picture!!! (Okay, almost just like the picture). The toffee was the favorite part all around. Thank you!!!!!

    1. Happy birthday to the Boyfriend! Excellent choice in birthday baked goods!! I’m so glad it all worked out and looked like the pictures 🙂
      Thank YOU for making them and letting us know how it went! -K

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