Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I haven't mentioned it here before, but much of what I make on this blog, especially desserts, are donated to my local soup kitchen, to help feed the hungry in my community.

I am constantly making food, testing recipes and trying out new ones....there is just no way my family could eat it all.  I also have this urge to feed people, I always have.  If you step into my house, you just might leave with a cake.  A consequence of my friendship.

Anyway, I usually drop things off at the soup kitchen early in the afternoon.  Today was a little different, I had so much to do, not that that's unusual.  At 3:30 I found myself with dozens of these amazing Hot Chocolate Cupcakes made up earlier in the day.  The kids enjoyed them as an afternoon snack and then I thought...we can't eat all of these.

We hopped in the car and made the trek over to the church that runs the local soup kitchen, many volunteers were busily cooking dinner that is served four nights a week, beginning at 4 PM.  When we drove up, the line was already lengthy, full of families waiting to receive a warm evening meal.  As I said before, I'm usually there early and never see the many faces that make this soup kitchen a necessity.  The faces from all walks of life who are currently sharing a common social condition....hunger.  

Once out of the car, I have to admit I was a little taken aback by the many, many children waiting to be fed.  Many of them very little, waiting with their mothers, who were there early to make sure their kids had a meal for the night. 

As we walked towards the door with these fancy cupcakes, at least fancier than what is normally served at a soup kitchen, I could feel the excitement from the children in line.  I heard some say, "Oh Mommy, can we have those first, we haven't had something good in so long, and there is even a piece of candy on them!  Oh please Mommy, make sure we get one." 

Honestly, I could have collapsed just hearing the words.  All I could think of was the plethora of food at home, the food we eat and all that gets wasted.  It made me ill to think of all these people who do without daily.  In fact I was surprised that so many children go hungry right in my community.  What about WIC programs?

I always thought of soup kitchens as feeding older, homeless people.  But that was not the case, the people there today, looked just like you and me.  I was shocked.  Even my kids were surprised.  It shocked them at how excited people were to receive cupcakes, something they have never thought twice about having.

I guess my point is to hopefully inspire some of you to seek out a local soup kitchen in your community.  If you are a food blogger, I know you are cooking up large amounts of food that might not get eaten.  Try donating some of it to a soup kitchen in your neighborhood.  You have no idea how rewarding it can be.

And by the way, these cupcakes are amazing.  Just the look of them puts a twinkle in the eyes of the children you prepared them for.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted, butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 Tablespoons plus teaspoons milk or water
1-1/4 cups mini marshmallows
4 candy canes

Heat oven to 350o F.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

On a large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, 2 minutes.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy, 1 minute.  On low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with milk.  Fill each cupcake liner two-thirds full.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.  Remove cupcakes from pan to wire rack; let cool.

For the topping, with a mixer on low-speed, beat confectioners' sugar, shortening and milk until smooth.  Spread over cupcakes and top with mini marshmallows and a piece of candy cane. 

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  1. Wendi in Biarritz 1

    Thank you for relating your experience. I will be reading it to my 11 yr old son when he gets home from school this afternoon. We also need to remember that the people waiting in that line and lines like it all over the world aren’t just there during the Holidays.

  2. I think it’s a great idea to donate your baking to your local soup kitchen. I looked into it here, but the nly one that would take it was a fair hike on public transport for me, so I opted out. But it is a very very good idea. These cupcakes are oh so cute – I can see why the children were excited.

  3. that is so wonderful that you do that! thanks for sharing this story…. really makes you think. that is a great idea to donate food that you know you won’t eat/don’t need. i am definitely going to look into options around me.

  4. Very humbling. These look amaazing! Lucky people!

  5. What a wonderful thing for your family to do. I will be looking around for similar options for my own family. These cupcakes look amazing!

  6. That is such a great idea. What a wonderful way to help those in your community who don’t have as much.

  7. Nitasha 7

    What an amazing way to begin my morning! I sit down at work and open my email expecting to see the same old issues and instead I get this inspiring post. I will admit, I teared up (thank goodness I’m in an office). Thank you for reminding us what the true spirit of the holidays should be.

  8. Niki 8

    It is amazing how many people are homeless, or don’t have enough money to eat. I serve food at a local PADS Shelter (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) in Chicago. PADS is a great organization to be involved with in Chicago (not sure if they are outside of Chicago). There are people there who have to stay the night and those who have a place to stay, some nights, but don’t have the money to get food, so they come, get dinner, dessert, and maybe take home (or where ever they are going) a packed lunch. And let me tell you how excited they get about dessert, even the old men! They will eat 2-3 helpings of dinner then grab a slice of cake and some cookies, whatever sweet treat they can get b/c dessert is really a treat. Maybe it might not be healthy for them, but wow, it excites them!
    It’s so nice to see that you give so much to the local soup kitchen. Makes me love this blog even more!!! :)

  9. what an inspiring post. you are so sweet to do this and i’m going to look up some places in my area to bake for. i love to make cupcakes, but we never can eat them all, so i rarely make them.

  10. LOVE this post. I never thought of doing that, but you have inspired me. :)

    The cupcakes look fabulous as well!

  11. Noble Pig 11

    Great! Even if you have a half of cake leftover, slice it up and deliver it!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this – and what a wonderful idea. I will definitely admit to tearing up reading this, too – and to feeling very humbled that I had not thought of doing something like this, when I know how fortunate we are. What a great lesson for the kids, too.

    Not to mention how yummy those cupcakes look… they must have brought such smiles to so many faces.

  13. Lo 13

    What a great idea. I wonder if the soup kitchens in our area would take baked goods? What a great way to spread the joy!

  14. Maura 14

    I never, ever comment on posts but this story made me tear up. I often donate clothing to the local homeless shelters, but never food. I will be doing that this Christmas season. Thanks for inspiring me, and keep up the good work!

  15. Because our church houses the local food pantry, my oldest has become more aware of people that need extra help. At 8, he amazes me by his thoughtfulness.
    About the cupcakes, how many cupcakes does the recipe make? I looked and don’t think I saw that on the post.

  16. Marjie 16

    I think everyone’s a child at heart when it comes to fancy cupcakes. How nice that you were able to delight children at the soup kitchen.

  17. Annette 17

    God bless you, Cathy, for giving a little joy to the children and inspiration to all of us.

  18. Emilee 18

    How many cupcakes does this recipe yield?

  19. Noble Pig 19

    16-18 cupcakes.

  20. Barbie with a T 20

    This was very touching. Giving to the needy especially at this time of the year is what it is all about, and you give year round! I think that is one reason you are so successful.

  21. Did you hand out the cupcakes to those waiting in line? I probably would have. Kids and sweet treats make my heart melt. Nothing like a kid with a cupcake or an ice cream cone … and if they haven’t had something like that in a while, well, I turn into a sobbing puddle wanting to reach out even more. I will definitely be researching a nearby soup kitchen as, due to my holiday schedule, I will not be baking for the folks at work. Instead, I can make the 3 treats I’d planned on preparing and walk them to those who need them. Thank you for the inspiration

  22. dani 22

    oh my, it is so sad to hear that mothers are having to bring their children to be fed at the soup kitchen! I applaud you for donating food, it is really wonderful and i bet the cakes went down a real treat.

  23. Mia 23

    Cathy, Thank you for posting such a meaningful story. It is wonderful that you donate the excess food you prepare to a shelter. In these difficult economic times, we need more people who exhibit the generosity of spirit that you do.

  24. cara 24

    thank you for sharing that! I am also someone who needs to feed people… I think my work friends think I’m nuts because I am always taking them something!
    I will check out the local soup kitchen…

  25. Dawn 25

    You inspired me. Today I baked two coffee cakes and took them to the soup kitchen in my town. They welcomed me with open arms and I got to see those that needed it, eat. It was such a gift. They felt I was giving them a gift, but what i got was so much more. Thank you for the inspiration, I needed something like this.

  26. laura 26

    what a wonderful idea. i’ll bet that very few soup kitchens have cupcakes, and they are such a delight to children and adults alike.

  27. Michelle 27

    I think it’s fantastic that you volunteer your time and your wonderful food! I bet everyone loves when you bring something :)

    So I just made these cupcakes (they’re in the oven right now) and I thought the batter was a little thick. I realized I didn’t put the milk in. Where in the process are we supposed to do that?

  28. What a wonderful thing you do. I’m amazed your family can’t eat all of that wonderful stuff. I’d eat if all if I lived with you!

    These look tasty and easy. I could make a batch right now.

  29. Kyddryn 29

    Oh, bless you.

    It’s the kids that pain me…grown-ups are not as trapped in the present as kids are. To the littlest ones, today is the only time there is – no tomorrow, no yesterday, only right now…and if they’re hungry, cold, or tired now, then they always have been, always will be.

    I may be repeating something from another comment – in a bit of a rush, haven’t read them all – but regarding WIC – it’s only for pregnant women or women with children under the age of five. After that, they have to try and qualify for other social programs, and with so many people tapping the foodstamp and TANF resources, many communities have had to make stricter cur-offs and turn people away. Also, even WITH WIC, food stamps, and TANF, many families just don’t have enough.

    I bet those desserts brighten up more than one day…I would lay odds that they remind people of better times, and maybe even help one or two folks hold onto the hope of things to come, of a day in the not-too-distant future when they might have a home to fill with wonderful smells, and maybe…maybe…maybe have enough to share with the people standing where they so recently stood.

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  30. Colleen Moore 30

    Way to go for calling attention to the hungry through ou our corners of the world. Happy Holidays.

  31. Kiki 31

    I volunteer for a local organization that started as a soup kitchen and now offers shelter, temporary housing, transitional housing, 24 hour day care (with homework assistance), job search assistance and coaching, child abuse counseling, and other related services. They are truly amazing and give a hand up as well as a handout.
    I am always blown away by their clients and the will to succeed and the impact of a small gesture like a cupcake can have. I’m glad that you got to see who you are helping!

  32. Linda 32

    All along I thought you were just a genius. You’re really an angel. You’ve inspired me once again.

  33. You just continue to amaze me, but of course you would help out. There is a food shelf near us, but the closest soup kitchen is in the Twin Cities, about 40 miles away. We may just need to search on line to find one and contact them to see if they will take donations from a non-commercial kitchen and plan a day to road trip up there.

    Thanks for reminding us what is really important, especially during this season.

  34. Terry Covington 34

    Cathy, Thanks for a great post. My sister uses coupons and refunds and goes to sales and buys things for a local elementary school — kids need not only food, but many of them need coats, socks, pencils and paper. My parents donate fruit from their farm to a local food bank. Whenever there is a buy one get one free sale at a local store I give all the free stuff I get to a shelter or food bank. Just check with your local food bank or shelter first to see what they accept. Toiletry samples are another great thing people need.

  35. Shelle 35

    Thanks for this reminder that hunger is ageless.

  36. AlW 36

    I attend St. Barnabas and volunteered to work at the kitchen one evening. I barely made it through the night. I’m with you; it was the kids that hit me so hard. My children are 10 and 12 years old and I can’t for the life of me figure out how I got so lucky. I help raise funds for the Soup Kitchen and have served on the Vestry, but I don’t work during meal service anymore. I just become a blithering idiot working in the pantry. Your readers should know, the only line the guests stand in is the line to get inside. Once inside, everybody sits down and the meal is brought to them by volunteers working as waiters.

  37. Michelle 37

    Great idea. I always wondered how your family and neighbors ate so much. Now I know your secret. :) Was it hard for the soup kitchen to accept already cooked food? (ie liability?)

  38. Megan 38

    These are just adorable. Your story breaks my heart. I live just down from our local mission and I see the people everyday as I drive by. Lots of children. :( I should take cupcakes to them too.

  39. These cupcakes are adorable and festive! And your story has inspired me to look into the soup kitchen and helping the needy. Thank you!

  40. Laura L. 40

    Wow. This blog is so inspiring. I bake a lot. I cook a lot. And we have so much leftover a lot of the time. Thanks for posting and reminding us to be thankful for what we have.

  41. vanessa 41

    just finished making these, and the batter legit, tastes like hot chocolate mix! one note, only makes 1 dozen, and that’s not going the full 2/3s. I will be piping on home made marshmallow. a perfect treat for this new england blizzard!


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