Empty Pantry, Full Belly

Monday was National Chocolate Cake Day. I’d like to think I knew this ahead of time and planned accordingly, but the truth is, I didn’t have a clue until the cupcakes were out of the oven.

Every few days, I get the urge to bake something yummy. Some of it comes from the need to please you, dear readers. Some comes from the desire to bake everything I’ve pinned to my Pinterest boards. But the majority comes from my never-satisfied sweet tooth.

However…sometimes this urge hits and my pantry is nearly empty. And, in cases like yesterday, the snow was way too deep to run out to the grocery store. So I improvise…and come up with delicious treats like this:


Sweetened condensed milk is one of those ingredients that I always seem to have on hand, but never actually use. In fact, it’s entirely possible that it’s the SAME can of milk rolling around in the pantry, since I can’t recall ever baking with it. But now, things are much different. Sweetened condensed milk is here to stay.

Take one can. Lie it on its side, fully submerged in a pot of water. Heat things up to a simmer, and leave it alone for 2 hours. Take it out, let the can cool off for awhile, then crack it open. The result?

Thick, sticky, beautiful caramel. Perfect for swirling, dunking, or licking from a spoon. And then, layer it on top of these cupcakes.

Empty-Pantry Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups water (or brewed coffee)

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a bowl until fully incorporated. Add wet ingredients, stir until combined, and pour into greased or lined cupcake tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool, then top with caramel, frosting, or nothing at all.

2 thoughts on “Empty Pantry, Full Belly

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