Baking is Cheaper Than Therapy

A woman navigating a socially-fraught world with a cookie as her compass


Take-Heart Cupcakes


By Alysia Sawchyn


Here we are: a post-election, post-Thanksgiving, post-fact, oncoming holiday season, world.

It’s felt harder than usual to be a person lately. The week after the election, reports of racist graffiti (written in Expo marker) in my university’s dorms circulated around the campus.

I usually don’t talk about politics in my classroom (aside from encouraging my students to vote), but this was too much. Racist graffiti in the dorms? An EXPO MARKER?!? The washable ink—the same type I use to rainbow a whiteboard in course concepts and terrible drawings—makes me, strangely, all the angrier.

“Regardless of whom you voted, I think we can all agree that this is unacceptable behavior,” I began.

We talked about responsible allyship, about deescalation, about filming or documenting hateful and harmful events, about the laws and loopholes that allow men to stand in the common spaces of our university spewing their prejudicial views.

“Be good people,” I begged. “Please. Be actively good.”

Therapy homework:

Bake take-heart cupcakes and pass them out to your students the last day of class. Even though 9:30 feels like it is too early for chocolate, it is not. Pair cupcakes with a one-page list of suggested movies/music/books entitled, “Art That Will Make You Better People/Writers.” Read The Rumpus’  column “Write Like a Motherfucker” aloud to them as a final send off, as a type of grace.

Take-Heart Cupcakes


(I no longer remember where this recipe is originally from; it is now printed, cut, and pasted into a small striped notebook of mine. The only adaptation is my preference for dark chocolate chips.)


cupcake tins
cupcake liners


for filling

8 oz. cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
6 oz. dark mini chocolate chips

for batter

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 tbs. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla


1.       Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.       Combine filling ingredients in a bowl.

3.       Combine batter ingredients into another bowl. 

4.       Partially fill lined cupcake tins with chocolate batter. Spoon about a tablespoon of cream cheese mixture on top.

5.       Bake cupcakes about 20-25 minutes.

Alysia Sawchyn currently lives in Tampa, Florida. Her writing has appeared in Indiana Review, Midwestern Gothic, Burrow Press Review, and elsewhere. She is the managing editor of Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art and a nonfiction editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection. She can be found on Twitter @happiestwerther.