It's possible to trade profitably on the Forex, the nearly $2 trillion worldwide currency exchange market. But the odds are against you, even more so if you don't prepare and plan your trades. According to a 2014 Bloomberg report, several analyses of retail Forex trading, including one by the National Futures Association (NFA), the industry's regulatory body, concluded that more than two out of three Forex traders lose money. This suggests that self-education and caution are recommended. Here are some approaches that may improve your odds of taking a profit. Prepare Before You Begin Trading Because the Forex market is highly leveraged -- as much as 50 to 1 -- it can have the same appeal as buying a lottery ticket: some small chance of making a killing. This, however, isn't trading; it's gambling, with the odds long against you. A better way of entering the Forex market is to carefully prepare. Beginning with a practice account is helpful and risk-free. While you're trading in your practice account, read the most frequently recommended Forex trading books, among them Currency Forecasting: A Guide to Fundamental and Technical Models of Exchange Rate Determination, by Michael R. Rosenberg is short, not too sweet and highly admired introduction to the Forex market. Forex Strategies: Best Forex Strategies for High Profits and Reduced Risk, by Matthew Maybury is an excellent introduction to Forex trading. The Little Book of Currency Trading: How to Make Big Profits in the World of Forex, by Kathy Lien is another concise introduction that has stood the test of time. All three are available on Amazon. Rosenberg's book, unfortunately, is pricey, but it's widely available in public libraries. "Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline and a Winning Attitude," by Mark Douglas is another good book that's available on Amazon, and, again, somewhat pricey, although the Kindle edition is not. Use the information gained from your reading to plan your trades before plunging in. The more you change your plan, the more you end up in trouble and the less likely that elusive forex profit will end up in your pocket. Diversify and Limit Your Risks Two strategies that belong in every trader's arsenal are: Diversification: Traders who execute many small traders, particularly in different markets where the correlation between markets is low, have a better chance of making a profit. Putting all your money in one big trade is always a bad idea. Familiarize yourself with ways guaranteeing a profit on an already profitable order, such as a trailing stop, and of limiting losses using stop and limit orders. These strategies and more are covered in the recommended books. Novice traders often make the mistake of concentrating on how to win; it's even more important to understand how to limit your losses. Be Patient Forex traders, particularly beginners, are prone to getting nervous if a trade does not go their way immediately, or if the trade goes into a little profit they get itchy to pull the plug and walk away with a small profit that could have been a significant profit with little downside risk using appropriate risk reduction strategies. In "On Any Given Sunday," Al Pacino reminds us that "football is a game of inches." That's a winning attitude in the Forex market as well. Remember that you are going to win some trades and lose others. Take satisfaction in the accumulation of a few more wins than losses. Over time, that could make you rich!

Gooey Chocolate S’mores Cupcakes

Gooey Chocolate S’mores Cupcakes
These are the perfect s’mores cupcakes: a graham cracker base, soft and decadent chocolate cake, gooey Hershey’s chocolate buttercream center, and toasted marshmallow frosting. 
It’s week four of my June Barbecue Menu where I’ve spent the month putting together an entire meal’s worth of BBQ courses. I started with Strawberry Limeades, followed that up with Loaded Baked Potato Salad with Yogurt as the side, used some Basil and Garlic Steak Marinade on some gorgeous rib-eyes for the main course, and now it’s time for dessert!
And surprising absolutely no one in the world who knows me, it’s s’mores themed. S’mores Cupcakes!! I love s’mores. They are the best part of summer and if I can s’moreize anything, I will.
I just typed the word “s’mores” so many times it doesn’t look real any more.
These cupcakes are total show stoppers. I’ve tested them a couple times since they are multi-step cupcakes, and every time leftovers go out into the world, they are met with rave reviews. They even got a “this is the best cupcake I’ve ever tasted” from one taste tester. Sooooooo.
There’s a lot going on with these cupcakes, so I’m going to break it down for you.
We start with a brown sugar graham cracker base. It’s a little crunchy, a little crumbly, and the beeeeeest thing. I’m obsessed with it.
On top of that, there is the chocolate cupcake. This cupcake is moist and chocolatey and amazing.
Inside of the cupcake, we have more chocolate. Here’s the thing about s’mores. A classic summer s’more HAS to use Hershey’s chocolate bars. I will fight you on this. So of course, for the inside of my s’mores cupcakes, I used Hershey’s bars to make the 2-ingredient chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s my favorite part of the cupcakes.

These are the perfect s’mores cupcakes: a graham cracker base, soft and decadent chocolate cake, gooey Hershey’s chocolate buttercream center, and toasted marshmallow frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream
  • 2 Hershey's Bars 3oz of chocolate
  • 8 tablespoons (4oz) unsalted butter
  • Graham Cracker Layer
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (2 1/2) graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup (30g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (1.5oz) melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons (2oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (1.5oz) semi-sweet chocolate chopped (high-quality chips are fine)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (20g) unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup hot coffee or hot water
  • 5 cups marshmallow frosting see recipe for when to start the frosting
Start Chocolate Buttercream
  1. Start the buttercream about an hour before you are ready to make your cupcakes. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt together butter and chocolate until completely melted. Stir together and then remove from heat.
  2. Allow to cool on the counter for 10 minutes before placing in the refrigerator until solid, about 1 hour.
Graham Cracker Layer
  1. Preheat oven to 350° Line cupcake pan with grease-proof liners.
  2. In your food processor, pulse graham cracker pieces until they are a fine crumb. Add in flour and sugar and pulse until combined. Drizzle in butter and continue to process until completely incorporated. If you don't have a food processor, you can crush the graham crackers with a rolling pin in a plastic bag and mix everything in a bowl.
  3. Divide graham cracker mixture between cupcakes cups, a little less than one tablespoon per cup, and use your fingers or a shot glass to press mixture down firmly.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes until tops look set.
  1. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter until almost completely melted. Add chocolate and oil and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave for an additional 15 seconds if necessary, until chocolate is completely melted. Stir until well-combined and set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture. (It can be warm, but if it is hot to the touch, set aside for another couple of minutes. You don't want to scramble the eggs!)
  4. Whisk in half of the flour mixture until just combined. Add all of the buttermilk and mix. Whisk in the last of the flour, mixing until just combined.
  5. Whisk in the coffee (or water). The batter will be thin and runny. It's supposed to look like that.
  6. Fill cupcake tins just under 3/4 of the way full (if you transfer the batter to a liquid measuring cup first, it makes filling easier). Don't overfill--you might have a tiny bit of batter left over.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  8. Take chocolate frosting mixture out of the refrigerator and set on the counter to soften while your cupcakes cool.
Finish Chocolate Filling and Assemble
  1. Allow cupcakes to cool completely, about half an hour. Once cupcakes are cool, use a handheld electric mixer, or scoop softened chocolate mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer and use the whisk attachment, to whisk mixture on medium-high until light in color, about 2 minutes.
  2. Using a serrated knife with a sharp tip, cut a cone-shaped piece out of the center of each cupcake. You don't have to be neat about it, and you can discard (or eat) the cone.
  3. Transfer chocolate frosting to a plastic bag by placing the bag over an empty cup and scooping the mixture inside. Seal bag and snip off one of the corners. Use the bag to "pipe" chocolate mixture into the cupcakes and fill to the top.
  4. Make marshmallow frosting and top cupcakes with big swirls using a piping bag.
  5. Turn broiler on high and place cupcakes on a tray in the oven. Watch closely and do not walk away from the oven. Leave cupcakes in just long enough to toast the marshmallow frosting, 2 to 4 minutes.
Recipe Notes
Make sure to use grease-proof liners if grease spots matter to you. Regular liners hold up just fine for these cupcakes, but the butter in the graham cracker base will turn the liners dark, and doubling up only works long enough to snap a few photos. 😉


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