December 9, 2011

It's that magical time of year where we celebrate all the many gifts in our lives. One of my favorite things to anytime of year is spend time with family, laughing, catching up and even baking together with all those wonderful smells from the oven surrounding us. With Christmas it's even more special...coming up is our annual cookie baking day, can't wait! Since it's been a while, here's something I wrote earlier this year as a guest on Frosting for the Cause... a story about strength...with a cupcake recipe weaved in -- Here as my gift to you. Enjoy.


Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes w/Raspberry Frosting

Isn’t it amazing, all the ingredients of life we’re each presented with?  Often it seems that challenges can make us stronger and sweeter and so many other wonderful things… unexpectedly.
And we all know there is the alternative, where the same ingredients in life don’t end up the same way from one person to the next.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. The beauty, spirit, strength, faith and love I see surface in women and men faced with adversity or those standing up to make a difference against challenges others are faced with.  These are we all know and love dearly, people we simply know of, people we run across here and there…people with such big hearts, people like Paula. I am so blessed to be able to guest blog on her site today.
So just like (well not just like, but sorta like) the ingredients in life…measured, mixed right, contemplated, tasted and experienced, the individual ingredients in baking can make something lovely and beautiful with frosting on top.   Today I made cupcakes, sour cream chocolate cupcakes to be specific… with a yummy raspberry cream cheese frosting.
I make them in honor of all of those who have allowed their beauty, spirit, strength, faith and love to surface. I think of my aunt, a breast cancer survivor with an incredible spirit.  I think of my amazing sister, my hero, she is a police officer who risks her life every day and who also does so much to raise money to bring a cure to breast cancer.  I think of her sweet friend and colleague who also risks her life on duty and is training like crazy for the Komen 3-day in San Diego this year (on a fantastically lively named team “Protect and Serve the Tatas” no less).  I think of a dear friend of the family who just this week underwent surgery for breast cancer, and who WILL be a survivor. I think of a former colleague of mine who after surviving breast cancer 15 years ago went on to contribute an incredible amount of her time and talent to the cause.
They are all stronger and sweeter and so many other wonderful things….
Very soon I’ll be bringing these little sweet bites of chocolate and raspberries over to breast cancer survivors who volunteer at Komen San Diego. I hope they enjoy them…and that you do too.
Recipe Adapted from “Cupcakes!” by Elinor Klivans (First, if you haven’t had a chance to check out this cookbook, please do.  Such a fun read…that is in addition to the delicious photos and great recipes. Note the title of the chapter “Making Good Cupcakes”, love the directness of that!  )
Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting
“This batter produces a light, moist dark chocolate cupcake. As all good basic chocolate cupcakes should“
Makes enough batter for 18 regular cupcakes
* 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* ½ teaspoon baking powder
* ½ teaspoon baking soda
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1¼ cups sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2/3 cup sour cream
* ½ cup water
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water and set aside to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the melted chocolate. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is blended into the batter. Add the vanilla and beat until the mixture looks creamy and the color has lightened slightly, about 1 minute. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. Mix in the water. Mix in the remaining flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. The batter is ready to bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Check with toothpick at 15 minutes.
And now for my slight variation on the frosting.
Raspberry Cream Cheese frosting
4 oz cream cheese
½ cup butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup pureed and strained raspberries ( I used frozen)
½ teaspoon almond extract
Mix butter and cream cheese until well blended, Add the extract, then the sugar a little at a time. When all combined and smooth add the raspberries. Refrigerate a little for easier piping.
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