Monday, April 25, 2011


moving away from my home state of florida was a leap of faith in my now-husband. luckily, i landed on both feet and have really loved living in memphis. however, every so often a holiday rolls around where we are left with no family in sight. these are the days that i crave one of my mom's casseroles, my dad's always-inventive food creations, the roar of my niece and nephews running about.

in walks easter and out walks the chance of having any of this when i'm hundreds of miles away from home. holidays are steeped in tradition and memories. like millions of other people, my family had easter egg hunts, a holiday dinner, dyed eggs, and candy. for days after, there'd be that pesty easter grass making itself known in the oddest nooks and crannies.
my attempt at bringing all that tradition a little closer to my new home came in the form of baking this year. i had this vision of an adorable spring cupcake and i have to say...i'm pretty pleased with the result.

as i've stated before, chocolate and peanut butter dance across my taste buds in a most lively way. therefore, i set out to find a recipe to accompany such a dance. once again, ms. ina garten shared her tried and true medley with me (and the rest of the world) here:

this was my first attempt at chocolate cake in any form and i somehow pictured way more chocolate in the ingredients. instead, i found myself adding things like brewed coffee, white sugar, and brown sugar. until- hershey's cocoa powder made it's grand appearance.

sifting, whisking, and mixing are starting to become second nature for me and i am finding more confidence all across my kitchen countertops. once i put the cupcake batter into the the pans, it was time for my little chocolate lovelies to shine. closing the oven door to curtain their transformation, i began on the frosting.

i've not really had any peanut butter frosting in my life and was anxious to taste it for the first time from the labor of my own hands. i breezed through the frosting-making process, proud of my steadiness. as i turned the mixer on high, i glanced back at the recipe and noticed i made a BIG mistake. confidence, steadiness, breezing...all gone. there was supposed to be one-third a cup of heavy whipping cream and the only thing heavy was my hand as i had mistakenly added a whole cup. while this may not seem like a major blunder on the surface, but it really was in the bowl.

my visions of fluffy frosting were watered down by all the liquid. rather than starting over with limited ingredients, i ended up adding unmeasured (never a good thing in baking) doses of some of the other dry ingredients. by doing this, i of course created way too much frosting and it never got as fluffy as i wanted it to be. but, it still tasted like sweet, sugary peanut butter and i had a smidgeon of my confidence come back.

after my cupcakes came out of the oven and the quasi-frosting was completed, i moved on to making them my tribute to easter tradition. i toasted coconut in the oven on the bake setting that would serve as the nest for my little yellow birdie. in order to have the chirpy chick popping out of its coconut nest, i cheated and used an already-made peep. i'm not a fan of cruelty to animals, but it didn't bother me one little bit to rip the heads off each sugary peep in order to plop them on the cupcake. the end result was an easter cupcake, sure to delight a variety of senses. most importantly, it gave me a joy that is hard to find on a holiday away from my family.

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