I like to keep things pretty realistic here on the blog. Over the years my blogs have morphed from being stream of conscious postings, to stream of conscious plus a lot about food and photography to what you are reading now – a food and garden blog.
It’s a food and garden blog that is being written by a real person though, and sometimes among the cookies and flowers, real life wiggles it’s way in. That is where I am this week.
My Dad is having some very distressing health struggles right now, at a time when we expected the worst of things to be behind him. After 3 years on the kidney transplant list, he finally got a kidney last fall. Without going into a lot of detail, suffice it to say that he has not had an easy recovery. Still, last week, he and Mom were able to return home finally, which was a big relief to all of us.
This week, he is back in the hospital after suffering a seizure of unknown origin, that has left him not quite himself. He is improving, but very slowly. I’m over 2000 miles away though, and struggling with the idea of flying out there, when doing so would likely not help very much, while waiting awhile, very likely will. It’s hard.
People relieve stress in all different sorts of ways. If it were summer, I could get rid of some frustration by pulling weeds, but the ground is frozen, removing that as an option. So – baking is the obvious choice. And something chocolate please, like cupcakes. The cupcakes in these photos are the recipe from the Hershey’s® cocoa package, a long time favorite – very rich and moist.
They need vanilla to balance out the richness of the chocolate though, and this frosting will work perfectly. It’s a simple recipe, with the exception of dealing with the vanilla bean which you may find intimidating, though often the most intimidating thing about vanilla beans is paying for them. I get mine on ebay, where they are much cheaper. Just make sure you read the reviews to see what other buyers have thought about the quality of the beans a seller offers. In a pinch, a teaspoon of good quality pure vanilla extract will work.
- 4 ounces soft butter
- 4 ounces room temperature cream cheese
- seeds scraped from ½ of a large vanilla bean
- pinch of salt
- 4 cups confectionery sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons cream or half and half
- Using the whisk beater of your mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese.
- Beat in the vanilla bean scrapings and salt.
- Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating very very well after each addition. [start out at a low speed each time to prevent the sugar ending up all over the place]
- Add the cream, one tablespoon at a time, until it is of spreadable consistency. Beat another minute or so for maximum fluffiness.
- Can be used right away, but if allowed to sit at room temperature for a couple hours, the vanilla flavor will become more pronounced.
- Should be stored refrigerated.
This frosting, on these cupcakes packed a double whammy – not only is baking therapeutic, eating cupcakes is even more so. Pulling weeds would be easier on the waistline, no doubt, but cupcakes make me feel better.
I know a lot of you are friends on Facebook, and have expressed your concerns and prayers for all of us and I really appreciate that. We are a family that believes deeply in prayer, so if in reading this, you want to send up a few more prayers on my Dad’s behalf, I thank you in advance for that.
I wish I could give you a cupcake in person, but at least with this recipe, you can reward yourself by baking some.