Happy belated blogoversary

I should have posted this on Saturday, but I am bad at remembering important dates. I am well known for forgetting birthdays (sorry Mom!). If Christmas and Thanksgiving didn’t have such great marketing, I would forget them too. I didn’t make a blogoversary post last year or the year before, because…I forgot! By the time I figured it out, it seemed futile to try to fix it. But, I really wanted to celebrate this year. Why? Because of you. I want to say thank you for coming here and spending time with me. It has been so important to me.

As I look at the inner workings of this blog, I see that over three years, I have written 146 posts, some of them memorable, some of them not. I have made 53 categories for these posts and my blog seems to average around 70 hits per day. But the thing that is astonishing to me is that between all of you and I, we have made 956 comments. These comments are not just comments, they have become a conversation, and I thank you for that. This conversation has gotten me through some rough patches in my life and I love you for that.

Now, let‘s stop being so mushy and talk about important things… Let’s talk about cupcakes, because cupcakes are special. My friend Jeanne made Avocado muffins the other day and she set forth her rules about why they were named muffins instead of cupcakes. I like her reasoning but want to add my spin to it:

1. If it tastes like breakfast, it is a muffin. If it tastes like cake, it is a cupcake.

2. If it has frosting it must be a cupcake. Muffins aren’t usually dressed up for special occasions.

3. Cupcakes wear clothes (a paper liner), muffins can and often do go naked.

4. Cupcakes look good wearing candles, candles make muffins feel silly.

I hate to say it, but the whole cupcake craze that has been going on for the past couple of years has been a big failure in my eyes. I have tried cupcakes from cupcakeries and they always leave me underwhelmed. The cake is obviously homemade, but often the cupcakes are dry. The frosting is often interesting but way to sweet. I even had high hopes when one day I visited a small bakery in the middle of wine country where the baker was adding wine to the cupcakes. They were okay, but not scrumptious and if I am going to spend five bucks for a single cupcake, it better be scrumptious. My advice? Keep it simple. Make your own. You won’t regret it. I made homemade cupcakes today and they were scrumptious. I substituted honey for the sugar in the cake recipe and it made for a moist, lightly sweet, spicy cake that was as light as a pillow. The frosting was lightened up with reduced fat cream cheese and the gentle sweetness was wonderful with the spiciness of the cake.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

Cupcakes:

¼ cup salted butter, softened

½ cup honey

½ cup molasses

1 large egg

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp nutmeg

1 ¼ cups unbleached white flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ cup boiling water

Frosting:

2 tbsp salted butter, softened

2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

¼ tsp pure lemon extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, F. Line two six cup muffin tins with cupcake liners

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and honey until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses.  Beat until smooth. Add the ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and flour. Beat until well blended. In a separate cup, dissolve the baking soda in the hot water. Add this mixture to the batter and beat until smooth.

Ladle the batter evenly into the cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for five minutes or until you can safely handle them. Remove the cupcakes from the tins and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the lemon extract and beat the frosting until smooth. It was hot today and this frosting was pretty runny. If you have the same problem, put the frosting in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes or so to firm it up. Frost the cupcakes. There is just enough frosting for all twelve cupcakes, but you’ll still be able to clean the bowl, if you know what I mean….