Monday, September 12, 2011

Childhood Memories Sweeten the Transition into Adulthood

First things first: If you like butterscotch, buttercream, and/or cream soda, this post holds the recipe for you! Read on!...

The immediate post-college time period represents a dozen mixed feelings:
  1. Sad to leave school friends behind
  2. Excited to cuddle with my dog
  3. Exhausted from four years of sleep deprivation
  4. Relieved to finally have a moment's rest
  5. Bored for lack of work
  6. Eager to find a job
  7. Apprehensive about starting a career path
  8. Longing for easier childhood days
  9. Impatient for my adult life to get going
  10. Regret about claiming to feel a dozen emotions and not just “a few”
  11. Embarrassment for making such a blunder (and admitting it here)
  12. Determined to complete the list anyway
  13. Proud of one more little success 

And there you have it — a BAKER’S dozen conflicting emotions about this odd transition in my life from school girl to working girl.

Yes, you read that right. Working girl!

Ironically, in the time between baking a batch of cupcakes symbolic of my childhood and decorating them, I was offered my first out of college job — an internship in Boston with Connected Living starting almost immediately.

I’m moving up soon and getting ready to spend at least the next six months in Bean Town working hard to help elder communities get connected online by day and eating lots of Clam Chowdah and watching Red Sox games by night.

I can already see those Fenway lights…

Speaking of lights, how about those Wolverines in their first game under the new lights at the Big House! Best and most emotion-jerking last two minutes of a football game I think I’ve ever seen. GO BLUE!

And now for the main event of this blog post: (announcing my new job and giving a big shout out to my football team were just extra fun bonuses)

What were those unidentified cupcakes in the Saturday care boxes?

For the answer, I’m going to tell a story.

When I was in elementary school, one of my Boston Aunts sent me a book for a birthday present or a Chanukah present (or Valentines Day or Labor Day, who knows?) and I set it aside for a few months before I read it.

When I first read this book, I was about 10 years old, which was just one year shy of the main protagonist’s age in the book. I was immediately drawn into his magical world of moving staircases, talking portraits, and jumping chocolate.

This book was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Had you figured that out already?

I read all of the consecutive books as soon as they were released, ending with the seventh book when I was 17-years-old (just like Harry!).

For over 10 years, the Harry Potter books and movies provided hours of entertainment and sparked all kinds of fun games often revolving around candy such as Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans (I double dog dare you to eat a booger-flavored one!).

Throughout college, Harry Potter held a place in my heart and my college curriculum — Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was assigned reading in my Children’s Literature class last year.

A Michigan Quiddich team was formed and competed against other schools in the Ann Arbor Arboretum.

The snitch was a cross-country runner

And Harry Potter World was built into Islands of Adventure! Here’s my sister and her friend when we went last year over winter break.

Incredibly long lines, but everything was worth the wait!

One of the greatest enjoyments in Harry Potter World (second only to the Forbidden Journey ride) is the refreshing butterbeer, served cold or frozen at several stands scattered throughout Hogsmeade. My frozen butterbeer tasted like a cream soda slushy with butterscotch goodness mixed in. It was delicious.

Since Harry Potter World opened, I’ve seen many renditions of butterbeer cupcakes crop up (especially around the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

That's my souvenir Butterbeer cup in the background
These butterbeer cupcakes from Amy Bites have been flashing persistently on my ever-growing to-do list and I decided to make them in addition to the team spirit cupcakes because I just didn’t want to put them off any longer.

This three-part recipe is easier than it seems. It makes 18 cupcakes, but I wanted to make 12 regular sized cupcakes and 12 minis. I ended up with a little extra batter, so it's a good thing I just bought these handy silicone cupcake liners:

Butterbeer cupcakes filled with Butterscotch Ganache Topped with Butterbeer frosting. (Recipe from Amy Bites)
Makes 18 cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cream soda 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan (and/or grease silicone liners)
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl
  • In another bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy
  • Add sugars and cream well
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each one
  • Beat in vanilla and butter flavorings
  • Alternate adding flour mixture, buttermilk, and cream soda until everything is well incorporated
  • Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full and bake 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool completely on wire racks before adding ganache and frosting

  • 1 11-ounce package of butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • In a double broiler, heat butterscotch chips and heavy cream and stir occasionally until smooth
  • Allow to cool to room temperature before using

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • milk or cream as needed
  • Cream butter until fluffy
  • Add ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt and mix well
  • Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until desired constancy is acquired
  • Add milk or cream 1 teaspoon at a time as necessary (I added 2 teaspoons of buttermilk)

  • Fill a squeeze bottle with the ganache and insert into center of cupcakes, squeezing until the filling begins to overflow
  • Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes and drizzle with some more butterscotch ganache

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