I have been working on the guest room most of the morning and the early afternoon with the goal of getting just one room exactly the way I want it. It’s a small room and as you can imagine won’t include much stuff, but still its taken much longer than I expected or intended. Part of the problem is that there are so many projects I want to work on in “The Parsonage” that in the midst of my hunt for some vase or painting to use in the guest room I was distracted by another little job that simply must be done right in that moment. [smile] I’m not entirely done as I sit down for a writing break, but the last few tasks are essentially just hanging some art and my favorite handyman is at the office. I could probably hang the art myself, but it’s much more fun to have Caleb help so I’m on pause until he gets to a stopping point on sermon prep for Sunday. [smile]
Can I make a confession? I promise to get back to the titular post in a moment, but first I must confess that despite moving in, I mean really moving in with decorating and organizing, the whole life we are building here still feels a bit surreal. It feels like we’ve been given this really fantastic house to “play” or “pretend” in. Living in the apartment with Caleb never felt that way and so I can only assume that the extra space to make my own has something to do with this feeling of “playing house.” I took a photo of the guest room last night after I had made the bed to text my family to show them that whenever one of them decides to drop in we have a bed (and now a room) ready and couldn’t stop staring at the photo. I told Caleb that I thought it was just so cute and he responded that of course it was because it was in our house. “That’s our guest room, darling.” The thought of it was much more profound to me than his simple words would indicate to someone else. Alright enough about all the adjusting that I’m discovering comes along with a move and onward to the pintrocity!
This post could also be called “How Margaret Quick Thinking Prevented Major Dental Disaster.” [smile] Caleb’s birthday was about a week ago and in advance of his party I asked what kind of cake he’d like to celebrate. True to his sweet tooth loving form he requested some kind of chocolate caramel creation. Of course my first thought was to search Pinterest for a easy recipe with a twist. I love to incorporate a twist in my baking creations! [smile] I came across a super easy recipe for a chocolate cupcake with a caramel center and knew at once it was the one to try. I’m used to making my own caramel, but realized I wouldn’t have all the time in the world and was swayed to try this recipe because instead of having to make homemade caramel it used Kraft caramel squares. The absence of homemade caramel should have been my first clue that disaster was imminent, but I so wanted it to work so I ignored any apprehensions I might have had. [smile]
The recipe called for the Kraft caramel squares to be inserted into the cupcakes for the last five minutes of baking. So dutifully I plopped one in each cupcake, but when I removed the cupcakes I was immediately dismayed to find that the caramel square had barely lost its shape let alone melt into the cake. I was so disappointed with the results that I decided to not make another batch with the caramel squares which turned out to be a good idea because it helped me discover an alternative. [smile] When the icing was finally prepared, I found that the caramel had re-hardened to form a very dense and quite brittle center that I thought for certain that meant a cracked tooth was in very near future for one of the party-goers. A quick fix was in order. So I deconstructed the existing caramel centers and filled the cupcakes with a mixture of a few of the second batch cupcakes that my oven decided it did not want to bake to perfection anyway and the caramel sauce I used for the icing. I was sure that they would still not be the best cupcakes I’ve made, but was pleased to receive rave reviews from the rest of the family at the party. My adapted recipe for chocolate caramel centered cupcakes and the recipe for caramel frosting I used is below.
Cupcakes: (from Southern Living Cookbook)
You will need: 1/2 cup shortening, 2 cups sugar, 2 large eggs, 4 (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate squares, melted, 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup buttermilk, 3/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Beat shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add chocolate, mixing well. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to chocolate mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix at low speed after each addition until blended. Add water, mixing well. Stir in vanilla. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin pans, filling each cup half full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.
Frosting: (slightly adapted from Cara’s Cliche)
You will need: 1 cup unsalted butter (softened not melted), 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 teaspoon salt, 2/3 cup caramel sauce (I used Smucker’s Ice Cream Caramel Sauce.), 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Mix butter with hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Now add the vanila, salt, caramel and vanilla. Mix until fully combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar mixing each time in between.
Filling and Assembly:
You will need: 5 or 6 baked cupcakes, approximately 1 cup caramel sauce (I used Smucker’s Ice Cream Caramel Sauce.)
Spoon out the center of each cupcake. Set aside centers in bowl with 5 to 6 crumbled cupcakes. Add about 1/2 cup of caramel sauce to crumbled cupcakes and mix until a gooey mixture forms. Squeeze or spoon about a teaspoon of sauce into each cupcake and add a 1/2 tablespoon of the gooey mixture to each cupcake center. Frost with salted caramel frosting as desired.