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Make it Special with Cupcakes ..then a month of dinners


Last updated 5/8/2008 at Noon

My most famous accomplishments, highest honor and greatest fame…IF I had any of those….would pale in comparison to how I feel about being a mother. For me there is nothing more deeply satisfying than knowing I did my very best for our son Elliot.

Having said that I know that all moms do the best with what they have when they are raising their children. Some days I am in awe of how mothers worldwide manage… given the burdens they bear… as they also seek to do the best they can for their children.

So, for me Mother’s Day is a REALLY big deal. It is important to celebrate and to be celebrated in every manner possible. This year I’d suggest an even brasher idea than simply one day….make the celebration last a MONTH!

And, here’s how:

For Mother’s Day the family can take mom to breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, supper or dinner or make it for her with the special treat of one of these fantastic cupcakes at home where you can hug and kiss and tell her all the wonderful things you appreciate about her. It’s HER time to be queen.

Then in your Mother’s Day card…..purchased or homemade….include four notes with the menu for a meal you will make each week for her and / or the family during the next month. The names of the main dishes are provided today. The recipes will be printed next week.

Wow! I can guarantee that after the month of appreciation you BOTH will feel good. Giving has its own way of satisfying the giver in uncountable measures.

The inspiration for the cupcakes comes from “Cupcake Heaven” by Susannah Blake (Publishers Ryland Peters & Small) with dazzling photography by Martin Brigdale.

The cookbook came my way by accident. Lucky me! It is a small, yet delightful collection of cupcakes for many different occasions including, if you like, even weddings. The 60 recipes, whys and wherefores of ingredients and resources make it well worthwhile for almost any cook yet especially those who enjoy the creative side of the kitchen as Susannah and Martin have combined their skills to produce inspiring photographs that literally suggest you run to the kitchen and bake. Or, at least think of some reason to make cupcakes.

Lavender is one of my all-time favorite flowers thus my choice for this recipe. Susannah writes,” Subtly scented with lavender, these golden buttery cupcakes are deliciously simple with an understated elegance….the fragrant taste of the lavender flowers gives the cupcakes an elusive hint that you can’t quite put your finger on.”

½ cup sugar

¼ tsp. dried lavender flowers*

1 stick butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 cup self-rising flour

2 tbsp. milk

To decorate:

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 egg white

Lilac food coloring

12 sprigs fresh lavender

12-cup cupcake pan

12 paper cupcake liners

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the sugar and lavender flowers in a food processor and process briefly to combine. Tip the lavender sugar into a bowl with the butter and beat together until pale and fluffy.

Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, one at a time, then sift the flour and fold in. Stir in the milk.

Spoon the mixture into the paper liners. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 18 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate: gradually beat the sugar into the egg white in a bowl, then add a few drops of food coloring and stir to achieve a lavender-color frosting. Spoon the frosting over the cupcakes, then top with one with a sprig of fresh lavender. Let set before serving.

*Lavender is now available from major herb manufactures.

Just the name of these cupcakes invites delicious anticipation: “Vanilla-rich yellow cake topped with a thick layer of creamy vanilla and white chocolate cheesecake and decorated with fresh strawberries is the ultimate treat….”, writes Susannah.

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup self-rising flour

½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp. milk

To Decorate:

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped

6 oz. cream cheese

6 tbsp. crème fraiche or sour cream

1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

6 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar


12-cup cupcake pan

12 paper cupcake liners

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in, then stir in the vanilla extract and milk.

Spoon mixture into the cupcake pan (lined with paper liners). Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 18 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To Decorate: check that none of the cupcakes have risen above the rim of the paper liners. If any have, carefully sliced off the top using a serrated knife to create a flat surface.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the water. Leave until almost melted, then set aside to cool slightly. Beat the cream cheese, crème fraiche or sour cream, vanilla extract and sugar together in a separate bowl, then beat in the melted chocolate.

Smooth the cream cheese mixture over the cupcakes, up to the rim of the paper liners, then refrigerate for at least 1 ½ hours until set. Decorate with fresh strawberries, cut in half vertically, and serve.

For the cupcake batter, increase pure vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon.

Top with Buttercream Frosting and decorate with sugar sprinkles:

Buttercream Frosting:

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 tbsp. milk

¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Yellow food coloring

Sugar sprinkles

12-cup cupcake pan

12 cupcake pan paper liners

My daughter-in-law Misty is a super-mom. Surely on Mother’s Day she will know she is appreciated with lovely cards and gifts. I also believe she is inwardly aware of how vital she is to the lives of her two daughters now and even as they have children of their own. God’s words tell us that good mothering carries its seed into many generations.

Misty and I agree on many things. One is our love of both ginger and lemon flavors.

So, for Misty Bell:

“These soft, sticky dark brown cupcakes are dense and gingery and delicious drizzled with a simple lemon icing….”, is how Susannah describes this special treat.

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

¼ cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp. light corn syrup

2 tbsp. dark molasses

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/3 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

2 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped

1 cup self-rising flour

To decorate:

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2-3 pieces of steam ginger in syrup, drained and chopped

12-cup cupcake pan

12 cupcake pan paper liners

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put butter, sugar, corn syrup, molasses and ground ginger in a saucepan and heat gently until butter is melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the milk, then beat in the egg and stem ginger. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in.

Spoon the mixture in to the paper liners and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, pour the lemon juice into a bowl. Gradually sift in the sugar, stirring as you go, until smooth, thick and spoonable. Spoon the icing over the cupcakes and put a few pieces of stem ginger on each one. Let set before serving.

Here are the names of the Main Dishes that you’re going to write on notes and tuck into your Mother’s Day card. And, remember, as my father taught me, “A promise made is a debt unpaid.”

“Couscous, Corn and Bean Saute”

“Skillet Shrimp and Veggie Dinner”


“Canadian Bacon Whole Wheat


HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL MOTHERS…and those who have been like mothers to us all. JB


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