Sunday, January 6, 2013

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred Seventy-Five (Terrific Truffles-But Stop Already)

Stop Already!  The kids have been obsessed this holiday season with baking.  My girth does not appreciate it.

On Saturday evening we picked up Spencer at the airport after he returned from Duluth, MN.  He and his cousin Charlie served as human couriers each way to help Grandma travel safely between their homes in NYC and Duluth, MN.  It's an incredible right of passage to have these teenage boys become the guardian over their 87 year old grandmother as she travels to visit her kids and grandkids.

In less than a decade, the roles of child and grandma, have morphed into something neither the grandchildren nor the grandparent could have imagined.  Besides adoring these boys, Grandma used to bathe, babysit, read and sing to them.

Now, what seems as nothing more than in a blink of an eye, the little boys have transformed into young men, aware, caring, and capable of taking on the role as guardian to help Grandma safely maneuver her trips through the Big Blue Sky.  And Grandma has transformed from a fierce individual ready to take on any travel itinerary to a fragile sometimes disoriented woman in her prime, who understands love, but sometimes loses track of the daily flow. Despite some confusion as she bustles through busy LaGuardia, Grandma has a certain calmness knowing that there is a trusting young man by her side to help her along her journey.

On the ride home from the airport, I mentioned that I planned on doing some baking.  Spencer chimed in somewhat disappointed.  "Mom, you plan to use the kitchen?"  I answered, "Yes, why?"  "Umm, well, I was planning to make truffles.  It's in the cookbook from the Duluth Grill where Auntie Carol works.  She got me the cookbook."

Both Tim and I smiled, "Truffles?"   What I wanted to say was "Stop Already!"  All this decadent food is, well, too decadent.  But, what could I say?  "The kitchen is yours kid."  As Grandma trusts him to courier her through her travels, I trust him to take on another challenge in the kitchen.

It was a two day and very messy project.  But the outcome was nothing less than devilish.  Here is a lovely photo.  We can't provide the recipe here, but suggest you buy the Duluth Grill Cookbook for this recipe and many more from the award winning restaurant.

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Seventy-Five (Carrot Cupcakes for Argument Sake)

The Joy of Parenting brought to you by the The Joy of Baking website.

We have been admonishing our ten-year old for too much computer time.   She reminded us that if we did more activities with her in someway, she might not be on the computer as much.   She suggested that she might spend less time on the computer if she were allowed to have some independence baking like her bigger brother has.

We reminded her that she often argues so much that we end up not doing an activity.

She disagreed.

So, her dad suggested that they make bread pudding at the suggestion of her mom.  (Dad is infinitely more patient than Mom is).

And, the kid thought the baking was a good idea, but the bread pudding was a bad idea.

So, after extensive negotiations, her dad agreed to help her make carrot cupcakes.

Dad then suggested walnuts, and the kids reminded him that nuts are optional in the recipe.  She vetoed that option.

And so goes the conversation.

And we must say that the 10 year-old carrot cupcake advocate won her case.  The confections were absolutely delicious.

This recipe is adopted from The Joy of Baking website, but modified to use spelt instead of wheat, butter instead of oil, bourbon vanilla extract instead of regular vanilla extract, and organic evaporated cane juice instead of white sugar.

For argument sake, we think the modifications make a better cupcake.

Well said, counselor.

Carrot Cupcakes:

1 cup organic white spelt flour
1/3 cup organic whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 large eggs
2/3 cup organic evaporated cane juice
2/3 cup butter softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract - (we used bourbon vanilla)
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/3 cups finely grated raw carrots 
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/4 cups  confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Carrot Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. In a medium cupcake pan,  line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Fold in the chopped walnuts (if desired.  Olivia chose not to use nuts).

In another large bowl whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Then whisk in the sugar, butter, and vanilla extract until slightly thickened. Fold in the applesauce and grated carrots. 

Then fold this mixture into the flour mixture until incorporated. Evenly fill the 12 muffin cups with the batter and bake 20 - 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:  In a separate beat the butter and cream cheese until very smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add more confectioners sugar if needed. Pipe the frosting on the top of each cupcake. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate the cupcakes until serving time. Can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.
Makes 12 cupcakes.