Finding joy and gratitude in the precious moments that we do have together is the best way to make a time of change feel a bit less like a loss; so why not enjoy these Strawberry Sundae Cupcakes while celebrating what we mean to one another?
I find it sort of interesting that I'm choosing to do a recipe post for Strawberry Sundae Cupcakes at this particular moment in life, since I'm not necessarily in the most specifically celebratory of moods, I suppose you could say.
The reason being there's a big change taking place in our family, as my hubby and I are experiencing our beloved, young son going off to boot camp to become a member of the Marine Corps.
We're at once extremely proud of him for making this decision to serve his country and to go through the intense training that's necessary to become an upstanding member of our military, yet we're also concerned for how he'll process all that he'll be going through, and how he'll manage such a huge endeavor and change.
Twelve weeks is a long time to have virtually no contact with someone you love, especially if you're a mom who's been ever-present and nurture-ready for her son for the past 18 years.
And the truth is, the whole experience is probably going to be harder on me in many ways, I'm sure.
My imagination is in overdrive at the moment and mostly includes images of our boy being yelled at by drill sergeants, worked and exercised to utter exhaustion and near collapse, asked to rise to challenges that seem beyond his capability, and generally pushed way beyond anything he's ever experienced.
And though I'm sure that all of the above is actually going to happen, all I can say is thank God that I don't have to witness it.
I'll be all ears once he comes home for a short while upon graduation to regroup before being sent back for further training toward his particular specialty, listening intently to all that happened, all he learned, and all he discovered about himself through the whole process, so far.
But I don't think that any momma-bear wants to see her child being pushed to that extent, because the tendency is to swoop in and take over for her kid when the going gets tough.
But that's not what my boy wants...anymore.
That's not what he needs.
He's becoming a young man with desires and aspirations of his own, with dreams and hopes of accomplishing things that seem way beyond his current capabilities, but that most likely, can be accomplished.
And that's the beauty (and the heartbreak) of raising a child.
It's called “growth”, and we all have a desire for it.
The point is to get our kids to a place where they can stand on their own two feet, and not continue to depend on us as their parents to always make things “comfortable”, though that's exactly what we tend to want to do.
But they need their freedom, and they need to seize their unique opportunities to evolve and become adults who will go on to do good things for others some day too.
What I'm realizing is of utmost importance at this moment, is that we have this very moment itself.
It's a moment to reflect upon our lives, our time together, and to be glad for the love that exists between us; it's also a moment to seize the future, and to evolve as a family in new ways.
Every moment that my husband and I have together with our boy is a golden one; it should be celebrated with gusto, with joyfulness, with gratitude, and with abundance of love.
What we have between us should be relished with enthusiasm and anticipation of what the future may hold for our relationship—a more mature relationship.
And so that being said, it seems that these colorful and sweet Strawberry Sundae Cupcakes are actually the perfect recipe to post right now, and make a lot of sense for us to enjoy, after all.
Celebrating all that is good and all that is in front of us in this very moment is something to be joyful and happy about, and to lift up and hold high.
Life is replete with challenging moments for each and every one of us and that is something that cannot be prevented.
But celebrating what is good, what is true, what is meaningful, and what has been accomplished and experienced so far, is what gives us the desire to take on all that life throws at us, and to accomplish what is yet to come.
So while on one hand I'm feeling a certain sense of “loss” because things are changing fairly dramatically for all of us from this point on, I also want to celebrate the fullness and the beautiful potential that resides in this moment and also in whatever time we all will have together, in a future that frankly seems so bright and full of possibilities.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Strawberry Sundae Cupcakes
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes about 22-24 cupcakes
• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
• 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
• 3 eggs, room temp
• 1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cup (scant) buttermilk, room temp
• Strawberry Buttercream (recipe below)
• Rainbow sprinkles, for decorating
• Maraschino cherries, to top
-Preheat the oven to 350°, and line 2 (12 count) cupcake pans with pretty baking cups.
-Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a bowl, and whisk together to combine the dry ingredients; set aside for a moment.
-Add the room temp butter to a electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and mix until the butter is fluffy, about 30 seconds – 1 minute; add in the sugar, and continue to mix until the sugar and butter and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
-Add the eggs in one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate before adding in the next one; add in the vanilla, and continue to combine (scrape down the bowl, if necessary).
-Begin alternating the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, beginning with ⅓ of dry ingredients allowing them to fully incorporate, then adding in ½ of the buttermilk to fully incorporate, then another ⅓ of the dry, then the rest of the buttermilk, finishing with the remaining ⅓ of the dry.
-Pour or spoon the batter into the baking cup-lined cupcake pans, about ¾ full, and bake for about 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean; allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack completely before frosting with the Strawberry Buttercream, and adding the sprinkles and a maraschino cherry to each.
Strawberry Buttercream Ingredients:
• 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
• 4 ½ cups powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons strawberry puree (*see note below)
• 3 strawberries, hulled and very finely minced
(*To make the strawberry puree, add about 3-4 medium-large hulled strawberries to the bowl of a food processor, and process until they become a puree; strain the mixture to keep the seeds out, and reserve two tablespoons; use any leftover puree to pour into lemonade!)
-To the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, add the butter and whip for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until fluffy.
-Add in about 2 cups of the powdered sugar, and whip that in until it comes together with the butter to become fluffy.
-Add in 1 tablespoon worth of the strawberry puree, and another cup of the powdered sugar, and continue to whip until blended; then, add in the rest of the puree, plus another cup of the sugar, and whip until that blends in.
-Add in the finely minced strawberries, plus the remaining ½ cup of the powdered sugar, and whip until combined and fluffy.
-Add the buttercream frosting to a piping bag fitted with a medium-size tip (you can place the buttercream into the fridge to chill for 15-30 minutes if it's a bit too soft), and frost the cupcakes as desired.