Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Home is Where the Heart (and Cupcakes) are..

I hadn't been home since Christmas....Christmas people! I let 8 months pass before getting home.. that's like an all time record for me!

So when I finally had a good excuse to take the time off work and get out of hot and steamy Texas I jumped at the chance.. and let me tell you, it felt fantastic.

I spent Labor Day weekend on the east coast for a few important reasons:
1. My Mom's birthday was a couple weeks ago
2. My Dad was home from Afghanistan for one of his breaks
3. My Aunt was taking her final vows as a nun
4. My youngest brother is leaving for a year abroad in Japan
5. My other brother is leaving for a year of working in Australia

So with everyone going every which way in the world, this was going to be one of the last opportunities for all of us to get together.
My "little" brothers aren't so little...

The long weekend was spent eating good food with an amazing family.

I knew I couldn't show up empty handed for this important reunion so in true Traveling Sweets fashion, I traveled the Texas to Virginia route through the airport terminals, cupcakes in tow, as a belated birthday present for my mom.

My mom is a Master Gardener so I wanted to make her something that combined her love of gardening with her love of sweets..I also wanted an opportunity to practice my flower making skills so when I found these adorable little pots at Michaels I knew what had to be done. The recipe for these light and delicious chocolate cupcakes will be at the end of the post...

Thursday night we feasted on a big ole pot of blue crabs. Any good east coast family knows a good deal on a bushel of crabs and when my mom saw $35 bushels at the local grocery store she couldn't pass it up. And so a feast was had.. I think my hands smelled like crabs for the next 2 days.

On Saturday morning we made our way up to Philly for my aunts final vows as a nun. I come from a family of foodies so when my dad suggested we leave a little earlier than planned in order to stop by one of Philly's famous cheesesteak joints all of us happily agreed.

Full of steak and cheese, we completed our journey to the Medical Mission Sisters compound in time for a birthday dinner for my Oma (grandmother) complete with Black Forest Cake- be prepared for a Black Forest Cupcake sometime in the near future!
My cousin Ciara couldn't get enough.. she had about 3 pieces..

My aunt's vows took place Sunday morning and after the ceremony we celebrated with an absolutely amazing Filipino feast and were entertained by a Filipino dance troupe.

Coming home for weekends like this make me wish we lived just a little closer to home...but at the same time, being so far from my family and friends makes me cherish my time I do have with them even more. And it's good to know that we won't be this far away forever.

As promised...my favorite Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Frosting.

Chocolate Layer Cake
Oven:350 Bake:20-25 minutes (cupackes) 40-50 minutes (cake)
Fills 3 8inch round pans or atleast 30 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, softened
16oz (1 package) of light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 8oz container of sour cream
1 cup hot water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Melt chocolate in microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.
Beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Add vanilla and then add eggs 1 at a time beating until just incorporated. Add melted chocolate beating until blended.
Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to chocolate mixture, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Beat after every addition until blended. Gradually add 1 cup of hot water in a steady stream at low until blended.
*just FYI the batter is going to look extremely thin and you might think you've messed up, but I promise you it's going to be perfect :)

Pour batter into paper lined cupcake pans.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (cupcakes) or 40-50 minutes (cakes).
Place baked cakes on cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan to completely cool or take cupackes immediately out of pan to cool on rack.

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in microwave. Stir in cocoa powder until combined. Slowly add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add more milk if necessary.

I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend.. 
anyone eat anything spectacular??

Happy Baking!