Saturday, February 13, 2010

Case Study 51: "The Honey Child"

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new

Whose name you meditate --
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

- Sylvia Plath 

To think of what I've experienced in the past year, the greatest and most foreign feeling I discovered was the love of a child.  When my nephew was born in the spring, I remember crying.  He was the first child, the grandchild, the first great-grandchild.  Let it be known, I'm nowhere even close to becoming a mother.  But this sweet dumpling has taught me a lot about life.  

He has taught me to laugh. Not only is one giggle worth a thousand swords when fighting tears, but playing with baby makes adults do deliciously silly things.  He reminds me to lighten up.  We always say "nothing can be bad in the presence of a baby."  How could it be when you're nuzzling a little pink-cheeked monkey with a crown of curls. Most of all though, he has taught me something important about life: it goes on.  

"The Honey Child" is a vanilla bean cupcake with an animal cracker crust, Italian meringue frosting and a chocolate-dipped jimmie-sprinkled animal cracker on top. Snips, snails, and puppy dogs tails aside, it is also sweet, creamy, chocolatey, and finished with a little crunch.

My grandfather unexpectedly died in November.  He was a gentle giant with big hands and a quiet, yet constant presence.  As he got older, he softened, with one remarkable thing shining clear: he was childlike.  Not childish, not petty, not immature.  Childlike. Childlike in his mannerisms and his gentleness.  Childlike in the way he acted deliberately and loved so acceptingly.  And throughout his funeral services and weekend of family gatherings, everywhere we went, the light oddly shone on one person: my nephew.  

Life is funny how it teaches us about things.  

It reminds us that we really are part of a circle.  Parents become grandparents and grandparents become great-grandparents, and in it all we share a thread of that same tiny double helix thread that makes us both ourselves and part of a beautiful chain at once. And it urges us, no matter how mature, how beaten down by reality, and how wrapped up in ourselves we get, we must try and view the world with a little more wonder and awe. To see it through the eyes of a child.

When I think about love, I think about life.  And in this little one, I have been brought nothing but joy, and the ability to see things in a different light.   

"The Honey Child" (adapted from Amy Sedaris' Cupcakes, aka the best vanilla cupcake recipe)

Animal Cracker Crust

5 ounces animal crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

1. Beat crackers until finely ground in a food processor
2. Add sugar and pulse
3. Mix in butter in cubes and pulse until combined.
4. Press into cupcake papers, and bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes or until slightly brown.

Vanilla Cupcake
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar
Beat well, then add:

Add 2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk

1.  Spoon into cupcake cup crusts.
2.  Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. 

Italian Meringue Frosting
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 egg whites (room temperature)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Mix 2/3 cup sugar and water together and bring to a boil until a temperature of 275 is reached on a candy thermometer.
2. As the syrup reaches its temperature, beat the egg whites with the
cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons sugar until the whites form soft peaks.
3. Remove syrup from heat add the syrup in a small stream while continuing to beat the mixture with the electric mixer
4. Beat about 3 more minutes. The mixture will form glossy peaks and thicken.
5. Add the vanilla and mix a bit more.  Frost the cupcakes immediately.

1 comment:

Rally said...

i love it! and he loves his aunt very much!