Sunday, August 1, 2010

Case Study 66: "The Summer Secret"

“There are no seven wonders of the world
in the eyes of a child.
There are seven million.”
- Walt Streightiff

Some things in life are sacred: space, Baby Jesus, and the teachings of Buddha.  And then other things in life are sacred, as in family summer ritual sacred.  In my opinion, among this second type lie some of the most amazing wonders of the world.  

Growing up, summer weeks were spent up on the Cape, and we made the most of our location, surviving mostly on the fruits of the sea alone, along with as much Emack and Bolio's ice cream and Cottage Street Bakery Dirt Bombs we could get our hands on.  But time spent on the sand was different. 

We'd drive out to Race Point, the far reaching tip of the great Massachusetts arm, also known as The End of the World, as far as I was concerned.  While the dads released the air from the truck tires, us kids would run out towards the dunes, bathing suits half on and grass between our toes, catching the sweet perfume of beach roses and salt spray from what waited for us on the other side of that tall grass.

Riding over the sand was like driving on the moon.  Up and down we went, reckless and bumpy as we rose, and weightless as we dropped down the dunes, with our windows down and some old Eagles tape singing a lullaby "Hotel California" to the nesting piping plovers on the beach outside.  Our chosen parking spot always depended on two things: extreme distance from other human beings and the ability to back the trucks toward each other, bumper to bumper, where the rear doors opened to create a closed canopy above, under which lay the perfect serving space for the Ultimate Beach Sandwich.

Bread. Peanut butter.  Banana.  Nutella.  Hershey Bar.  Marshmallow Fluff.  Who knew that six ingredients could lead to salvation?  Assembled and wrapped in tin foil for an hour, unwrapped and BAM.  World hunger: SOLVED.  Ok, well maybe the hunger of five kids, tired from having spent a few hours swimming back to shore after they've drifted nearly to the other end of the Cape on inner-tubes guided by umbrella sails, was what was solved.  But you get the idea.

"The Summer Secret" is a banana cupcake, filled with Nutella, and topped with a whipped Peanut Butter buttercream and a Hershey's chocolate dipped Marshmallow.  Fruity, nutty, creamy, sugary, chocolatey cake goodness all in one bite.  Heaven. 

I'm not quite sure how many wonders of the world exist nowadays.  I once believed there were seven, but maybe that was back in the day before the internet, or when I took the lyrics of related Fleetwood Mac songs as my bible and our family did a lot of traveling in the canyons and mountains out west.  But regardless, if I controlled the list, on it would sit this holy flavor combination.  And though I'm not sure if it holds such high revere in my heart because of nostalgia or true awesomeness, I just don't care.  Some things, my friends, are just sacred. 

"The Summer Secret"
(Makes Approximately 12 cupcakes)

Banana Cupcake
(Adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana, for garnish
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2.  Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups.
3.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  When cupcakes are completely cooled, fill with Nutella, using the cone method. 

Peanut Butter Buttercream

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter
4-6 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix peanut butter until smooth, and add in the vanilla.

2. Add 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined. Mix in ¼ cup milk.
3. Mix in remaining cups of confectioner’s sugar, and additional milk depending on consistency and preference.
4. Frost cupcakes, top with a half chocolate dipped marshmallow, go for a swim, come back, DEVOUR.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Hi! I don't know if you remember me but I met you at Chris and Kelly's shower. Your blog (and not to mention the cupcakes) is just lovely. See you at the wedding!...Kim