Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Notes from the Field: Until fall...

No big words here today. Just a few pictures from this summer's travels, some chocolate Nutella raspberry cupcakes from the beach last weekend and quick note to say that in my annual end-of-August fashion, I'm signing off to live the rest of summer to the fullest. 

Hope you enjoy these long days of sun as much as I will.  See you in the fall, as we close out the fourth (!) year on this little blog of mine. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Case Study 118: "The Peach Crumble"

"This is the plum season, the nights
blue and distended, the moon
hazed, this is the season of peaches
with their lush lobed bulbs
that glow in the dusk, apples
that drop and rot 
sweetly, their brown skins veined as glands
No more the shrill voices
that cried Need Need
from the cold pond, bladed
and urgent as new grass
Now it is the crickets
that say Ripe Ripe
slurred in the darkness, while the plums
dripping on the lawn outside
our window, burst
with a sound like thick syrup
muffled and slow
The air is still
warm, flesh moves over
flesh, there is no
- Late August 
by Margaret Atwood

It's hot outside. The August days march on and the air is heavy, as if every passing thunderstorm is a sign of the summer's passionate heat clashing in the sky. I crave clams. I only want rum and saltwater, and I'm pretty sure that my feet don't fit into normal shoes anymore. We are in barefoot season. Clothes are a nuisance, work is a chore and the sight of sunlight after three o'clock constantly brings to mind that Henry James poem: "Summer afternoon, summer afternoon...."

We are in the heart of summer's sweetest fruit harvest. Blackberries stain sweet honey on fingertips, watermelons provide the best hydration and the peaches are so swollen and ripe they can be sliced with a butter knife. 

Where there's seasonal fruit, there must be cupcakes, and better yet, Peach Crumble Cupcakes. 

The sweet local stone fruits of August were peeled, roughly chopped and thrown into moist vanilla and brown sugar cupcakes. I topped them with a vanilla buttercream, mixed with a scoop of whipped cream cheese for good measure. A peach's best sweetness is brought out by toasted bits, and so a crumble topping was necessary, making these cupcakes almost like mini- peach cobblers reconstructed.  This crumble consists of flour, brown sugar, crumbled walnuts and melted butter, spread on a baking tray and cooked crisp in the oven before topping. The crowning glory: I slid in a fresh peach slice for good measure.

Late August approaches, and to be honest, I'm in denial that anything close to fall could be on its way.  But luckily, somehow, time moves slowly. Three more August weekends left for these traveling summer hands and feet. Whatever they lead us to, they won't be wished away. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Notes from the Field: On baby showers...

"Snips and snails 
and puppy dog tails, 
that's what little boys are made of..."

I love a good summer party, and even more so, I love the opportunity to dream up some whimsy for them too. Today's cupcake order is in celebration of the sweet baby boy of a chic Manhattan mummy-to-be.

Devils' food cupcakes with vanilla, Nutella and salted caramel buttercreams topped with chevron safari toppers. Decadent, glamorous and oh-so-sweet for a West Village baby shower on a gorgeous summer night.