There’s been a lot going in 2012. Earlier this year, my office acquired the responsibilities of another country. I was also a Maid of Honor in my friend’s April wedding. And then the big one: shortly after my last post, my brother, A, had a lump on the left side of his face checked out and it was confirmed as cancer.
What’s strange is that around five years ago my oldest brother, C, had cancer in a similar location on the left side of his neck/jaw too. The news hit us hard because we have seen what C had to endure. Back when C was diagnosed, we were unaware of the suffering, the risks and the care that is needed. My mother made the decision to move in with my brother, A, during treatment and recovery. Treatment began in February and ended in April. He looks better since treatment ended and the lump has shrunk – but it’s still there. He’ll need a scan and a decision made in the upcoming weeks regarding surgery.
In the meantime, a good friend of his approached us about having a benefit for A. The benefit was held last Saturday and it was a really great turnout. My family and many of A’s friends all came together and donated raffles and food. The organizer had a talented singer/guitar player friend who donated his time and rocked the place with great classic tunes. If cancer could be beat with love and support, it wouldn’t have a chance. I made a new cupcake recipe for the benefit that involves forcing my boyfriend/sous chef to zest 3 lemons and puree a package of blueberries. It was found on Pinterest and from this blog. I’ve made it twice and received lots of compliments. It’s a keeper so I wanted to share on the ol’ bloggo:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Grated zest of 3 lemons
2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Blueberry Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup blueberry puree
2-3 tbsp blueberry juice (from puree)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
pinch of salt
5-6 cups confectioner’s sugar (don’t skimp on the sugar – especially on humid days – this frosting was almost melting off the cupcake!)
1. With a mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth.
2. The puree are the actual berries blended together until broken down into a sauce form. To get just the juice, my boyfriend/sous chef poured the puree into a strainer over a bowl, then used a spoon to push down on the puree to extract just the juice. Now you have juice in the bowl, puree in the strainer.
3. Add blueberry puree, blueberry juice, vanilla, lemon zest and salt, all into the mixer and mix on medium-low speed until well-combined.
4. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating on low speed until combined. Then beat for 3-5 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
Above is a sampling of the cupcakes I brought to the benefit. The natural juices of the blueberries really give this frosting a beautiful pinkish purple hue. Make sure to save out some blueberries for garnish at the end! It was a very hot and humid day so the cupcakes were all a bit on the shiny/melty side. This lemon/blueberry cupcake is a light and lovely dessert for spring and summer and was a big hit at the benefit AND with my coworkers!