Building confidence in the kitchen
I imagine every parent dreams of their child becoming adapt at a certain number of things. However, if I have one mission in life it is to erratic any gender stereotypes Jasper might be exposed to as he becomes older. Although Cameron and I maintain relatively traditional roles I want Jasper to see cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and any other number of household chores are all within his capabilities and more importantly his skill set. I like to provide Jasper with frequent exposure to making things in the kitchen and I want him to feel proud the laundry is something we happily stay on top at all times!
There is nothing like having an enthusiastic toddler living in your home to encourage breaking out the decorations for each and every holiday.
With Valentine's Day right around the corner it seemed like the perfect time to make some Valentine cupcakes. In our home, chocolate is the preferred flavor so the festive decorations are primarily in the form of sprinkles. As I watch him mix, pour or use a hand mixer I am happy to see he is confident enough to do things on his own. He might not always be the cleanest or most precise in the kitchen, but I think it is important for him to get his hands dirty and feel the transformative power of being able to create something out of nothing.
When all was said and done Jasper was mainly excited about licking the bowl, decorating the cupcakes and eating the frosting. He happily goes on his merry way and leaves clean up to me!
And here is my all time favorite chocolate cake and frosting recipe:
Beatty's Chocolate Cake
- Butter, for greasing the pans
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (Instead of coffee I use water)
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows
- 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (I omit this)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.
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