I've had reason to prepare a meal or two lately for another family. Sometimes I feel like it's a major chore to get food on the table in the evening for my own family, let alone for another. But really, when you are fixing something for your own...it's just as easy to double it all and put together the same for someone that is going through a tough time.
One of my dearest friends from 6th grade on up is dealing with breast cancer right now. We haven't stayed in the best of touch over the years. She got married right away and started a family in our hometown, while I ran off to college and lived in, what seemed like, a different world than hers. Sure, we attended each others weddings and sent/received birth announcements, but it wasn't until our 20th high school reunion that we reconnected.
I was really torn up when I heard the news that Heidi had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had always heard that everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed. Secretly, I always thought to myself, 'I don't know anyone.' I wanted to keep it that way. And then the news about Heidi came out and then she became "my person." I didn't want to have "a person."
There's a wonderful website called Take Them A Meal and the long and the short of it is that it provides a forum for setting up a meal delivery schedule for families in need. You send out the email notice to the people you most think will participate, include any food allergy information and people just sign up with what they'll bring (so you don't get too many lasagnas!) and when it will be brought. It is pure genius and I wish I'd thought of it.
I remember years ago when I first decided to be a stay-at-home Mom. The job I had most-recently been in was in a small office with two other men. All of my girlfriends from college had moved away to other cities and to be honest, I did not have a lot of close friends who lived in the area where I was living. I panicked when I thought, 'What if something happens to me? Who will bring meals to my family?!' Thankfully, I have a wonderfully huge network of girlfriends that I know would keep my husband and children well-fed if the circumstances ever required it. Let's hope the unthinkable never happens to me. I just wish it had never happened to Heidi.
When I took a meal to her family recently, I wanted to bake something special (yet simple) for dessert - not the typical and ever-predictable chocolate chip cookies. Though I never met a chocolate chip cookie I didn't like. I just wanted something maybe they'd never had before, but would keep well sitting on their kitchen counter.
These Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes came to mind almost instantly. I first made these when I spied the recipe in the July 2007 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. I made them for a Fourth of July family cookout that year and they were so well-received that I decided to keep the recipe. I remember not telling anyone about the peanut butter surprise hidden inside. I get that sneaky trait from my Grandma Blue. She was known to put a fake ice cube containing a fake fly in someone's water glass one Christmas!
So watch out!
Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
Here's What You Need:
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
10 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 2/3 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 Tablespoons milk
Here's What You Do:
In a bowl with the mixer on medium speed, mix the powdered sugar, peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons butter and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until blended. Shape the mixture into 24 balls using a heaping measuring teaspoon. Place them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper cupcake liners. To prepare the cupcakes, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Gently whisk to combine. In medium bowl, mix sour cream, milk and remaining vanilla. Set aside. In a large bowl, with a mixer, combine the sugar and remaining 8 Tablespoons butter just until blended. Increase the speed to high and beat for one minute. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat one to two minutes more or until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat just until all ingredients are combined.
Spoon 1 heaping measuring tablespoon of batter into each cupcake liner. Then drop one peanut butter ball in the center of each cup.
Top each with another heaping tablespoon of batter. Bake the cupcakes for 25 - 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Immediately remove the cupcakes from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
When the cupcakes are completely cooled, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, with mixer on medium-low speed, beat the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and 3 Tablespoons milk until smooth and blended. Beat in additional milk as needed for easy spreading consistency. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl often. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes.
Not responsible for the hugs of pure joy you will get when you serve these!