“Mama will you sing me a lullaby?” G.
“Sure buddy.” Me. The lyrics to You Are My Sunshine come imperfectly out of my mouth. I hear Johnny Cash in my head. He hears my exhausted, grating voice attempting to coax him to sleep. Unconsciously, I rub his back. His eyes are heavy, any minute now he will be dreaming. Dreaming of home? Perhaps. For now he makes his nest in a sterile hospital bed, his blankies, froggy and me, little bits of home, remain with him.
I stare at his sweet, peaceful face, more obvious to me now with his head tightly wrapped in gauze. Beneath the gauze, a constellation of small metal probes stick securely to his head, a rainbow-colored array of wires spill from the top of his head, all connecting to small a computer, recording his brainwaves. Where do you go when you disappear, buddy? Maybe this test will tell us.
I attempt to sleep in the tiny bed/chair they provide. I can’t get comfortable, my mind races and morning can’t come soon enough.
Morning breaks. The sky turns from gun-metal gray to overcast ocean blue. Lights in the building across from us become less obvious as the sky brightens. I stare out the window, not fully awake, despite nursing my second cup of hospital coffee. I gaze 9 stories down to the Healing Garden, a small bit of nature growing between two buildings, providing a bit of respite for the sick and their caregivers. A mother and son play with a soccer ball. The boy, maybe 7, no hair, runs for a bit, but he tires quickly. Mom picks him up. He finds the perfect spot on her lap and snuggles. Her body sways gently back and forth like a cradle. They attempt normalcy.
G eats breakfast in bed while watching TV. This is, by far, his favorite part of this visit. Today we go home with no real answers. Today after a short drive home, fingers crossed, we attempt normalcy, again.
Shortly, after our hospital stay I made these pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting because it felt good to bake. It felt good to give Bubba and kids cupcakes for no reason at all. After a long few days, we all needed to feel normal, less stressed. This cupcake brought us back.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
A moist pumpkin cupcake with subtle hints of ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon topped with a rich chocolate cream cheese frosting makes a perfect dessert for fall.
Cupcake recipe barely adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Frosting recipe adapted from the Cupcake Project
Ingredients for Cupcakes:
1⅓ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground ginger
¾ cup canned pumpkin
½ cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners and set aside.
Using a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
Using a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugars and oil until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Pour half of your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and fold gently. Add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently until no flour streaks remain. Do not over mix!
Fill each lined muffin cup with batter, about two-thirds to three-quarters the way full. Place the muffin pan on the center rack of your oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes, but check at 18 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when lightly touched or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute in the pan and then dump them on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost the cupcakes and store in an air-tight container until ready to serve. Enjoy!
**The cupcakes taste best the day they are made. If you need to make them a day early, store them in air-tight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.**
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
makes about 3 cups
Ingredients for Frosting:
8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder (Use good quality cocoa powder here. You will taste the difference!)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional but delicious)
Directions for Frosting:
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy or several minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioners’ sugar. Next add the cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract and orange zest. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Use frosting immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
**If you refrigerate the frosting be sure to bring it to room temperature and beat for a couple of minutes before using.**
5 New Pumpkin Desserts!
If you love cheesecake check out Baker By Nature’s pumpkin ricotta cheesecake and Jelly Toast’s mini pumpkin goat cheese cheesecakes. Such creative riffs on a classic dessert!
Halloween is coming up. Try making a classic candy with a healthy twist this year! Check out Edible Perspectives chocolate pumpkin almond butter cups. I want to eat ten of them now!
Craving a s’more? Head to How Sweet It Is for Jessica’s pumpkin s’mores tart recipe. Wow!
If you need a gluten-free pumpkin cake recipe, Alice Medrich has the recipe for you on Food 52. She rocks.