On days when I'm feeling patient and full of grace, I kneel down to their level and gently explain why I don't want to buy food that contains wild and wacky ingredients.
On other days, like today, my eyes bulge in frustration and I roar, "No, guys!! And I've already told you why a thousand times! UGGHHHHH!"
I say it too loudly, too harshly. They shrink at my tone.
As I push the cart toward the dairy case, my ducklings fall silently into place behind me, staring at their shoes.
God gently whispers to my conscience. I feel pierced through. I stop and turn around to face my boys. Squatting down to where I have to look up into their eyes I say, "Hey, boys. Mommy is sorry for shouting. That was wrong. Can you forgive me?"
"Sure, Mommy! It's OK when you shout at us, " Matthew chirps cheerfully, his heart eager to make peace. (I die inside at his words. I yell too much. IsuckIsuckIsuck. Jesus, please help me be more patient!, I plead. Help me, help me! Help me shut my mouth when I am frustrated!)
Trying to swallow the bitter bile of self-condemnation, I ask the boys, "How about we go back to that shelf? You can point out the one thing you'd like to buy, and I'll make it for you when we get home. How does that sound?"
"YEAH!", screams Matthew at the top of his lungs. He turns and skips back to the shelf. Timothy, 7, needs a little more time and space to wrap his heart around forgiving me and accepting my truce. He looks up and asks, "Is homemade always better?"
"I don't know, buddy. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't."
Timothy blows out his air and shrugs, considering. He stares at the sour cream containers in front of him for a moment. Then he looks at me and grins. He squeezes his tiny arm around my waist and sprints off to catch up with his little brother, turning to yell over his shoulder, "I forgive you, Mommy!"
Family reconciliation in Aisle 7.
(Motherhood is purifying me, one screw-up at a time.)
My children unanimously select Hostess Cupcakes.
I have a new, real-life blogging friend with a gorgeous cooking/baking blog. I recently saw a recipe for these "Fauxstess" Cupcakes on Rebekah's site.
(She uses a from-scratch recipe for her cupcakes which I whole-heartedly endorse. I "cheated" and used the boxed mix shown below. The cupcakes turned out very tasty, but they would have been even better from scratch.)
While the cupcakes were baking, I mixed together the filling which contains a very, very, very UN-real ingredient--Marshmallow Creme from a jar. Sorry. Retract in horror if you must. I was going to whip up something as a substitute, but you know what? It just is what it is. (I did find this lovely recipe for homemade marshmallow creme.)
Then, I made a ganache for the glaze. I love ganache. I love the word, love the color, love the smell; I love everything about it except for what it does to my love handles and derriere. (Here's my how-to for making ganache.)
I scraped the ganache into a deep "pool" on one side of the pot and then...
...dunked the cupcakes to coat the tops.
After allowing the ganache to "set" for about 15 minutes,
I added the trademark "swirl" with the remaining filling.
Timothy's verdict: "Homemade IS always better, Mommy."
Makes 24 cupcakes
1 (17.1-ounce) package of boxed chocolate cake mix, prepared according to directions
(Or use this or this recipe for homemade chocolate cupcakes)
Filling and Frosting Swirl:
2 cups Marshmallow Creme (homemade or store-bought)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
½ tsp. cream or milk (use only in reserved filling to be used for frosting swirl)
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped
To prepare cupcakes:
Prepare boxed cake mix according to directions. Line a standard muffin/cupcake tin with baking papers. Bake for 16-18 minutes (refer to package directions for cupcake baking time). After cupcakes are removed from the oven, allow them to "rest" in the muffin tin for about 5 minutes. Then carefully remove cupcakes (they should release from the baking tin much easier once they have cooled for a few minutes). Set cupcakes on a cooling rack. Allow them to completely cool before proceeding. (Warm cupcakes will ruin the filling and ganache topping.)
To prepare filling/frosting:
While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the filling/frosting. Use a stand mixer (or a sturdy shoulder and a good whisk and wooden spoon) and combine the Marshmallow Creme and softened butter. Mix on medium-high speed until completely combined. Add sifted powdered sugar and salt; whip until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes more.
To fill the cupcakes:
Transfer the majority of the filling mixture to a pastry bag* fitted with a medium-round tip, reserving ½ cup in the mixing bowl. (The tip I use is not labeled, but the opening is about 1/4-in diameter.) Blend in the cream to the reserved filling mixture to make it smooth for piping the swirl on top of the cupcake. Transfer this to another pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (I used the equivalent of a Wilton #3). Chill both filling bags until ready to use.
To fill the cupcakes, insert the pastry tip directly into the center of each cupcake and squeeze in a "dollop" (sorry--I don't have a more precise measurement) of the marshmallow mixture. If excess filling oozes out, scrape it off with a knife so the top of the cupcake is essentially smooth.
Chocolate Ganache Glaze:To prepared glaze, heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat. When cream is steaming (don't let it boil), remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Whisk mixture until all chocolate is melted and smooth (it will thicken as it is whisked).
After cupcakes have been filled, "dunk" the top of each cupcake (one at a time) into the ganache glaze. If some of the creme filling streaks through the chocolate, spoon a small amount of the glaze directly onto the streaked area. Allow the glaze to set (about 15 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen...if it's warm it will take a little longer. You can refrigerate the glazed cupcakes to speed the process along.).
After glaze has set, pipe the trademark frosting swirl on the tops of the cupcakes using the reserved marshmallow filling.
Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate if you will be storing them longer than 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*If you don't have a pastry bag, or if the idea of using a pastry bag makes you want to run down the street waving your arms and screaming wildly (I understand!!), use a zip-lock bag with a small corner snipped off to hold and disperse the filling. Use the handle of a wooden spoon (or something equivalent in size to a small dowel rod) to poke a small hole in the top of the cupcakes, then squirt in some of the filling. It might not be as pretty as cupcakes filled with an actual pastry tip, but at least you won't go crazy in the process.