March 08, 2011

Frosting for the Cause

A few months ago, a friend posted a link to this wonderful site Frosting for the Cause.  Not surprisingly, several of us signed up to participate.  Among our friends is Tami, who has a wonderful blog, Garden, Grocery, Gadget Girl.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer this past Fall and has just finished number 5 out of 6 rounds of chemotherapy.  She chronicles her story on her blog, with humor, dignity, and honesty, all the time reminding us of her courage and strength.  Tami is a beautiful person, inside and out and through all she's been through, I never feel I can't go to her with whatever is going on in my own life.  She's an inspiration to everyone who knows her and to those who's life she touches.  I LOVE her and in her honor, I created the cupcakes below.  And here is my submission to Frosting for the Cause.

                                                                    MOM AND ME

My story began when I was very young.  My life has been riddled with family members who had cancer.  I had never heard of this disease until my paternal grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1957.  My wonderful, loving grandmother provided her own special hospice care for him in their home.  She gave him his insulin injections and tested his urine.  We would giggle when I saw his bright orange “pee.”  It was never morbid for me to be around because this wonderful woman, my grandma, made sure of it.  I was 5 years old when he passed  at the age of 52. 

Shortly after my grandpa’s death, my grandma’s mother – my great grandmother, was stricken with breast cancer.  She was well into her 90’s when she passed away from an unrelated illness.  I watched my grandmother remain stoic and strong, mostly for my baby brother and me.  But I watched my own mother become crippled with the fear that she had cancer - they called it hysterical cancer.
And then in 1989, ironically, my once vibrant, vital, hardworking mom passed away from breast cancer at the age of 62.  She was always one to take care of others, but didn’t pay much attention to the tumor that was growing inside her body - after all, she was in denial.  The fear she carried all those years, grasped her like a noose around her neck.  The doctor told me that her cancer was very slow-growing and that she probably had it for at least 5 years.  She hid it from everyone.  Her cancer had metastasized from her breast to her spine, up to her brain and left her paralyzed.  Had she gone for regular mammograms and doctor visits, I probably wouldn’t be writing about her death way before it was time.  I was so angry that her grandchildren would grow up without their Nana.  I lost the one person whom I once admired for her strength.
Two short years later, my grandmother, who so lovingly cared for her husband during his illness, was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to have a double mastectomy.  She was in her 80’s, was diagnosed early and went on to live another 10 years.  And like her mother, she died from an unrelated illness. 
I, myself, had a cancer scare in 1993.  I had a large, painful lump that was removed via lumpectomy.  It turned out to be papilloma - benign.  I promised myself I wouldn’t let my children feel the way I did when my own mother died.  Several years later I would find myself facing end stage renal failure due to Type I diabetes.  My wonderful husband donated a kidney to me.  My mom would have loved him!  And then, as I was being wheeled into the operating room, I cried.  Not because I was scared – I really wasn’t, because I was sad.  I missed my mom.  I wished she was the one holding my hand.  I missed how she held my head in her lap and stroked my hair when I was sick.  I knew she was there with me, in some way.

Through the years, I have known several women who, unfortunately had breast cancer, each with different outcomes.  But when my beautiful, funny friend Tami, whom I call Marshmallow was diagnosed with breast cancer a few short months ago, all my memories came flooding back.  She exudes the same brilliant strength that the other women in my life had once embraced.  If only my mom had Tami’s courage and my grandma had her physical strength…. If only………….  I am in awe of her.  And in her honor, I created these cupcakes. 

Peach Amaretto Cupcakes with Raspberry Mascarpone Frosting
Marcy Kaminski

Yield:  24 cupcakes

 3 cups all-purpose flour
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 2 1/2 cups sugar
 2 sticks unsalted butter -- softened
 6 large eggs
 1 tablespoon Amaretto
 2 teaspoons lemon zest
 1 1/2 cups whole milk
 4 peaches -- diced, or 1 1/2 cups diced, frozen or canned peaches, drained

 8 ounces cream cheese -- softened
 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 stick unsalted butter -- softened
 1 pinch salt
 6 cups confectioner's sugar
 2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
 2 teaspoons lemon zest
 2 tablespoons whole milk -- at a time, extra, if needed
 6 ounce container fresh raspberries -- garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Fill 24 cupcakes cups with baking papers. (I often use the nut & candy cups, just place on a baking sheet.  You’ll get 30 cupcakes.)

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. 

In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. 

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until light and fluffy.  Add Amaretto and lemon zest, beating well.  Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth.  THIS is the Beater Blade™ I used for my cupcake batter.  

Fold in peaches.  

Scoop the batter into prepared cups, filling 2/3 of the way.  

 Bake in preheated oven for 23 -28 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.  Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.  
Notice the snip on the rim of each cup.  This makes it easy to peel the wrapper off.

In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-high speed, beat together cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, butter and salt until creamy and well combined.  With mixer on low speed, beat in confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in jam and lemon zest.  Add milk if needed for piping consistency.  Pipe or spread over cooled cupcakes. Top with fresh raspberries, if desired. 

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