The Right Move & Caramel Corn Cupcakes

IMG_7377If you‘re off to Philadelphia this morning

And wish to prove the truth of what I say

I pledge my word you’ll find

The pleasant land behind

Unaltered since Red Jacket road that way.

Still the pine woods scent the noon

Still the cat bird sings his tune

Still autumn sets the maple-forest blazing.

Still the grapevine through the dusk

Flings her soul-compelling musk

Still the fire flies in the corn make night amazing!

They are there, there, there, with Earth immortal

(Citizens I give you friendly warning).

The things that truly last when men and times have passed.

They are all in Pennsylvania this morning”

~Rudyard Kipling

One of the more dramatic decisions I (we) made within a year of William’s death was to move to Pennsylvania. Twenty three years of happy memories came to a sudden halt with a single knock on my kitchen door by a US Navy chaplain. It was clear at the time that the constant reminders of him in the house were not allowing me to move through my grief with any sort of dignity. It was hard to function, but would leaving feel like a betrayal? It was a hard decision to say good-bye to the only home he ever knew. I had to trust my instincts. It took courage.

Will

I am 100% certain William would love where we live now in Chester County, PA. First, I am within a short driving distance of his sister. William was most happy when surrounded by those he loved. Family being his top priority, he’d be glad that I can see Caitlin and Sam at the drop of a hat. Second, he would adore this natural setting away from the big city. With hiking trails right off the backyard and a healthy pond to fish in he would have felt right at home. With permission, I believe, one can bow hunt the land, so it’s a certainty he would have paid a visit every hunting season, too.

“I whistled to confuse him, mom, and then took the shot”. Will’s first deer.

Now, I am not suggesting that a dramatic change like a move is right for every grieving person, but looking back and forward it was the right move for me. Have courage and just do what you need to do to take care of yourself and the rest of your family. Trust your instincts and make the right move.

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Today, I am making another right move. I’m not jumping on the “fall”-on court blog press of every recipe containing pumpkin or squash. I’m just not ready for pumpkin-palooza. Maybe next week, but not now. I have decided to ease into autumn a bit slower since sweet corn is still available here in Pennsylvania. I am making the most of it with this corn cupcake.

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Make no mistake this is a corn cupcake and NOT a crumbly muffin or bread. While the caramelized butter adds a nuttiness to the batter the pureed corn adds moisture and sweetness. The caramel frosting doubles the pleasure and can be piled on for those with a big sweet tooth or if you are anything like me…just enough to kiss the cake.

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Caramel Corn Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes

1 and 2/3 cups (210g) all-purpose flour (King Arthur Flour recommended)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup cooked sweet corn kernels (from 1 fresh ear of corn)

3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk

1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted and caramelized*

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons bourbon, optional

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg whites

Frosting

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3-cup heavy cream

1-tablespoon bourbon or 1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a standard 12-count muffin pan plus 4 more cups in another pan with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. In food processor or blender, combine corn and 1/2 cup buttermilk; process until smooth. Strain mixture thru a fine sieve pressing down to collect as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids in the sieve. Combine the pureed corn mixture and remaining buttermilk (you should have 1 full cup of liquid). *To make the caramelized (or brown butter) melt the butter over medium low heat in a light colored pan, swirling the pan often. After about 5 minutes the butter with start to foam and “spit” as it evaporates water. The milk solids will fall to the bottom of the pan and turn a nutty brown. Immediately pour butter into a mixing bowl; let cool 5 minutes. Whisk in sugar, bourbon, vanilla and corn-buttermilk mixture until blended. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients blending just until dry ingredients are moistened and no lumps remain. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks; gently fold into cupcake batter. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake 22 to 24 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

For frosting: In a heavy bottom medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and bourbon, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for about 3 minutes or until darkened in color but not burnt. Transfer mixture to a heatproof mixing bowl. Stir in salt. Let cool for 20 minutes or to room temperature (don’t refrigerate). With electric mixture, beat in just enough powdered sugar to desired thickness for frosting. Makes enough for 16 to 24 cupcakes depending how much frosting you like.

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19 thoughts on “The Right Move & Caramel Corn Cupcakes

  1. While places are potent with important memories (and therefore can be both full of delight and full of pain), “home” is truly centered around the hearts of the people we love. As your post so clearly shows, your moving didn’t leave Will behind; you carried him with you to his new home.

    Your recipe for your corn cupcakes (and your amazing images of them) is something I wish I could share with Meghan. She loved having baking adventures in the kitchen; her last big one was making dessert for our 2013 Christmas Eve dinner with the Boyadjians. She and Sarah were making a chocolate ganache cake, but when they discovered they didn’t have another cake pan for the second layer, they turned the remaining batter into chocolate ganache cupcakes. Both desserts were extraordinary.

    Thank you always, Lisa, for your posts. They always remind me of what we have in common and are as comforting as a wonderful, shared meal.

    • And thank you for being here with your loving and ever so eloquent comments. I regret never having baked with Meghan.

      • Meghan would have loved working with you in the kitchen on almost any item. Watching Meghan during her college years, I discovered that, unlike her mother, Meghan loved working alongside another chef while creating amazing dishes or meals … she liked the collaborative process, especially when she was experimenting with a dish … (Eileen, by contrast, avoided sharing a kitchen when she was preparing something whenever possible. “Too many cooks ….” was her motto … lol).

    • These cupcakes should remind you of the best kettle corn you ever tasted—minus the crunch. They’d be great decorated with a few popped kernels

  2. I often think that I would like to move and start all over again especially now that my oldest is away in Virginia attending college, but for now my son and daughter want us to stay in our house. As time unfolds things may change.
    I love Pennsylvania, and we spent a lot of time there. Our last vacation, the April before Aidan died, was spent in Hershey Park and Philadelphia. That foodie loved the Reading Terminal Market.
    My daughter and I are baking right now, and we put these on the list for next Sunday. They look really good. I’m glad I’m still seeing corn at the farmers market!

    • Glad you have fond memories of PA. Clearly, Aidan got his love of food and cooking from you. Happy to hear you and your daughter share that love, too. What did you bake?

      • Sadly, Molly hates to cook (she loves to eat sweets), but I think she does it because Aidan and I use to cook every Sunday. We made brown butter sea salted chocolate chip cookies to send to Kyle( a favorite of both my boys) , an apple pie and a shepherds pie for dinner. She also doesn’t like to clean up after. Lol

      • That all sounds fantastic and I am certain that Molly will always be grateful for the time with you. Like her-I hate the clean up, too!

  3. How beautiful the poem. I feel so blessed to live in Chester County too. Pennsylvania is such a beautiful state with stunning vistas everywhere. I think you are right in that Will would have loved it here as much as you. How brave you and your husband were to move away from your home. Your blog never fails to inspire and soothe.

    • Very fortunate to move to this new place because the people who live here are fabulous, too. Don’t know if I ever shared this “whoosh” moment, but on the first night here I woke up with the vision that William was right outside in the driveway, on a motorcycle. He was scanning the back yard with a big smile on his face.

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