red velvet cinnamon cupcakes

Ralph and I never used the word ‘step’ in our family language. We were never step parents. Our children were never step children. The girls didn’t like how it felt when ‘step’ was used to describe our relationship to one another. We chose to be a family and love not in a ‘you have to love me because I’m your sister/mother/father way, but rather in a patient and discovering way.

Although we never referenced ‘step’,Ralph and I were still challenged with the truth that loving a step child is different from loving a birth child. There is no physical or emotional similarity or share ancestry with a stepchild. If a bond is to form, it has to be nurtured. To grow from an earned trust and then a mutual want to like one another.

On Friday, Sara spent the day helping me finish preparing for our party. A whole day of tiny intricate details that would have anybody trying to climb out a window to escape the intensity of a Christmas crazed hostess. Not Sara. She moved through the day with the ease and confidence that comes from a lifetime spent as one of my girls. When she was small, she loved nothing better than to wear her own apron and stand on a chair next to me in the kitchen. She would ask me a million questions about whatever I was doing and always wanted to help. It was where we learned about each other.

She no longer stands on a chair while she’s helping me and her apron hangs in her own kitchen but the magic of being together in my kitchen continues. Sharing a life of cherished memories transcends sharing genes. Somewhere along our journey, we fell in love. True ‘you are my daughter’ –  boundless love…

Red Velvet Cinnamon Cupcakes

Makes 24

1 cup cake flour

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon red gel-paste food color

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin tins with paper liners or use little cardboard cupcake molds.

Whisk together all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt.

With an electric mixer or stand mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Mix in food color and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and blending well after each.

Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl – it will foam – add mixture to the batter, and blend well.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each two-thirds full.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

When totally cooled, frost with cream cheese icing.

THE LOVE: I made this recipe twice for Christmas on Carmarthen using gel-food paste in the first batch and liquid food coloring in the second. Gel-paste food color is much more concentrated than the supermarket liquid variety subsequently producing a richer color.

Thanks for reading.