Everything starts anew. Year after year that I live in San Francisco, I am reminded that the fog will roll in right around my birthday. And I will overdose on peaches. I revisit the trails, mountains, and seasides that I always do. Year after year. I’ll revive my bicycle, and a few pairs of shorts that I wear, oh, roughly three times per year. Summer clothes are hardly essential in this city.
A few years ago, I thought that living the life meant traveling around, spending a year abroad, being a vagabond. I felt entrapped in my wonderful life, silly and selfish as it sounds. My problem was that I felt that it wasn’t ‘exciting enough.’ I was jealous of friends who were able to take summers off between graduate school, or quit work without having another job. Sometimes I was jealous of people who simply couldn’t understand why you’d ever want to settle down, especially in your 20s and 30s.
As my birthday rolls around, for the 29th year in a row, I am reminded that this lovely routine — the changing of the seasons, getting to know people and places you already know all over again, and feeling settled — it’s actually quite nice. I don’t have to give up my travel bug (I did just get back from New York, am flying back there next week, and then heading on a two week trip to Sicily in less than 4 weeks). But, my evening plans can include cooking from my favorite cookbook, or going for a familiar walk in Golden Gate Park. I’m quite liking it that way.
This year, my last one in my 20s, I don’t want to make some overambitious list about the 30 things I’d like to accomplish. This life is not a checklist. And I’m glad I’ve gotten here. And there, too.
Little Chocolate Cakes with Rosewater-Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
*makes 8 little cakes, baked in a popover pan
*You can use this recipe to make 12 cupcakes. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and bake for about 15-20 minutes. You may want to double the frosting recipe.
For the cakes:
1 1/2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
3/4 cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed
3 large eggs
For the frosting:
2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of rosewater (to taste)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut square pieces of parchment paper and line a popover pan with them.
2. Sift the flour and salt in a bowl. Whisk in the cocoa powder.
3. Combine 3/4 cup of butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat over medium-high until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla bean seeds and eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate. Next, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to fill the lined popover pans with batter about 3/4 of the way. Bake for about 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
5. Refrigerate leftover batter. Once the first batch has had some time to cool, line a few more openings in the pan with parchment paper and divide the remaining batter among them. Bake for another 30 minutes (or until done).
6. Allow the little cakes to cool. Then, make the frosting: combine 1/2 cup of butter with 2 cups of powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. Beat until smooth. Add the rosewater and vanilla and beat to combine. I prefer a more assertive rosewater flavor, so I add a lot to my frosting. If you prefer for it to be milder, add less. Taste before you add more.
7. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a round or star tip. Frost little cakes.
Musical Pairings: Frank Ocean – nostalgia, ULTRA. + Little Chocolate Cakes with Rosewater-Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
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