Lori and I on Lake Arrowhead
This post is for Darlene, Mary and Lori. Breast cancer has struck each of them. Darlene is my mother-in-law and she has been cancer free for 17 years. Hooray! Mary is married to my brother EJ, she has been cancer free for about 10 years. Hooray! And then Lori. My big sister, business partner, friend and nemesis. My mom was afraid we would never be friends. She is just 6 years older, so I was never old enough to be included in any of her cool plans. I always wanted to be her. She had long brown hair, I had scraggly blonde, she had boyfriends and I had Barbies. She got her license and I got a 10 speed. I was always 6 years behind her. Somewhere around my senior year of high school when she was out of college, we became friends. Inseparable friends. Now, she lives in L.A. and I live in Memphis. She has cancer, and I don't. So I am making cookies in honor of Lori and all women who are fighting. This is a guest post for Frosting For the Cause and I hope you will check it frequently. A baker/blogger like me posts there daily to tell about courageous women and make donations for the cause!
When Lori finally decided to share her diagnosis with the family, her email subject was "Water skiing saved my life." She is an amazing water skier and you will see her and her hubby Scott zipping all over Lake Arrowhead in the wee hours of the morning before the amateurs take to the water. She had a massive wipe out and called me to tell me how bruised up she was. I assured her that she would be fine, but she went to the doctor anyway. Whew! Her doctor told her to keep an eye on the bruising and tenderness and come back if it didn't heal in a timely manner. The bruises disappeared, but the tenderness in one breast did not. She went back and had an ultrasound. The tumor they found would never had been found on a mammogram. She was very lucky. So after surgery and treatment we wait for the follow ups and the magic words of cancer free. When I was deciding what to bake to honor her, I had a dilemma. I am all about sugar cookies, but the new Cancer Lifestyle that Lori has adopted excludes white sugar. So I whipped up some kooky water ski cookies at home and shot a few photos. But I knew these delicate cookies couldn't make the trip to California.
When I went to California for her surgery, I made "no white sugar" cupcakes specifically for the Frosting for The Cause. They are adapted from a recipe from Mäni's Bakery cookbook called Sweet and Natural Baking. The recipe shows a gorgeous cake, but cupcakes are more fun. These cupcakes really need to be stored in the fridge, and I wasn't sure where I could take sweets when I was in California, so these were for Lori to enjoy. I decided when I returned home I would make up a batch of ribbon awareness cookies to give to a local breast clinic. I have a friend who works at the clinic and I thought maybe I would make the cookies for the women who work there and support women in the fight every day.
Chocolate Raspberry Fortress Cupcakes
2¼ cups unbleached flour
¾ cup cocoa powder, natural, not dutch (there is a difference, here it is)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1¼ cups Fruit Sweet (a fruit juice concentrate found at the healthy store)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3 large eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake pan with liners. Sift flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl. In a large bowl, mix with a hand mixer butter, fruit juice concentrate and vanilla. When well combined, gradually add flour mixture. Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water and alternate adding eggs and water to the batter mixing well after each addition. Spoon into cupcake cups to ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to overbake. Cool completely on rack before frosting.
3 Tablespoons Fruit Sweet
2 Tablespoons honey
¼ cup grain sweetened chocolate chips (he calls for malt sweetened, but we like these!)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2⅓ cups heavy cream (yes, I know, a lot of whipping cream...)
¼ cup natural cocoa
In a small saucepan, heat the Fruit Sweet and honey until warm. Do not boil. Remove from heat, add the chocolate chips and let stand until they melt. Stir and add vanilla and whisk until smooth. Cool for about 20 minutes.
Place the whipping cream in a large bowl and whisk in cocoa and whip until soft peaks form. Add the cooled chocolate and beat until stiff. Do not overbeat. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with raspberries and chocolate drops. They are delicious. The whipped cream frosting is so light and tasty. They could use more raspberries, maybe a layer of raspberry jam before the mousse frosting. Any way you make them...just get in there and bake!