There, she played for hours pretending she was driving a car, humming her favorite rhyme she's hooked to these days. The Driving In My Car by the Mother Goose Club. A rhyme that I don't remember learning myself as a kid. We play and listen it in loops, in good doses enough for both of us to know it by heart. She played and played, hopping from one to another at intervals, fluttering her petite pink frilly skirt each time with her moves, the characters of disney fairies flying all over with their wands on her tees, like they were in game with her, crooning through and pretending to drive. 'Mama, why is there no seat-beat in my car like Mama Goose has?', she asked. It's sometimes tough to convince her.
My favorite spot in the mall is the Barnes and Nobles bookstore for two reasons I love. One, she gets to play Lego and two, I get to read. It makes me pretend I own that bookstore, at least momentarily. Wouldn't it be nice if we all had one such big library at home? Oh yes. I dream all the time. I tell my husband - 'we'll have a nice library at home some day'. We are not voracious readers, yet, I am convinced there would be enough to stack up there - handful of my favorite collections, classics, magazines, my books of art, his books of birds, geos and travel, my ever-brimming collection of cookbooks and enough that will come in years from my little one too. A quaint little space of our own which will have silence like none. Where, the only sounds came from flipping of pages, clattering of the coffee cups, may be crunch from a cookie or two or the bat of eyelids to adjust glasses. Books stacked in wooden cabinets from their floor to ceiling, corner to corner, a big wooden armchair and a coffee table by their side, like the one this bookstore has. It's always full, occupied by aged folks in their 60s and 70s mostly. Retired and settled in life. They are the ones who have ample time in the world to sip coffee over hours and bury themselves behind books. To squander their day flipping pages in slow motion, adjusting glasses that have grown older and heavier like their age. There's no worry or hurry to get back home or anywhere, like we do.
So there she was, perched on the gray baby couch at the play table with piles of blocks that I had emptied from the bucket. Sadly, those blocks in same colors and shapes have been cornered with remote interest at home. There are wooden trains and rails for her to explore, well, just in case she lost her interest in these. I stood behind her with my presence lingering around so she could tap me from the corner of her eyes. It matters the most to her, least she knows mama dear is just around. My eyes gently wandering around for books that interest me the most. Legos are for her, not me; I make them mine for her. Its not time for fiction, nor classics. They need hours, not minutes that I have at hand. Spirituality and religion have a long long way to go. Magazines go into my bag for billing. Cookbooks are just what I need. Deep there with my eyes fixed, as I scanned books after books, there came a recipe for blackberry tea cake from one among them, 'English Tea and Cakes'. That reminded me of the box of berries we bought a fortnight ago. They just needed the right recipe to be consumed.
Boxes of little black jewels, plump and rounded, stay stacked in my fridge since over a week. I could string them to a beautiful necklace or stud a couple of ear danglers, oh the little darn beauties they were; but I held them - for a dear recipe instead. Enough berries were smothered in bananas berry smoothies to bore all. A berry tea cake from this cookbook was inspiring, however not far from the pound cakes I made in the past. I gorge a lot of it when I bake big batches of tea cakes, loaves or brownies, so it wasn't the day for another tea cake or a loaf. I had promised myself to resist. Patience, I know is tough. Persistence, is even tougher. Instead these tiny bites of my all time favorite brownies interspersed with these black jewels were made. These cupcakes help me resist that urge. The urge to eat a ton. Like a glutton. The urge to taste the ingredients, the batter, the after baked test tasting, the break snacking and mid night cravings, slices after slices. Mini treats like these keep me in curb.
I would hate to admit if someone asked me, 'How many cupcakes did you consume in a go?'. Half a dozen? Or did I miss anymore?
Blackberry Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Loosely adapted from Joy the Baker
1/2 stick salted butter (or 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate (72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla powder (or extract)
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
10 blackberries, sliced to quarters
8-10 pecans, chopped
Chocolate Ganache for Frosting
Handful of blackberries for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare mini cupcake moulds separately. I did not have a cup cake tin / muffin tin. Hence these cupcakes are free standing ones.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium steel heat proof vessel. Once the butter has melted and is hot, remove from heat and add chopped / grated chocolate. You can do this in a double boiler method too, however I like it this way since it consumes less time and is faster hence. Stir well so that the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Whisk well and allow to cool to room temperature. Then add in sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk well. Add the blackberry slices and pecans and whisk them in. Pour into the prepared paper cups, up until 3/4th of each cup and bake for 10-12 minutes. Keep a firm eye on them so that you don't over-bake.
Allow to cool these cupcakes completely on a wire rack. Then frost with a topping of your choice. I chose a Chocolate Ganache frosting, the recipe for which can be found here. Stud each cupcake with blackberry.
If you skip the berries and choose to bake these brownies alone, they may be slightly more cakey in nature and less fudgy. If you like fudgy brownies, then you can skip the baking powder and reduce the flour to half a cup in them. The blackberries add a bit of moisture to these brownies.