I thought I could contribute something to the theme of change.
I guess what I have come to understand in the last few days is that change can happen slowly and it can also happen so fast that it gives you whiplash. I guess one of the most hurtful of changes is losing someone that you love and care about.
Heartbreak. It’s crushing. You feel like your chest is being physically forced inwards. You can’t breathe, you feel sick and it all seems to spill out of you in the form of endless tears.
Two weeks ago I was given the most amazing surprise ever. My boyfriend (well assumed anyway – there was never an official ceremony of status-defining) at the time told me via a mysterious card to my work desk to leave my flat between the hours of 8 and 9pm that Friday evening. I returned to find that he had flown up from Dunedin only to be standing there in my kitchen. My body shook with shock. It was the best feeling. The following weekend I flew down and spent the weekend helping out his broken body (turns out exercise is a direct cause of broken collar bones). Both weekends were wonderful. I usually only got to see him once a month or so, so two weekends in a row was a real treat. Everything seemed to be great.
Twelve hours after I kissed him goodbye at the airport to fly back home he called me. In twelve hours this wonderful thing I thought we had hurtled into a brick wall.
In all fairness he did the honourable thing, for which I am proud. He was honest. I think a lot of males could take a leaf out of that book. It hurt him to say what he did, but in the end it would have happened sooner or later. After all, he had no plans of staying in the country next year. I don’t hate him. Not at all. Quite the opposite. I just miss him. After that phone call ended I felt like I had lost my person. The person I tell everything. The person who is the first to know any exciting news. The person who tells me everything will work out. It takes time to adapt to such a sudden change. Little things remind you of that person all the time and it hurts, it hurts deep inside of you. I still text him. We both find it easier that way. Makes it less of a shock to the system and makes the void seem a little less empty. All I really want to do though is to hug him and for him to tell me it will all be all right.
I made these cupcakes with him for his friend’s welcome to Auckland party the same weekend he came to surprise me. Writing about these has been interesting. Half of me mourns those wonderful times we spent together, but the other half celebrates them and is so grateful that they were able to happen in the first place.
I got given a crème brulee torch for Christmas two years ago and never managed to get around to filling it with butane. He did that for me. He also fixed all the broken things in our flat.
His friend loves s’mores so in amongst the Cake Days book by the Hummingbird Bakery in the UK we found a recipe for s’more-inspired cupcakes, which was perfect because I happened to now have a blow torch full of butane.
I thought the meringue needed more sugar in it to make it firmer and since I am greedy I used about half a packet of digestive biscuits and inserted a whole piece of chocolate into each one.
Apparently you can grill the tops of these under high heat for a few moments. I didn’t try this so you will have to experiment. Blowtorches are available from good homeware and food equipment stores. We used reasonable-sized cupcake cakes so we only yielded 14 of these babies.
Adapted from the Hummingbord Bakery Cookbook
12-14 pieces of good quality dark chocolate (for the inside of each cake)
half a packet of digestive biscuits
80 g butter, softened
280g caster sugar
200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the topping
250g caster sugar
4 egg whites
12-14 more pieces of a good dark chocolate to decorate
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees on bake and line a medium sized muffin pan with cupcake cases of your choice.
Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa and baking powder until a fine, sandy texture is achieved. Whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl or jug. Beat the dry mixture and slowly pour in the wet ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and smooth.
Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases until they are two thirds full. Insert a piece of chocolate into each case. Roughly crush the digestive biscuits and evenly distribute the pieces over the tops of the cupcakes.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the sponge bounces back to a light touch or a skewer when inserted comes out clean. If you listen to them, the cupcakes should still make a gentle sizzling sound when you remove them from the oven.
Transfer the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
To make the meringue for the tops, heat the sugar and the cold water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until foamy. Continue to heat the sugar syrup until it has reached the soft ball stage (5-10 minutes).
Remove from the heat and while beating the eggs at the same time, slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites. Continue beating until the meringue has increased in volume and become quite stiff and glossy.
Spoon the meringue onto the cooled cupcakes and use a knife or a spatula to swirl it into a decorative design.
Take your blowtorch and carefully brown the surface of the meringue by holding it about 10cm away from the outlet. If using a grill, heat the grill on your oven to maximum. Place the cupcakes on a tray and slide underneath the grill for a few seconds, keeping a careful eye on them as they will burn quickly.
Place another piece of chocolate onto each cupcake to decorate.
Enjoy and prepare to get gooey meringue all over your nose!