"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Eight is Great

My Girl is eight today.  Eight.

We kicked off the birthday festivities this morning with a little idea I found on Pinterest:

A balloon avalanche to greet her, when she awoke.  I'm sure her:  "What the?!" as she opened the door can be translated into an expression of delight.  Obviously.

This girl of mine is an utter miracle of a child.  While I know that it's a fairly common motherly thing, to see our children as miraculous - truly, she is.  Even from her birth, she has been a precious gift.  My experience with her older brother's birth was challenging, to say the least.  Miraculous, in that he came rather too near to not being in our world for long.  My girl...her birth was another kind of miracle, one that bestowed the grace of a beautiful, healthy, natural birth.  And one gorgeous chub of a baby.

This Girl is just the right kind of girl, I must say.  Her sweet generosity...her artistic beauty...the rapture with which she greets the very simplest of pleasures (a newly discovered pile of fabric scraps, a treasure trove of rocks and shells, a forgotten stash of glitter...) is balanced out perfectly by just the right amount of cheekiness.  Because we wouldn't want a child to be too good, now would we? 

As part of tradition around here, the birthday girl (or boy, as the case may be), gets to choose a special breakfast to start the day.  (And lunch, and dinner, and dessert...but we're doing breakfast just now.)  She requested chocolate muffins.  And I must admit, I was not wholly on board with this one.  I do love some chocolate, don't get me wrong.  But starting the day on what is quite nearly dessert feels even a little too naughty for me.  But she is the Birthday Girl today, and chocolate muffins it shall be.

I found a recipe here, on King Arthur Flour.  And boy were they tasty.  Definitely sweet, but not cupcake sweet.  Rich, moist, dense, with chunks of bittersweet chocolate...a very festive beginning to a day of celebration.

I hope you enjoy them...

Chocolate Muffins - adapted from King Arthur Flour
 - It is said to make 12 muffins, but my muffin tins are slightly on the small side, and I ended up with 21!


2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp espresso powder*
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk**
2 tsp pure vanilla essence
2 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider)
1/2 cup (one stick) melted butter

* I didn't have espresso powder, but I substituted an ounce of cold-brewed espresso.

**The recipe I used has since been updated, to decrease the milk to 3/4 cup, rather than 1 cup.  The site states that this results in a higher rising muffin.  I was very happy with what we made, although the batter was rather runny.  See site for details, if you wish to try the altered recipe.

To make:

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.  Line a muffin tin with paper cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients:  cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda, espresso powder (if using), and salt.  Once thoroughly combined, stir in the chocolate chips.

In another bowl, or large measuring jug, mix your wet ingredients:  eggs, milk, vanilla, vinegar, shot of espresso (if using), and butter.  Pour the wets into the drys, and gently mix to combine.  

Ladle out the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling about 2/3 full.  Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your muffin tin size, checking after about 15 minutes, with a sharp knife inserted into the center.  If it comes out nearly clean, they're done.  A few bits clinging to the knife is admirable, I think, because you don't want a dry muffin.

Serve the muffins with candles, of course, to a special birthday someone.

And to my special birthday someone...

Happy Eighth Birthday, Devin Isabella.
You are utterly and completely, a Joy to all of us.

Eight is rather great, isn't it?

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