Thursday, February 12, 2015

And the Birthday Celebrations Continue with Chocolate Truffle Red Velvet Cupcakes

It's the birthday of two men who were born on exactly the same day in 1809: Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. Author Judy Blume was also born on February 12, but in 1938.

Little Known Facts About Abraham Lincoln

  • Lincoln is enshrined in the Wrestling Hall of Fame. Defeated only once in approximately 300 matches, Lincoln reportedly talked a little smack in the ring. According to Carl Sandburg’s biography of Lincoln, Honest Abe once challenged an entire crowd of onlookers after dispatching an opponent: “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.” There were no takers. Lincoln’s grappling exploits earned him an “Outstanding American” honor in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. 
  • Lincoln created the Secret Service hours before his assassination. On April 14, 1865, Lincoln signed legislation creating the U.S. Secret Service. That evening, he was shot at Ford’s Theatre. Even if the Secret Service had been established earlier, it wouldn’t have saved Lincoln: The original mission of the law enforcement agency was to combat widespread currency counterfeiting. It was not until 1901, after the killing of two other presidents, that the Secret Service was formally assigned to protect the commander-in-chief.  
  • John Wilkes Booth’s brother saved the life of Lincoln’s son. A few months before John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln, the president’s oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, stood on a train platform in Jersey City, New Jersey. A throng of passengers began to press the young man backwards, and he fell into the open space between the platform and a moving train. Suddenly, a hand reached out and pulled the president’s son to safety by the coat collar. Robert Todd Lincoln immediately recognized his rescuer: famous actor Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes. 
  • Lincoln is the only president to have obtained a patent. Benjamin Franklin isn’t the only American political leader who demonstrated an inventive mind. After being aboard a steamboat that ran aground on low shoals and had to unload its cargo, Lincoln, who loved tinkering with machines, designed a method for keeping vessels afloat when traversing shallow waters through the use of empty metal air chambers attached to their sides. For his design, Lincoln obtained Patent No. 6,469 in 1849. 
Interesting facts about Charles Darwin
  • Charles Darwin Married His First Cousin Emma Wedgwood. The couple was married for 43 years before Charles passed away. The Darwins had 10 children total, but two died in infancy and another passed away when she was 10 years old. 
  • He was an Abolitionist.
  • Charles Darwin Influenced the Early History of Psychology. The reason Darwin is the most celebrated of the contributors to the Theory of Evolution is because he was the first one to identify evolution as a process and offered an explanation and a mechanism for the changes that were occurring. When psychology was first breaking away from biology, the proponents of functionalism modeled their ideas after Darwin's way of thinking. This was in stark contrast to the existing structuralism line of thought, and brought about a new way of looking at early psychological idea 
Judy Blume,writer of juvenile and adult fiction. Founder and trustee of KIDS Fund, 1981.
  • Since she published her first book in 1969, Blume has become one of the most popular and controversial authors for children. Her accessible, humorous style and direct, sometimes explicit treatment of youthful concerns have won her many fans—as well as critics who sometimes seek to censor her work. Nevertheless, Blume has continued to produce works that are, according to critics, both entertaining and thought-provoking. 
  • Many critics attribute Blume's popularity to her ability to discuss openly, realistically, and compassionately the subjects that concern her readers. Her books for younger children, such as Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, and Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One, deal with problems of sibling rivalry, establishing self-confidence, and social ostracism. Books for older readers, such as Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Deenie, and Just as Long as We're Together,consider matters of divorce, friendship, family breakups, and sexual development while Forever specifically deals with a young woman's first love and first sexual experience. Whatever the situation, however, Blume's characters confront their feelings of confusion as a start to resolving their problems. 
I think celebrating three notable birthdays today deserves a noteworthy recipe. Recently I posted a recipe for Southern Buttermilk Red Velvet Cake. Here is a different take on Red Velvet Cake called Chocolate Truffle Filled Red Velvet Cupcakes. One bite of this gooey baked cupcake made me think of lava cakes. Try to serve cupcakes warm to enjoy the richness of the chocolate center.
This recipe was a winner for me!
This photo shows the batter with the chocolate ball placement.

Chocolate Truffle Filled Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from BHG February 2012 and serves 8.
Cook’s note: If you are short on time for baking this Valentine’s Day this recipe can be adapted by using a box of chocolate cake mix following manufacture’s directions instead of the chocolate batter recipe below. But follow the steps for making the chocolate filling and adding the firm chocolate ball mixture to the cupcake batter. These mini lava cakes are a perfect dessert for the holiday. Preparation time 30 minutes.
  • 1-cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • ¼ cup whipping cream 
  • ¼ cup plus 1 TB. butter 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1-cup flour 
  • 3 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1-cup flour 
  • ¾ cup sugar 
  • 1-2 tsp. red food coloring 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • ½ cup buttermilk 
  • ½ tsp. baking soda 
  • ½ tsp. vinegar 
  • 1 TB. Kahlua or Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
Chocolate Filling:
  • In a small saucepan combine chocolate pieces, cream and 1 TB. butter. 
  • Stir over low heat till chocolate is melted and add in Kahlua. 
  • Place mixture in a small bowl and put in freezer for an hour till fudge-like consistency 
  • After an hour take out and roll into 12 balls-place on wax paper and put back into freezer to keep firm while preparing batter. 
  • Using a muffin tin line each with a cupcake cup holder. The recipe said makes 12 but I got 8 out of the batter with 4 extra chocolate balls left over. Note: The extra chocolate by itself will satisfy your chocolate cravings and WILL not go wasted :) 
  • In a small bowl mix flour, cocoa and ¼ tsp. salt-set aside. 
  • In mixing bowl beat ¼ cup softened butter till smooth. Beat in sugar, egg, food coloring and vanilla. 
  • Alternate adding flour mixture, egg mixture and buttermilk beating on low after each addition 
  • In a bowl add vinegar and baking soda-will fizz (just like school volcanoes) and stir into batter. 
  • Divide half the batter into prepared muffin cups 
  • Drop 1 frozen chocolate ball into each muffin cup center with batter 
  • Cover each muffin cup with remaining batter. 
  • Bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes, check top as it should spring back when lightly touched. 
  • Recipe called for a topping using raspberry preserves but other options are ice cream or whip cream.

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