last day as a paralegal (ever!). My fellow departing paras and I were planning a celebratory happy hour. But I also wanted to thank the other coworkers who'd befriended and guided me through the past 3 years. They'd given me something to look forward to every day at the firm, and that was no small thing :). At the least, they deserved a parting with a personal touch.
Armed with a pile of cards the weekend before, I began preparing thank you notes to each of them. And along with those, cupcakes inspired by the quintessential summer dessert, strawberry shortcake. Recalling last year's strawberry cake, I couldn't help but make a number of tweaks to bring out this cupcake's full potential. For me, a sprinkling of mint and Kirsch added just the right amount of depth to the filling, but it's completely optional.
In the end, I was really happy I chose to say goodbye in person, and everyone seemed to enjoy my parting gift =D. My eyes misted over quite a few times throughout the day. Despite all the times when I wasn't sure I'd make it from one day to the next, I knew I'd genuinely miss this place and the personal connections I'd made. Which brings me to a question I'd like to ask of you all. I really want to stay in touch with my work friends, including older attorneys, but have never been much good at it. Do you have any tips from your own job/life transition experiences?
Strawberry N' Cream Cupcakes [Printable Recipe]
Makes 24 cupcakes
XIAOLU'S NOTES: These cupcakes are what I'd call "delicate beauties" that need to be devoured quickly lest they wilt in the heat. They'll keep, if chilled, for a couple days after assembly. You can also make the components and chill them until ready to serve. You'll have a good amount of filling and frosting left over, but fortunately they're good on their own, too!
Vanilla Cupcakes (Recipe below)
Whipped Cream Frosting (Recipe below)
2 quarts strawberries, hulled [reserve the 12 smallest & prettiest and slice the rest]
1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely minced (optional)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Kirsch (optional but highly recommended)
Toss strawberries several times in a bowl with sugar, lemon juice, mint, vanilla, and Kirsch (if using) until very syrupy and set aside. Make whipped cream frosting (see below).
Use a paring knife to cut a shallow cone in the middle top of the cupcake. Spoon some strawberries with syrup over top, allowing it to absorb into cupcakes. Top each with a dollop of cream frosting and a strawberry half. Enjoy!
Adapted from Amy Sedaris
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the tops of 2 standard muffin tins, then line with 24 paper liners. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a different larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined into the batter. Then add the vanilla and mix again. Finally alternately beat in dry ingredients and milk. Fill liners until they are about 2/3 full (I like to use my large cookie scoop for this). Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
Whipped Cream Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature [reduced-fat is fine]
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
Place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment [or use a large mixing bowl and hand-held mixer]. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; then increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).