My great-great-great grandfather, Albert Hebrank, fought in the Civil War. In 1861, he was an immigrant, right off the boat from Owingen, Hohenzollern, Prussia (Germany), and he joined the 54th Volunteer Infantry Regiment of New York, a.k.a. the Barney Black Rifles or ‘Schwarze Yaeger’- a unit comprised predominantly of German-speaking immigrants that fought in the some of the most famous and bloody battles of the war: Bull Run, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Manassas, and Cross Keys. My first cousin 4-times removed, Ferdinand Hebrank (Albert’s nephew), fought in the 71st New York Infantry in the Spanish-American War at the Battle of San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. My great-uncles, Jack Sonnanburg, Eugene Rooney, Thomas Rooney, Frank Rooney and Sam Prybuski all fought in WWII, stationed in various places all over the world, as well as my other great-uncle, Pasquale Civitillo, who was in the Navy, stationed near Cuba during the Cold War. Those are just a few of my family members who have served the United States Military, not to mention all the members who served in the military in other countries (like the Dylnicki’s who fought on the side of Poland in WWI). I have friends in the Military right now, who have served in Iraq & Afghanistan. I don’t agree with the war, but I will always & forever support our military.
So let’s all of us not forget our veterans today, whether we watch the parade or don’t, and let’s remember that no political party has the market on patriotism.
Patriotic liners & decorating kit from CupcakeCrafts4U!
A few months back, I received an awesome packet from Kim at Cupcake Crafts 4 U. It was a patriotic set that included: four kinds of liners, red sugar, red & white large sugar, blue & white large sugar, silver dragees, red/white/blue M&M’s, red lip-shaped sprinkles, white gel frosting, blue frosting with 2 kinds of tips and a recipe! I knew I wanted to save it for Veteran’s Day, so here it is.
I didn’t use the recipe that came with the kit, because I wanted a white chocolate cupcake (but the recipe looks awesome- red, white & blue cupcakes using red & blue Kool-Aid). I also decided to save the blue frosting and the gel as well as some sugars and the dragees for future cupcakes. I knew two kinds of sprinkles plus M&M’s would be perfect for the cupcakes I was making (I only made 10 cupcakes, I halved the recipe below). If I was making more, I’d have used everything and made each cupcake look different. Cupcake Crafts sells AMAZING cupcake-decorating kits, perfect for kid’s parties, those of you not artistically-inclined or even those of you who are, but want to get a full kit with everything you’d need. All you have to do is make the cupcake! I mean, look at how cute the Thanksgiving one is: make a cupcake into a turkey!
WHITE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES (adapted from Baking Bites)
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin pans with 18 cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Stir well with a fork between each interval and cook only until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by melted white chocolate and vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding in some of the milk and some of the flour mixture, ending with a final addition of flour. Mix until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
- Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 325F for 20-23 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Cool completely before frosting.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
- 3 egg whites
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth.
- Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
- Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.
All in all, I really liked the kit. I’d totally recommend it. It makes decorating so much easier, because it puts everything together in one place. And some of the kits include really elaborate stuff that looks so impressive, yet it’s made easy for you. Like I said, these would be perfect for kid’s birthdays. Or even to buy a few kits and bake the cupcakes, then have the kids decorate them. Kim puts a lot of time and effort into this business, and you can definitely tell. Take a look at the kits they sell and buy one. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
And Happy Veteran’s Day.