Friday, February 19, 2010

Baby Shower: The Preparation

A few weeks ago about 20 Dutch ladies gathered in my living room for a baby shower.  Before the party, I asked myself about a dozen times why on earth I had offered to throw such a party.  I think I had been to maybe two baby showers ever in my life up to that point, and one of those was when I was seven, so I don't have a lot of experience with this particular kind of celebration.  The words, "Well, I just have to throw you a baby shower," just kind of fell out of my mouth last fall when a friend announced that she was pregnant and due in the spring.  I couldn't think of anyone more deserving of being celebrated than this wonderful friend, and I wanted to do something special for her.

The Dutch have about zero experience with baby showers, or showers of any kind, as I discovered last year before my wedding. (As a side note: my mother-in-law and my mom put together a fantastic bridal shower/bouquet making afternoon last summer, and I think the Dutch women really like the novelty of going to an American style gathering.) I don't think anyone, including myself, really knew what to expect on that Saturday afternoon in February. Maybe that's a good thing, because I was pretty unsure about all my duties as hostess.  Obviously, one of my biggest responsibilities for the afternoon was putting the food together for an informal tea.  I had a few freak out moments during the days leading up to the shower, but I pulled it together enough to make a menu and get some baking done.
It was truly a joy to devote a few days to baking, and thanks to the lovely blog posts at Piece of Cake, I was able to find some delicious cupcakes for my guests. Seriously, I don't know what I would do without cooking blogs.  Not only do they feed my obsession to know about other people's lives, but they also give me so much inspiration.  Ever since I moved and had to say good-bye to my Bon Appétit subscription (also, the direction that magazine decided to take about two years ago disappointed me and left me feeling lost in the culinary wilderness), I've come to rely on cooking blogs even more.  Well, I felt excited standing in my kitchen trying out her recipes for chocolate cupcakes and some truly scrumptious cakes of lemon flavored heaven.

This chocolate cupcake recipe celebrates two ingredients the Dutch are famous for: cocoa powder and coffee.  I can't speak highly enough of my little percolator.  If you love espresso but can't afford the drool-worthy espresso machine complete with burr grinder attachment sitting in the window of your local cooking store, may I suggest a stovetop percolator instead?  It will only ever bring you many cups of joy.

Although it's still a little early for the tastes of spring and it will be several months yet before I see fresh, young vegetables at the market, I couldn't pass up a chance to make the lemon cupcakes.  Besides, I was craving a bit of spring, even if was just in my kitchen.  As I was whisking up the lemon pastry cream, I was trying really hard not to calculate the amount of calories, fat, and cholesterol contained in just one bowl.  Egg yolks + sugar + butter = contribution to heart disease the best lemon dessert I've ever made. 
Because after the lemon cream came the buttercream frosting and with it the use of several more packages of butter and sugar.  I bought five, FIVE, packages of butter for the shower, and I used up every, single one.
I will tell you that the cupcakes turned out very well, and the ladies seemed to like them.  I used a different frosting on the lemon cupcakes, though.  Instead of a frosting using heavy cream, I chose one that uses meringue in order to create a lighter, fluffier taste.  The lemon pastry cream is already so rich, and I didn't want to overpower the airy cake with a heavy frosting, too.  I'll post the pics from the shower this weekend along with a commentary on throwing a baby shower Dutch-style, and then you'll get to see what my finished creations looked like.

Happy Friday!


  1. To Diana and Regan,

    What a cool idea for a blog. I love it. Thank you Diana for finding and commenting on my blog. I enjoy speculating about how on earth you came upon mine! Well, I hope you guys don't mind I post a link to yours. I look forward to following your adventures.

  2. Sea legs girl,
    Thanks for leaving a comment! I can't remember exactly how I found your blog, but I love reading about another ex-pat's experiences in Europe. Stay warm over there in Denmark!