People move in and out of our lives like partners in some celestial dance beyond our control. Sometimes in the midst of this promenade we are partnered with someone we don’t want to let go: someone who leads us through the steps, follows when we twist and turn, and rides the waves of the music with us.
Caroline has been my perfect dance partner since we were just little girls in primary school – thirteen long years of friendship, dancing in and around one another, learning from the world and each other. Caroline invited me into the dance of life. She took a girl who had long been on the outside and swept me into the swing and step of growing up and becoming who I am today.
Together we would lie on her bunk bed and talk about grown up ideas that filled our adolescent heads and shaped our childish visions for our futures. Twenty-five seemed a lifetime away, and in our minds we were so much bigger than the small suburb we came from. Life was out there, beyond the entry to our estate, an aeroplane ride away in Caro’s home country of India, in the countryside of Ireland that filled my dreams. Caroline is the reason I survived high school; walking up the path I knew I would see her friendly face, someone to scurry from class to class with, someone who could (and still can) make me laugh with a Dr Evil impersonation (“frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their frickin’ heads), someone to share scandals and gossip and whispers, who could tempt me with pickle (oh, pickle sandwiches…) or butter chicken, or the best mashed potatoes I have ever eaten (it’s all about the cream and cracked pepper), someone who would invite me to the dance when no one else would.
Caro is warmth from a kitchen stove, a remembered smile, delicate hands, whispered conversations on school camp.
Like all dancers, these partners have had their periods of catch and release, and every time our lives fall back into step the rhythm is as familiar as my own heartbeat.
In December, Caroline will marry the love of her life, Tim, and I am so happy that she has found someone to share her future, and every dance along the way. Congratulations my love.
Ricadonna Cupcakes with Ricadonna Buttercream
Adapted from the fabulous Sweetapolita’s Pink Champagne Cake Pops. If you cannot get Ricadonna Asti, you can use your favourite champagne or sparkling wine.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups raw caster sugar
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- 1 1/3 cups Ricadonna Asti
- Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line three twelve-cup mini muffin tins with muffin papers.
- Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take about 5 minutes. Add vanilla to butter and sugar mixture and beat in.
- Add egg whites one at a time, and beat well between additions.
- Adjust speed to low and add flour in three parts, alternating with champagne, beginning and ending with flour.
- Spoon mixture into muffin cups. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking time. If you only have two shelves in your oven you can leave one tray on the bench and cook these after the first batch is completely done.
- Cupcakes are cooked when they spring back into shape when lightly pressed.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pans, then remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting them with the Ricadonna Buttercream.
For the buttercream:
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup butter until light and fluffy, this is an important step in achieving a really light and airy frosting.
- Add 4 cups of icing sugar, 1/4 cup Ricadonna, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2-3 drops of pink food colouring. Beat for 5 minutes on medium speed.
- Spoon into a piping bag with a medium star tip and decorate your cupcakes with a swirl of frosting. If you do not own a piping bag you can spoon the frosting onto the cupcakes and spread it prettily with a knife.
- Decorate with any extra embellishments that you wish. I used pearlised sugar crystals because they remind me of champagne bubbles!
Tell me dear reader, who has invited you into the dance when you were sitting on the outside? Are you a champagne lady like me or do you have another favourite tipple?