Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Uncle P & Pistachio (cup)Cakes

Pistachio Cupcakes 

I was 15 the first time I tasted a Pistachio Cake. It was such a surprise to bite into the thick tarty sweet cream cheese frosting & into a green nutty buttery cake! This was Samoa way back in the 80's. Cakes like that didn't just hop off of Hawaiian Airlines! I never forgot the crunchiness of chomping into the corner piece of cake. My mouth did the happy dance.

My mother's younger brother had baked it earlier that Sunday. He lived next to us, kind of kitty corner from our house in Mesepa. To get to his house we had to cross through a small grove of banana trees, an older than my mother plumeria tree, our pig pen, a breadfruit tree & a large wild bush of baby breathes my mother had grown from a bouquet she'd been gifted with years before.

He was many things in this life: Son, Husband, Father, Uncle, Cousin, Friend, Neighbor. One of my favorite things that he was when he was here - was a baker. He baked Wedding Cakes using my grandmothers ButterCake recipe. Both he & my grandmother had people come from across the oceans to ask for that cake  for some one's wedding, graduation party or any such celebration requiring cake.

One woman I'm marginally acquainted with contacted me via Facebook to ask me if I had the number of an Aunt who still made buttercake & if so how much $$$ would it take to convince said Aunt to make an 18 tier cake?

I laughed & clicked delete. Surely, if she's desperate enough - there are other people more closely related to the ButterCake than I am.

(Those of you who know what Gramma Lama's ButterCake is like - know what I'm talking about. There is nothing like it. And the answer is No. I don't bake that buttery goodness. Yet.)

He baked pies, cookies, savory dishes. He cooked elaborate dishes & he could probably make dirt taste good. He was the Uncle that was manning the gigantic woks in the cooking tents & laughing at the people dancing in the halls. He was the first person in my memory that I can ever recall grilling up over 100+ pounds of beef broccoli & pupu chicken for a cousin's wedding.

It was a talent he inherited & learned from his mother.

He made the Pistachio Cake in a 13x 9 inch pan for my mother ( and by default her husband & children).

He loved to bake cakes & watch spooky movies. Real spooky give you nightmares for weeks kind of movies. He was beloved of so many people. I loved him too but I didn't like him very much. Not because of him or anything but because our personalities & outlook were so radically different from each other.

It took me many years to also forgive him for his frailties & celebrate his strengths. He was kind & generous to so very many people as evidenced by those who were heartbroken when he passed away unexpectedly nearly ten years ago. He was always laughing & baking & building. He strove to avoid confrontations. He didn't fight - he flowed. He just wanted to love & live - something I think he inherited from his father since his mother was a feisty fight 'em firecracker.

Here's my recipe for Easy Pistachio Cupcakes:
1 box of yellow cake mix ( I like the Sugar Free kind!)
1 small box of Instant Pistachio Pudding
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together first.
Then add in the water, eggs, oil.
Mix until it all looks blended together.

Get your cupcake tins ready with liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill the liners with 1/4 cup of batter. Pop it into the oven for about 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Bring it out & let it cool.

Although my Uncle used a cream cheese frosting - I forgot to buy cream cheese today. So I went with an Almond ButterCream instead.

Almond Butter Cream Frosting:
1 stick of butter (about a half cup)
3 cups of powdered sugar - sifted
3 tbs milk
1 tbs almond extract

Whip the butter till its kinda fluffy. I did this with a fork. You can use an electric mixer.

When the butter is creamy & kinda fluffy - put the 3 cups of powder sugar in & beat it again until its fluffy & stiff enough to frost with.

Frost the cupcakes with a good sized dollop of frosting!

With love & delicious Pistachio cupcakes`

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