You have been gone for over three months now. I remember when I first found out you were coming:
It was a Friday night in early June 2009. There was a dinner at Fred and Joyce's house. Oh, how much of a surprise it was to see a banner made by Joyce and the boys for me finally being done at OCC. Your parents, Emmy and Jeff, also attended. I think your father brought a strawberry pie of some sort. Emmy was a little "big" and I couldn't help but wonder if she was having a baby. Indeed she was!
After that, I (and everyone else) was excited for your impending arrival. And, on October 20, 2009, you finally entered our world and made it for the better. I was so lucky to have met you the next evening with a milk tea boba in one hand for your mother and Scrubby in the other. For, as you know, at that point, I was still a pre-med student and wanted to make sure you got something that was reminiscent of your Auntie Hester.
I do enjoy being an auntie to all of my cousins' children and you were no exception. I do believe this photo of us (taken on my cell phone) is the only one of me holding you. All the times thereafter that I saw you we were always too busy having fun (or not having fun) that pictures were never taken of us. For that, I cherish this photo even more. Plus, I think it's the only time ever in your short life that you didn't cry when I held you.
|Little Annabelle Yi-An Chang, one day old and many hearts were already stolen.|
You are absolutely missed, my dear. Your funeral was in December. Just a few weeks prior, you and your parents went to pick out a lovely Christmas tree. Why you left so early is still a mystery to us but, just like your parents, we absolutely adored and loved you while you were here and you're always in our thoughts. I found you to be incredibly sweet, curious, shy, smart, beautiful (I told your mother you were totally going to be a model when you grew up), and feisty. Oh, how you were feisty and ooh, what a set of lungs you had. That day that you left for New Jersey? That was a scary afternoon for me as I tried to stop you from bawling as we gave your mom five minutes to take a shower; it was the longest five minutes of my life. However, I'd take that day over and over in place of you being gone.
I am on my Spring Break now. Usually on a break or vacation of mine, I would be paying you and your mother a visit. I was going to pay you guys a visit during that winter vacation, too, but, you suddenly passed away and I regret not having seen you sooner. At your funeral, your mother's eulogy included the fact that your favorite color was orange. For some reason, I thought that it was purple because I always saw you in purple, but orange is good, too, as I wore (and still do) lots as a Pirate student at OCC. By the way, you were the cutest grape I've ever seen for Halloween.
The orange comment stayed with me. It was from then on out that I thought I'd try to create a recipe that would symbolize you. And I think that I have done it. I actually gave these to your parents a couple of days shy of the new year. I think they liked them. I thoroughly enjoy them and so does everyone else who eats them.
I created this recipe with aspects of you all throughout. The flavors all work together incredibly and if anyone who eats them knew you, then I think they'll agree that they're Annabelle Carrot Cupcakes. The carrots I threw in because of your favorite color. Then, I added in walnuts because well, to me, you were a tad bit nutty at times. But, nutty is good... Auntie Hester can be nutty, too. The cinnamon, cloves, and freshly ground nutmeg all add a warmth and slight spice JUST LIKE YOU. The coconut and pineapple are a traditional combination and I think that being a child of Emmy and Jeff, you would have developed a wanderlust and adventure for life, as well. You would want to try new things and explore what the world has to offer, one of those places being some tropical, fruity locale. Finally, I believe the creamy, rich, and luscious cream cheese frosting translates nicely to your beautiful soft baby skin and rich melodious laugh. How I do wish I could hear you laugh again.
So, I hope that all is well up in Heaven, Annabelle. Please say hello to Nai-Nai and Yei-Yei for me. If you decide to take up cooking and baking like your mother, Emmy, please make these sometime.
Annabelle Carrot Cupcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 of a whole nutmeg, grated
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 cups grated carrots (about six good-sized carrots will do)
- 1 cup crushed pineapple, with juices
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- 1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts + extra whole, toasted walnuts for decoration
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and set aside. In another bowl, mix together the oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Then, add in the carrots, pineapple, and coconut flakes. After it is well-mixed, gently fold in the dry mixture and the nuts. Do not overdo it on the mixing.
2. Line your muffin tin with cupcake liners. Fill them up 3/4 of the way. Bake for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before applying the cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 package/8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioner's sugar
1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and mix. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Slowly add in the sugar a little bit at a time and beat until a smooth consistency is reached. Cool the frosting in the refrigerator before frosting your cooled cupcakes.