Every once in a while, a truly remarkable event happens that reminds you appreciate in life. The day I met K was one such moment. In reality, the first time we met was at the Edible Book Festival at our school’s library, though I wouldn’t have recognized her face with all the nice folks streaming in and out of the rotunda. We reconnected after K entered my From My Kitchen to Yours care package giveaway–she found my blog through cards I had been giving out at the festival and, by some crazy chance, decided to start reading. Who says that serendipity can only happen to John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale? For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the photo and story I posted. I hope you don’t mind if I repeat myself here, but this is definitely a story worth sharing.
After the giveaway winners had been announced, the first deal of the day was to collaborate with the winners and create a recipe for them based on their taste/baked goods preferences. I wanted to make something really special to thank my readers for following my blog, and I was so excited when I heard that K was a local student because I would be able to hand-deliver the sweets!
After much browsing and researching in my visual recipe index, she and her roommates decided on something akin to this cheesecake-filled chocolate cupcake I had made and posted quite a while back. I immediately set to work creating a new, improved recipe that would impress and do justice to my vocation as a food blogger.
After tons of experimenting and tweaking, I finally created 18 indulgent, moist crumb chocolate cupcakes with coffee cheesecake stuffed in the middle and an amazing Kahlua Biscoff frosting on top (because if you couldn’t tell, I’ve been slightly obsessed with both Kahlua and Biscoff lately, and I have another awesome Biscoff recipe coming soon). Then, two weeks ago, I packed up a dozen of those cupcakes and down into the village to deliver them. When I met K, she was smiling and we introduced ourselves again. We chatted easily about her plans beyond school and she had only the kindest things to say about the work I did. Before we left, I handed her the cupcake box and she pulled out an envelope: a small token of appreciation, she told me. I was pleasantly surprised and thanked her for her consideration. When I got home that night, I opened the envelope: inside I found two index cards. The first was a note with the words Thank You written on it. The second, however, was a note of gratitude. In it, K revealed that she had been going through a rough year and had spent most of it grasping towards a way to cope. To do this, she started making a conscious daily effort to celebrate little parts of life. She told me that after she found my blog and began reading, and after learning that she had won the giveaway, she had more to look forward to every day.
One line resonated with me in particular: “I hope I can pass along your kindness (although maybe not through baked goods haha), but in some way make someone’s day worth getting through.”
I’ve said this before, but it’s small moments like these that make what I do worth getting through, and I am so grateful for every moment of it. Up until as recently as this year, food blogging felt more like an ongoing project than a way of life, but in recent months it has become something much more: a note of gratitude for all the small things in life that I enjoy writing about, and perhaps my personal way of celebrating life daily as well.
It’s amazing what a little ray of positive notice can do for someone’s entire day. When was the last time you did something that you didn’t find to be a big deal, but that made somebody else really light up? Last week I was chatting with a cashier at Trader Joe’s and he looked so tired, I decided to ask him how his day had been going and when he’d be off his shift. I learned that he had closed the night before at midnight and come in this morning at 5 AM to open the store, and that he had a long shift ahead of him as well. He was tired–but as I talked to him, I could see him brightening a bit, and when I finally packed up my groceries he thanked me with a big smile for asking him about his day.
Only this weekend when I was visiting Vancouver, one Starbucks patron actually stepped out of the shop with me when I asked him about good local restaurants and walked me the entire seven blocks to a well-known Chinese restaurant. As an out-of-towner who had just had the roughest travel day imaginable, this total stranger (whose name I learned was Alex) set the tone for the rest of my stay, which ended up being nothing short of brilliant.
Whether I’ve consciously recognized the fact or not, blogging and reaching out to readers really has become a huge part of my life, and I’m glad such small gestures can still have a significant impact on those people whose paths cross with mine. And even more than this, I hope each and every one of you knows how much I appreciate my readers! Reading your comments is always a particular delight, but every interaction–big or small–really fills me with gratitude for the community of which I have finally become a part. Whether you know it or not, just having you around makes my day just a little bit brighter.
So here’s a big thank you to all of you for making this blog the dream reality it has become today. Treat yourself to a chocolate cupcake (or five)–you earned it.
What is the last time somebody did something (big or small) that made you really happy?
For the chocolate cupcake
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup instant coffee granules
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons hot water
- 2 tablespoons Kahlua
For the coffee cheesecake filling:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee granules
- 1/2 tablespoon Kahlua
- 1/4 cup white sugar
For the Kahlua Biscoff Frosting:
- 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup Biscoff spread or cookie butter
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Extra Biscoff spread or cookie butter, melted, for drizzling
For the chocolate cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 18 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, and sugar.
- Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in until smooth.
- Stir in dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) until just combined.
- Dissolve coffee granules in hot water. Add Kahlua. Add coffee mixture to chocolate mixture and stir in until just incorporated.
- Fill each cupcake liner 1/3 of the way, then place a dollop of coffee cheesecake filling in the center (see instructions below). Pour more batter on top of filling so each liner is 2/3 full.
- Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out fairly clean with moist crumbs clinging to it.
For the coffee cheesecake filling:
- In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients together until smooth.
For the Kahlua Biscoff Frosting:
- Cream all ingredients together until smooth. Use to frost chocolate cupcakes once they have completely cooled. Drizzle with extra Biscoff spread or cookie butter (melted) if desired.