As August dawned, I found myself on a rather extended road trip to the South, Tennessee and Georgia to be exact, with my darling daughter. After multiple, mind-numbing delays at the airport, we arrived in Atlanta, too late to search out the soul food I had desperately been craving.
When I finally pulled up to our hotel in Chattanooga, I was so tired, I parked the rental car in the wrong hotel parking lot. Mortified beyond all reason that I now had to bundle my child back into the car to drive across the street, the most charming midnight valet at the Hampton Inn and Suites insisted that he walk our bags across the street to the DoubleTree. This was my first taste of "Southern hospitality."
I was yes ma'amed and no ma'amed all week and not in a condescending manner. The people in Tennessee are so friendly and accommodating, in no small part due to their charming drawl. I even stopped and asked directions from a gal driving what was left of a Ford Taurus (the back end was completely gone). Covered in tattoos, looking every bit the axe murderer and boasting a charming gap toothed smile (okay, she was missing her two front teeth), when she found out I was lost, she insisted I follow her to the Walmart for which I was looking.
I even became a fan and got some "thug luv" from Christian rapper, Pettidee. He was making faces at a baby while we were in our hotel. Despite his ferocious exterior, the man is a pussy cat (don't tell him I said so), and he ended up buying me and my daughter breakfast. The waitress was positively gushing, "Don't y'all know who that is?" Clearly clueless when it comes to Christian Rap, I did not. I just thought he was a nice guy. I also got a hug in the lobby every time we ran into each other after that. He gave my daughter a signed copy of his CD, and we have enjoyed it immensely.
I had the great fortune to stumble across Chattanooga Cupcakes at the beginning of the week, and I have to say, Sprinkles has nothing on this place. A hole in the wall, housed in an old brick building, the sweet shop bakes fresh cupcakes daily, loaded with tons of fluffy homemade frosting. They offer creative flavors like, PB and Chocolate, Red Velvet, Lemon Raspberry, along with traditional items like Chocolate Overload and Kids Vanilla.
My favorite, however, was their Monday Special, Peach Cobbler, and it truly makes your heart sing. I had never sampled a cupcake quite like this one. It was large (always a plus), light and fluffy, crowned with a cloud of the most amazing cinnamon, cream cheese frosting and topped with a Nilla Wafer. It almost tasted like Cinnabon had a baby with a peach. I was determined to recreate it in my own kitchen.
Of course, getting the recipe from the original baker is always best, but this is the next best thing. Made from ingredients I had on-hand, I was able to revel in the culinary memories of a wonderful romp through the South.
Peach Cobbler Cupcake
- 1 box of vanilla cake mix (such as Betty Crocker 15.25 oz)
- 1 cup peach juice
- 3/4 cup finely chopped canned diced peaches (or you can use fresh)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 cup oil
- 3 eggs
Prepare the box cake mix according to the directions, substituting the peach juice in lieu of the water. Lightly run peaches through food processor until nicely minced. Add peaches and cinnamon to cake batter and combine. Bake in individual cupcake liners. Cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 large can Duncan Hines [or other brand] Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting (16.2 oz size)
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
In a bowl, whip together the frosting and cinnamon with a mixer until light and fluffy.
Place frosting in a piping bag or a plastic baggie with the corner cut off. Lavish on the peach cupcakes.