I've always been fond of magic - not the Seigfried and Roy variety, but more along the lines of Harry Houdini. Classic and classy; no sequined shirts and flaming hoops for tigers to jump through. My kind of magic is impressive for its realism, not its flashiness. I guess that is my kind of movie too because I really liked The Illusionist. It came out in 2006 and stars Edward Norton as a performer who must work his magic to save the woman he has loved since childhood. Paul Giamatti gives a great supporting performance, as does Rufus Sewell and Jessica Biel. The film is set in Edwardian Austria and it recalls the mystery of a Harry Houdini type that can shock and amaze an audience. Edward Norton really is superb and he plays the role in an understated and quietly unnerving way.
If you want to enjoy a little magic with the movie, gives these cupcakes a try. There is a sweet surprise of chocolate in the center of the cupcake.
Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes
"Prep: 20 min., Bake: 20 min. You can use a coffee scoop, which equals about 2 Tbsp., to measure batter into paper baking cups.
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups DOMINO Granulated Sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 milk chocolate kisses
1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add peanut butter, beating until smooth.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add to peanut butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract.
3. Spoon 2 Tbsp. batter into each of 24 paper baking cups in muffin pans. Place 1 chocolate kiss on its side in center of batter in each cup. Top evenly with remaining batter (about 2 Tbsp. in each cup), covering chocolate kisses.
4. Bake at 375° for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks. Dust with confectioners sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Peanut Butter-Jam Surprise Cupcakes: Prepare batter as directed. Spoon 2 Tbsp. batter into each of 24 paper baking cups in muffin pans. Omit milk chocolate kisses. Dollop 1 rounded tsp. of your favorite flavor jam in center of batter in each cup. Top evenly with remaining batter (about 2 Tbsp. in each cup). Bake and cool as directed.
Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes
Southern Living, SEPTEMBER 2006"