Since moving away from the USA in 2001 I have had to realize that while most things I cook using a recipe will turn out using the foreign equivalent of an ingredient, that is not true for baking. I have had more baking failures in the last ten years than in all the years before that. Most often, I think it is the butter. Right after I moved to Tokyo there was a butter shortage and the foreign market started selling American butter. The quality of my baked goods improved as soon as I began using this butter. Well…the American butter didn’t last long and I rationed out what I had stock piled in my freezer. Eventually, it ran out and I was back to Japanese butter and baking failures again. I mentioned this one day to my friend Natosha and the next time she came over she brought 2 pounds of this:

I had both pounds in the freezer until last night when a batch of cupcakes I needed for today failed. I pulled out the Challenge butter and made a perfect batch of red velvet cupcakes with it. This afternoon Natosha stopped by to bring me an inspired birthday gift…you guessed it a pound of Challenge butter. It is such a great gift because I cannot buy it myself in any store in Japan, Natosha can but I cannot ask her to buy it for me. It can only be a gift.