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I am a wife, mother, teacher, runner, baker, fund-raiser, reader, watcher of movies, dog-lover, writer, music-lover and foodie. So - I'm a woman of many moods! I write and share in order to teach and enrich. I currently have two blogs going: The Kitchen Refugee, and A Mile At A Time. The first is about time spent in the kitchen and the second about time spent on the road. Frequently the two roads intersect!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Designer Cupcakes

I love how cupcakes have become the new 'thing.'  A cupcake can go from childhood treat to festive grown-up fare with just a change of dressing paper.  There are a milllion new blogsites about cupcakes, so I won't go into too much detail here, but I will direct you to some new sites I've found.

This weekend, we celebrated my mother-in-law's 80th birthday.  It was a great weekend filled with friends and family.  I hadn't really planned on serving cupcakes until some festive papers caught my eye - at Wal-Mart, of all places!  In the cake decorating/weddding isle, they had cupcake papers that looked like little flowers.  My mother-in-law is an avid gardener and has a yard that would make pixies envious.  Once I saw those papers, the theme came together, and the more I thought about it, making a variety of cupcakes meant two things: guests would have choices, and no one would have to serve cake!  Perfect!

I spent the next six weekends trying new recipes, and making notes about things to change or adjust.  My husband's workmates were the perfect recipients of all my experiments.  I would sample one cupcake and send the rest to the warehouse where they would disappear.  My biggest problem was in deciding which recipes would make the cut - I knew I'd have to draw the line somewhere.

One of my new guilty pleasures, is Pinterest www.pinterest.com.  I'ts like an online scrap book for grown-ups.  One can lose many an hour just looking at pretty pictures, many of which involve FOOD!  I found a couple cupcake recipes on Pinterest.  You can follow these links to the recipes.

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

These were really wonderful!  There are graham cracker crumbs mixed in the batter, and it really gives a great taste to the cake.  I added some lime zest to the batter (my only alteration to the recipe).
The lime/cream cheese frosting is delightful, and the dusting of graham cracker crumbs and lime zest add to the display!

Coconut Cream Cupcakes

This recipe is also very good.  The one change I made, however was in the filling.  The original recipe calls for toasted coconut in the filling, and I felt that the crunch took away from the creaminess.  When I made them for the party, I just used the coconut untoasted.  A little toasted coconut made them look pretty, but didn't detract from the texture.   Mmmm....yummy!

For my own birthday, in March, I made special St. Patrick themed cupcakes for my kindergarten friends.  It was a lot of work, but they made a spectacular showing that only five-year-olds could really appreciate.  I'm sad to say that I used a box mix for these - I was tired.  So - I used a white cake mix, and then separated the mix into Gladware to add food coloring.  I'm also embarrassed to say that my mind must've been particularly fried that night because I failed to mix a couple of the desired colors.  Oh well - that's when I had to say "it's good enough for kindergarten!"

Once the colors were created, I realized that I would have to spoon 7 layers into 24 cupcakes.  Bleh!  What have I done?!  I'll tell you right now, that unless you are making a rainbow CAKE, where you pour each color into it's own layer pan, you will not get actual, separated, colors.
It was a good idea, but it came out more like tie-die than rainbow! 
 Oh well.

 To top off my St. Pat's cupcakes, I did plain, white buttercream frosting and added gold 'gem' sprinkles and a gold-wrapped rollo.  (Of course, during my many trips to the store, I FORGOT to shop for chocolate coins! - once again: good enough for kindergarten!)  The kids totally got the reference to gold at the end of the rainbow, and were completely delighted with my efforts.  That's why I love them so!  :-)

Whether you spruce up a cupcake with a fancy paper, piped frosting, or special sprinkles - they are always festive and everyone loves them.  Years ago, one of my kindergarten friends (who is now old enough to write her own blog http://themadisonyoung.com/ ) laid down some 5-year-old wisdom after eating a birthday cupcake at school.  With a big, contented, sigh, she said, "Aren't cupcakes just...enough!"  Oh - yes, they are!

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