Sunday, September 7, 2014

Nothing Says 'I Love You' Quite like Cupcakes from Scratch

When it comes to things like "feelings" and "emotions," I usually tend to either "have none" or "react inappropriately" to whatever the situation might, I know I probably shouldn't laugh when I see a kid fall off of his bike, but does that ever stop me? Nope. Does that make me evil? Maybe. But I own up to it because being honest to a fault is probably the one thing I do excel at when it comes to being a person-robot hybrid. Since I often have issues computing and emoting your feeble human emotions, I often let my actions speak louder than my words. Sure, I can say I love my husband, but by baking him cupcakes from scratch down to the icing,  I am showing him this is the gospel truth without getting all sappy and gaggy about it. Emotions: As messy as homemade baked goods...but you don't get to eat your feelings now, do you?
Well, I suppose you could, but don't the cupcakes look like they'd taste better?
See? These carefully crafted, meticulously decorated tasty little bundles of love say it all without any awkward pauses or mild horror on my part that I'm being way too  mushy. So now that my husband is safely home from deployment, every time he opens the fridge he is constantly reminded that I love him so much I spent hours and hours laboring to get these bad boys just right. Did you just learn a lesson from me? You're damn right you did. I'm the antithesis to every chick flick you've ever seen, and I have a very fruitful partnership because of it. This will probably be the one time I ever use myself as a successful example for anything, so just go with me here while I give you the run down on this recipe I found and adapted to my liking from here.
I know, I am absolutely horrified there's no butter in the ingredients list, too.
Minus the buttermilk, you probably have everything you need for these cupcakes in your pantry anyway. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor over the fact that these vanilla cupcakes didn't call for any stick butter whatsoever, I decided maybe it was time for me to inch away from my butter safety net and try something new, and boy am I glad I did.
I swear this is only pure cut flour.
Start by mixing together your dry ingredients in a mediumish (new favorite made up word- it sounds so fun and carefree) bowl- 2.5 C flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, and 2.5 tsp baking powder.
There may not be stick butter, but we're not lacking in the sugar department, no sir.
Then in your stand mixer bowl, dump in four eggs and beat those suckers like they stole your favorite pair of pumps. If you're a man baking these, beat those suckers like they stole your last beer- seriously, but not for an extended amount of time because you can always go get more. Once your eggs are light and fluffy, admire their tenacity at taking a beating so well and add in one cup of sugar. Mix that well, and then add in one final cup of sugar. Don't try to do it all at once or you're going to end up with sugar crystal coated counters...the mess alone would be a pain in the ass, but try saying that five times fast. Once these have blended well, add in 3 tsp of the great elixir known as vanilla extract and 1 C of veggie oil. Now, take a cup or so of your flour mixture from way back when this whole ordeal started, and mix it in. Pour in half a cup of buttermilk, and mix together. Then pour another cup or so of the flour mixture in, and another half a cup of buttermilk. Finish this game of cat and mouse off by dumping whatever flour mix you have left in until everything is nicely blended together.
Naturally, you want to fill your muffin tins at this point, but not too full. I put a heaping spoonful into each cup.
And after baking at 350 for 20 minutes, these gorgeous blondes were born.
This recipe makes 24 cupcakes, so you'll get plenty of batter on you and your muffin tin while filling the cups. That's fine. You should go for this route because then you get to eat some batter, salmonella be damned...the taste alone would've been worth it as far as I am concerned. Now, since my husband's trip back home got pushed back a day, I had enough time to call it a day at this point and let my cupcakes cool in the fridge overnight so I had a firm surface to work on in the morning. Sad fact of life, the more cupcakes I make and subsequently eat mean my surface is less than firm, but these are the things we do for love: Quiet suffering. Wait, that really was supposed to be romantic. Now you see why I bake instead.
Get ready to be AMAZED at my trial and error response.
Now that the cupcakes are cooked and cooled, it is time to get to the part before the fun part- making the icing. Now, I tried a regular cream cheese icing recipe to frost the outside edges of my cupcakes, but it ended up being way too runny to maintain shape even after adding in more powdered sugar and sitting in the freezer for 30 minutes. So I had to scrape that icing off and put the rest in a Tupperware for the next time I actually do feel like eating my feelings since we've decided that is possible. I then went with my old standby plain white frosting, dyed green.
Grab a 2D drop flower tip and fit it to a piping bag. You're a better person than I if you get to this point and don't have green dye all over your hands like I did.
To load up your bag, find a large glass to place your piping bag in, and fold the top of it over the lip of the cup. I found it appropriate that our old squadron's bad ass beer mugs worked best for this. If you ain't Spectre...

Now, take your piping bag and slowly, very slowly, draw a line around the outside of your cupcakes.
You'll find that as you naturally curve around the cupcakes, the tip will make an awesomely crafted design.
End by burying your tip a bit when you reach where you started, and pipe until you've formed a nice little green flower,
and pull up and away a bit.
Once you've made your outside design, place the cupcakes back in the fridge and get ready to make the best strawberry cream cheese frosting EVER.
Ahh, stick butter- nothing is ever truly whole without you.
Clean out the cupcake mess from your mixing bowl, and once you've dried that, get ready to undo that hard work by making a mess again. Mix together one stick (half a cup) of BUTTTTTEEEERRRRR that has been softened with one brick of cream cheese. I went with reduced fat, but I think the real deal would work better because it would be firmer overall. Since I needed a frosting with a thicker consistency, I slowly blended in five cups of powdered sugar, and 1.5 tsp of vanilla extract because I had shaky hands and dumped in about half a tsp more than I needed, but this stuff tastes good no matter what. I finished up by dumping in 3 tablespoons of strawberry jam. If you're not a huge fan of strawberry flavoring, you're weird, but you could do 2 tablespoons instead. Or if strawberry flavor is your jam (see what I did there), go for 4 tablespoons. I did not end up adding in any milk so my frosting would be thick enough.
This frosting yields a soft pink color, but I wanted to amp it up and get more dye all over myself.
After placing in the freezer for a half an hour, get your 2D drop flower tip fitting to another piping bag and fill with the strawberry frosting. Here comes the insanely easy part- hover the tip above the center of the cupcake that is unfrosted, and just pipe with frosting until you've filled in the space and built up a cute little tip, then pull the bag up and away:
As you'll notice, I ran out of green frosting before I could finish, so I got another lesson in trial and error.
But this actually worked out well because I ended up being able to pipe roses with my drop flower tip like I did many weeks prior with the S'mores cupcakes.
To finish things off, I found my cake tweezers and placed a small pearl in the middle of each flower piped in green. This was THE perfect finishing touch.
...had it remained summer here, anyway. I chose to frost in these colors because summer was unrelenting and refusing to go away after Labor Day (how unfashionable), so I embraced it and went for bright colors. Apparently this pissed off autumn, because the following morning when my husband came in it was cold and rainy and has stayed that way ever since. Not that I'm complaining- this is perfect football watching weather. I think my combination of Vikings shirt, Vikings socks, and drinking out of a Vikings tumbler lead to our victory today, as well.

These cupcakes are now a favorite and mine and my husband, so all the work was worth it. All jokes aside, he knows I'm not just an unfeeling fembot, but I will take any opportunity to bake and run with it. So should you find yourself as socially awkward as I, just let these cupcakes do the talking for you. Til next time, my fellow eaters!


  1. These look amazing... I bet they tasted the same. If you couldn't make them for your parental units, I'm glad you made them for your spousal unit. Glad that he's back home safely. Love, Endora.

  2. yes, we have the other 12 in the freezer for safe keepings/snacking later! Love you!


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