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Mrs. P.L. Travers

The Oscars are on tonight, and that means the last of the 12 Days of Oscar over here.  Today’s film is only nominated for one Oscar, and many agree that it should have been nominated for more.  Saving Mr. Banks is nominated for Best Original Score.  If you haven’t seen it- and you really should- Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of Walt Disney’s pursuit of the film rights to Mary Poppins.  Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) is reluctant to let Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) turn her book into a film and in the course of her negotiations with Disney, we learn about her childhood as well.

During what becomes a series of meetings, Walt Disney’s secretary routinely wheels carts of food into the meeting rooms.  Travers objects nearly every time that this is too much food, and at one point tells Dolly (Melanie Paxson) to turn the cart full of food right back around and to not leave it in the room.  More than once we see plates full of doughnuts and other sweets:

Yes, those are Hostess Sno-Balls on that tray.  Chocolate cupcakes with a cream filling covered in marshmallow and rolled in pink coconut- it doesn’t get much more “spoonful of sugar” than this.  Sitting in the theater watching this movie, I knew this was the perfect excuse to make my own Sno Balls at home.  They are more time consuming that I previously thought, definitely more of a kitchen marathon than a sprint, but they are well worth it.

sno balls

Sno Balls

Ingredients:

for the cupcakes:

  • 2 oz. unsalted butter
  • 5 oz. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 3 oz. all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 oz. cocoa powder, sifted
  • 5 oz. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

for the marshmallow coating:

  • 1/2 oz. gelatin
  • 10 oz. water, divided
  • 7 oz. corn syrup
  • 18 oz. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

for cream filling:

  • 6 oz. heavy whipping cream

for coconut topping:

  • 8 oz. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • red food coloring

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a cupcake pan and set it aside.

Cream together the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder for 3 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Add the egg and mix for 1 minute until fully incorporated.

With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour all at once, then add the cocoa powder.

Drizzle in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Continue mixing just until combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cavities of the prepared pan.

Bake for 12 minutes.

Cool for at least 2 hours before filling and frosting.

Make the marshmallow coating and filling by combining the gelatin with 5 oz. of the water in a small bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Stir with a fork to ensure there are no lumps of gelatin, then set aside.

In a medium pot, combine the remaining water, corn syrup, and sugar over medium heat.

Stir gently with a spatula to make sure the sugar dissolves.

Cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, then shut off the heat and let the mixture cool to 210 degrees.

Once the mixture has cooled to 210 degrees add the sugar syrup to the gelatin mixture and whip on low speed until the gelatin has fully dissolved.

Increase the speed to medium high and whip until light, fluffy, and tripled in bulk.

With the mixer running, add in the salt and vanilla.

Using a spatula, transfer all but 4 oz. of the mixture to a pastry bag and set aside.

Return the remaining 4 oz. of fluff to the mixer and set to low speed.

Add the cream all at once and continue mixing for another minute. The fluff and cream will have a broken appearance.

Increase the speed to medium and continue whipping until they gradually become homogeneous, then increase the speed to medium high and beat the mixture until stiff.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and refrigerate until needed.

Release the cupcakes from the pan and place them upside-down on a parchment paper lined baking pan.

Use a paring knife to poke a small hole in the bottom of each cupcake.

Using the piping bag filled with the whipped cream mixture, insert the star tip about 1″ into the cupcake and pipe one good squeeze (about 3/4 oz.) of filling into each cupcake.

Take the bag of marshmallow fluff and hold it directly above a cupcake.

Pipe a generous amount of marshmallow onto the top of the cupcake so that it flows down the sides of the cupcake and encases it.

Repeat until all cupcakes are covered in marshmallow.

Tint the coconut by putting the coconut into the work bowl of a food processor.

Add a few drops of red food coloring and process the mixture for 30 seconds, check for color and add more food coloring if necessary, then process for another 30 seconds.

Coat each cupcake generously with coconut and let sit for 1 hour.

Use a paring knife or round cookie cutter to trim away any excess marshmallow from around the bottom of the sno ball.

Roll the newly exposed edge of the sno ball in the pink coconut.

Source: Serious Eats

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The Flame

olympic torch cupcakes

I know I’ve been missing for a while (wedding planning, work and more work, blah blah blah), but when I realized how close we were getting to the XXII Winter Olympics, I knew I had to get my act together.  That decision came after I decided whether or not I wanted to just ignore the 2014 Sochi Olympics entirely.  These games have sadly been marred by one scandal after another.  I gave very strong consideration to not showing any support for these Olympic Games, but I just couldn’t do it.   I support the athletes, athletes who are braving these threats and this level of discrimination, and who are meeting athletes from all over the world poised to do the same.  I want to believe that these Olympic Games can be a part of something bigger, that maybe this collective outrage can help more people get on the right side of history.  The Olympic Charter states “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”  I can’t disagree with that, and I’m tuning in for what I hope will be a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play.

Ordinarily, I would start a series like this on the opening night of the big event.  With twelve brand new events added to the Sochi Olympics, the Games started last night ahead of today’s Opening Ceremonies.  Slopestyle snowboarding, and team figure skating events that took place yesterday are among those twelve new events.  For the 2012 Summer Olympics, we kicked off with Olympic ring doughnuts.  For the 2014 Winter Olympics, we have Olympic torch cupcakes.  You can use any cake recipe you like to make these, or even boxed cake mix if you’re so inclined.  I used a basic white cake recipe and added a little orange food coloring for effect.  The kiddos devoured these (cake, frosting, ice cream cones- what’s not to love?!), and they went a long way toward helping us all find some Olympic spirit.

olympic torch cupcakes top

Olympic Torch Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Your favorite cake batter, enough for 12 cupcakes OR your favorite cake mix prepared according to package directions, OR:

  • 1 C. butter, softened
  • 1/2 C. vegetable shortening
  • 3 C. sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 C. buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

and

  • 12 flat-bottom ice cream cones
  • food coloring (I used orange and yellow to frost these like torch flames- this is optional)
  • Your favorite buttercream frosting

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make cake batter according to box or recipe directions.  If you’re using the cake recipe here, start by creaming the butter and shortening together until it is light and fluffy using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer.

Add the sugar to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, combining them fully after each addition.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture 1 egg at a time, blending fully before adding the next egg, until all eggs have been added.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, to the butter mixture.  Begin and end with the dry ingredients.

Mix for about 5 seconds on high speed to be sure everything is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give the mixture one last mix at high speed for 5 seconds.

Place an ice cream cone standing up in each cavity of a 12-cavity muffin pan.

Fill each ice cream cone 3/4 full with batter.  Do not fill them more than this, or the cake will not cook through properly. You may have extra batter, depending on the volume of batter made by your cake recipe.  You can fill additional cones if you have them, or pour the batter into paper-lined cavities of a second muffin pan.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when pressed.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

To frost the cupcakes like torches, mix half of the frosting with yellow food coloring and the other half with orange food coloring, to reach desired shades.

Fill a cake decorating bag (or resealable plastic bag) fitted with a star tip (I used Wilton #22, but any open star tip will work fine) with both colors of frosting.  To do this, place the bag already fitted with the tip into a large drinking cup so it is upright and you don’t have to hold onto it.

Tip the cup to one side and spoon in the orange frosting, so it fills half of the bag vertically (it doesn’t have to be perfectly half).

Keeping the cup tipped, put the yellow frosting into the bag, filling the bag with both colors at the same time. Frost each cupcake in a spiral, building the spiral up to reach the desired height as shown above.

Source: cake recipe from Add a Pinch

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Teddy Bear Picnic

If you follow this blog on Facebook or Twitter, you got a sneak peek of today’s post last week.  Last week we celebrated the end of kindergarten for O, the end of third grade for M, and the end of the school year that felt like it would never end.  A tropical storm and other weather events ate up all of the built-in snow days, and any days off that were left were consumed when the kids had a week off due to the February blizzard and other big snow storms.  It seemed so odd to be sending the kiddos off for their annual Fourth of July trip to grandma’s just days after school let out.  When the kiddos return on Friday it’s time for our camping trip with friends and I can’t get over that last year it felt like there was an eternity between the end of the school year and packing up the tents.

O’s class celebrated the end of the year with a beach themed party.  He was pretty excited to be wearing his new sunglasses to school, but he was even more excited that I volunteered to send in some cupcakes.  I wanted to keep with the beach theme so a teddy bear day at the beach was a great idea.  The school’s mascot is a bear, and O loves his teddy bear (they’ve been known to wear matching pajamas) so these were perfect.  Because I’d rather not be thrown out of the PTA, I decided to give the sunbathing bears some frosting swim suits.  Maybe I over think things like this, but I had visions of O pointing out that there are naked bears on his cupcake, and the classroom disintegrating into hysterical giggling as I get a phone call from the office.  Don’t think this could happen?  You clearly haven’t met O or his classmates.  Luckily I had frosting hanging around from the decorate-your-own cupcakes at M’s slumber party.  If you don’t have frosting hanging around already, leave yourself enough white frosting before coloring the rest blue for the cupcakes, separate it into bowls and add food coloring to make the colors you’d like for the bathing suits.  These are really simple to make once the ingredients are assembled, and they were loved by both kids and adults at the end of the year beach party.

teddy bear beach party cupcakes

 

Teddy Bear Beach Party Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 24 of your favorite cupcakes
  • batch of buttercream frosting (divided if you need to color frosting for swim suits)
  • 1 C. graham cracker crumbs
  • assorted food coloring
  • 48 Teddy Graham cookies
  • 2 rolls (from a 6 count package) Fruit by the Foot
  • 24 Life Savers Gummies (or Peach Rings, or Gummy Rings would also work)
  • 24 drink umbrellas

Directions:

If you need to make frosting for the teddy bear’s bathing suits (I only gave the bears that would be laying out on towels swimsuits), separate about 1/8 of the batch of buttercream frosting into as many bowls as you’d like swim suit colors (you will need a really small amount of each color).  Add food coloring to make desired colors, then transfer to resealable plastic bags.  Snip a tiny piece of the corner of the bag off and pipe on the swimsuits.  Allow the frosting to dry before proceeding.

Take the remaining buttercream and add blue food coloring until the frosting reaches the desired color for the “water.”

Frost the top of each cupcake evenly with the blue frosting.

Dip half of each cupcake into the graham cracker crumbs and lightly press the crumbs into the frosting so that they stick.

To assemble the bears in “tubes,” gently push the legs of the Teddy Graham through the Life Saver Gummie until the gummie is around the bear’s “waist.”

Insert the legs of the bear in his “tube” into the top of the cupcake, in the “water.”

To assemble the bears on “towels,” unroll the rolls of Fruit by the Foot and cut pieces roughly 1 inch long until you have 24 one inch towels.

Pipe a small amount of frosting onto the back of 24 of the Teddy Grahams (for me, these were the same 24 that had swim suits piped on) and press the Teddy Graham onto the piece of Fruit by the Foot.

Peel the wax paper backing off of the piece of Fruit by the Foot, pipe a small amount of frosting onto the back of the Fruit by the Foot, and press the “towel” onto the graham cracker crumbs on top of the cupcake.  Repeat until each cupcake has a bear in a tube and a bear on a towel.

Unfold and place the drink umbrellas into the cupcakes.

Makes 24 decorated cupcakes.

Source: idea adapted from Betty Crocker

teddy bear cupcakes

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Sister Vanilla

I remember when I was a kid, any time someone had a birthday there would be cupcakes at school.  It was always a welcome sight to see a classmate navigating the hallway and trying to juggle a lunch box, backpack, and a box of cupcakes.  We knew it would be a good day, because we’d get a break from unimportant matters like fractions while we devoured the goodies and left a trail of paper wrappers and crumbs all over our desks.  This happened every single birthday.  If your birthday fell on a weekend, you were either carting those cupcakes in on Friday or Monday because there was no way that you weren’t going to have cupcakes with your class on your birthday.  If you had a summer birthday, you were bringing in those cupcakes in June so that you weren’t left out.  The problem with this logic was that it didn’t matter if you shared a birthday with another classmate (that meant TWO cupcakes on the SAME day!) or if there was a birthday every day for two weeks straight (cupcakes every day! Heaven!).  Now things are a little different.  The kiddos celebrate all of the birthdays for the month on one day.  The labor is divided up among the parents who have kids with birthdays that month.  One parent can sign up for cupcakes, another for cookies, someone sends in fruit, another parent sends in veggies, and then there’s juice and paper goods.  Some people might think it’s a sad world these kids live in that there is zero possibility of daily cupcakes at school, but I think it’s genius.

My mom would ask us what kind of cupcakes we wanted to send in.  It didn’t matter if we knew from previous experience (June birthday means I had all kinds of time to conduct this research) that no one else in the class liked chocolate cupcakes.  They could skip this round of cupcakes and there would probably be more cupcakes in a few days.  It was MY birthday and if I wanted chocolate cupcakes, too bad for anyone that didn’t.  They could wait a few days for the inevitable box of vanilla cupcakes to arrive.  Because of the one celebration a month rule that’s in place now, we all have to be a little more considerate.  M doesn’t love chocolate cupcakes and so when we’re celebrating something for her, I steer away from making them.  Because this was a celebration including her birthday, it didn’t seem fair to send her off with cupcakes she wouldn’t enjoy.  I made chocolate s’mores cupcakes but to accommodate M and any other classmate who isn’t a chocolate fan, I made this vanilla version as well.  It was fitting because when we make s’mores, M is happy to leave the chocolate behind and sandwich the marshmallow all alone between two graham crackers.  I probably could have just made some vanilla cupcakes and called it a day, but s’mores scream “summer” to me, and when I think of s’mores I think of chocolate.  I used it as an opportunity to discuss compromise, but really I wanted to see if I would miss the chocolate from a s’more dessert.  These are reminiscent of that idea- a graham cracker crust, vanilla cupcake, and some marshmallow fluff frosting.  They’re absolutely delicious and were a great alternative for the kids who don’t love chocolate, but it’ll always be tough to sell me a chocolate-free s’more.

vanilla s'more cupcakes

Vanilla S’mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

Ingredients:

for the graham cracker crust:

  • 1 1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs
  • 7 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar

for the vanilla cake:

  • 1½ C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • ½ C. sour cream
  • 1 large egg , room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks , room temperature
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract

for the marshmallow fluff frosting:

  • 7-8 oz. jar marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff)
  • 1-2 C. confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 C. softened butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cavity muffin pan with cupcake liners.

To make the graham cracker crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl.

Pour the butter over the mixture and stir to combine until the mixture resembles coarse, wet sand.

Place about 1 Tbsp. of the graham cracker mixture into each cupcake liner and press down using your fingers or the bottom of a drinking glass into an even layer on the bottom of the cupcake liner.

To make the cake batter, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl.

Add the butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla.

Beat at medium speed for about 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and stir by hand until the batter is completely smooth.

Fill the prepared cupcake liners 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, until the tops are pale gold and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes to a wire cooling rack to cool completely to room temperature before frosting.

To make the frosting, put the marshmallow fluff into a large mixing bowl or the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat the butter and fluff together until smooth.

Beat in the vanilla extract.

Beat in the powdered sugar about 1/2 C. at a time, beating until the sugar is completely incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Use as much or as little powdered sugar as needed to reach your desired consistency (depending on humidity and how I want to frost the cupcakes, I’ve used up to 3 C. of powdered sugar.  For these, I used a little over 2 C. and it piped really well).

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes using a resealable bag with a corner cut off or a pastry bag not fitted with a decorating tip, or as desired.

To garnish, if desired, top with a square of chocolate (I used fun-size Hershey bars and cut them into 4 squares where they are scored).

Makes 12 cupcakes (you make get more but I consistently get 12 out of the graham cracker crust, with a little bit of  extra cake batter).

Source: graham cracker crust adapted from Cookies &  Cups; vanilla cupcake from Brown Eyed Baker; marshmallow fluff frosting from Please Pass the Pie

vanilla s'more cupcakes tray

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Do Overs

Back in the earlier days of this blog, I made some s’more cupcakes.  They tasted great, but to be honest you’d never really know that from the photo I posted, so today I’m sharing a s’more cupcake do-over.  While I still have plenty to learn about food photography, I think it’s become better and I’ve done a better job of making the things I cook and bake more appealing.  We do eat with our eyes, after all.  I have also learned a lot about food both for personal reasons and because of this site.  When the oven quits and it’s 100 degrees out and I need to trudge to a second location to make a dessert for a cookout and all that’s hanging around is a random box of cake mix, some cake mix whoopie pies aren’t the worst idea a girl’s ever entertained, but I don’t reach for cake mix to make actual cakes.  It’s a trade-off, and it’s about balance.  My personal stance (and I’m not saying this is what everyone should do, it’s simply food for thought) is that convenience foods are for just that- convenience, and they happen once in a while.  Everyday foods get more care and attention.  I don’t send the kiddos to school with marshmallow fluff sandwiches, but to make some cupcake frosting I can live with marshmallow fluff as a starting point.  Sandwiches are a daily lunch box staple, a box of cupcakes to share at a class birthday party aren’t a daily thing.

Having made marshmallow fluff at home before, I opted to reach for a tub of marshmallow fluff instead.  The first factor was convenience, obviously.  The second was that this is a “sometimes food,” and the third was that even homemade fluff isn’t something I’d consider to be a health food.  Sure, it eliminates the high fructose corn syrup (depending on the brand of corn syrup you use), but you do still need corn syrup and plenty of sugar to make it.  It also involves tempering egg whites, and if you’re not familiar with/ comfortable with that process, I’ll tell you firsthand that nothing ruin’s a day’s baking schedule faster than accidentally scrambling your egg whites instead of tempering them.  They must be properly tempered or you risk feeding people undercooked eggs.

Besides, I would be lying if I said that marshmallow fluff frosting for these updated s’mores cupcakes didn’t make me happy.  It’s easy to make, and it offers the taste and texture of a gooey marshmallow that we all love on a s’more.  I volunteered to make cupcakes for M’s class celebration of the summer birthdays, and s’mores seemed like a fun and summery idea.  Last time I made these, I put a marshmallow on top and semi-toasted it in lieu of actual frosting.  I was happy with that result, but I knew these could be better.  I kept the graham cracker crust, updated the chocolate cake portion, and topped these with marshmallow fluff frosting instead of a plain marshmallow and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

chocolate s'more cupcakes

Chocolate S’more Cupcakes with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

Ingredients:

for the graham cracker crust:

  • 1 1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs
  • 7 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar

for the chocolate cake:

  • 1 C. water
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

for the marshmallow fluff frosting:

  • 7-8 oz. jar marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff)
  • 1-2 C. confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 C. softened butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cavity muffin pan with cupcake liners.

To make the graham cracker crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl.

Pour the butter over the mixture and stir to combine until the mixture resembles coarse, wet sand.

Place about 1 Tbsp. of the graham cracker mixture into each cupcake liner and press down using your fingers or the bottom of a drinking glass into an even layer on the bottom of the cupcake liner.

To make the cake batter, boil the water in a small saucepan.

Place the cocoa powder into a mixing bowl, then pour the boiling water over it and stir until smooth.

Cool the mixture to room temperature by placing it in the refrigerator while you complete the remaining cupcake steps.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Beat the vanilla extract into the butter mixture until just combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating the mixture just until the ingredients are combined.

Pour the cooled cocoa mixture into the bowl in a slow steady stream while stirring.  Stir until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the cupcake batter into the cupcake liners on top of the graham cracker mixture so that each cavity is 3/4 full.

Bake for 16-19 minutes, and start checking them at 15 minutes to ensure they don’t burn or over-bake.  I’ve had mine fully baked at the 15 minute mark, and other times at the 20 minute mark.

Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, put the marshmallow fluff into a large mixing bowl or the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat the butter and fluff together until smooth.

Beat in the vanilla extract.

Beat in the powdered sugar about 1/2 C. at a time, beating until the sugar is completely incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Use as much or as little powdered sugar as needed to reach your desired consistency (depending on humidity and how I want to frost the cupcakes, I’ve used up to 3 C. of powdered sugar.  For these, I used a little over 2 C. and it piped really well).

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes using a resealable bag with a corner cut off or a pastry bag not fitted with a decorating tip, or as desired.

To garnish, if desired, top with a square of chocolate (I used fun-size Hershey bars and cut them into 4 squares where they are scored).

Makes 12 cupcakes (you make get more but I consistently get 12 out of the graham cracker crust, with extra cake batter).

Source: graham cracker crust adapted from Cookies & Cups; chocolate cupcakes from Sally’s Baking Addiction; frosting from Please Pass the Pie

chocolate s'more cupcake tray

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Well Done Girl

Last week, the Youth Advisory Council in our town celebrated “Positive Choices Week.”  Various events were held to promote making positive choices, including avoiding drugs and alcohol.  We were very excited to be guests at the award ceremony the Council held last Thursday, where M was recognized as the pencil slogan winner.  Her slogan, “A Positive Attitude = A Positive Life,” was printed on pencils that will be handed out at Council events and to all of the students at her school.  This comes on the heels of having one of her art class projects selected for display at the town-wide school art show.  Previous school years have been a little rough, but this year she has blossomed and takes both her school work and her friendships very seriously and has excelled.  This year, we have emphasized that it is better to be recognized for positive contributions and for doing your best than it is to be recognized for being the class clown.  M is an incredibly bright, sensitive, creative girl and it is wonderful that her peers and teachers can focus on that instead of calling home to say “can we get your kid to stop dancing in the middle of class and losing her school supplies?”  Setting clear expectations has helped M show everyone the things she has always been capable of, and we’re so glad to see her shine.  M has really risen to the occasion this year, and there aren’t enough ways to remind her how proud of her we are.

Cupcakes are a good start.  We wanted to have a little celebration to recognize her accomplishments so I made cupcakes.  I wanted to pick a flavor that I knew she would love, which meant no chocolate cake.  Any time we go out for a meal, both kids want lemonade (“We don’t have to have milk? Now it’s a party!”) so as soon as the thought of lemonade cupcakes came about, there was no choice that seemed more perfect.  As a bonus for M, the frosting is pink and so these screamed “Haha, my little brother didn’t get to pick the flavor!”  This was important, as she was the guest of honor at this little cupcake party.  If you love lemonade like these two do, these are the cupcakes for you.  The cupcake is moist and full of lemon flavor, and the pink lemonade frosting gives these a great sweetness.  Even if these two drink lemonade even when it’s so tart it’s like sucking on lemon wedges (which they’ve been know to do  . . .), the cupcakes are a nice balance of tart and sweet, like a perfect glass of fresh lemonade.

pink lemonade cupcake

Lemonade Cupcakes with Pink Lemonade Frosting

Ingredients:

for the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. lemon extract)
  • 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C. milk
  • zest and juice of two medium lemon

for the frosting:

  • 1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 C. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 C. heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or 2 tsp. lemon extract)
  • red food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cavity muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer) beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until creamed.

Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes until combined.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring to combine after each addition (batter will be thick).

Add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix just until combined.

Pour the batter evenly into the cupcake liners (I use an ice cream scoop and fill each cavity about 1/2 to 2/3 full).

Bake for 18-20 minutes, checking at 18 minutes to see if a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the butter on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer).

Beat for 3-4 minutes until the butter is smooth and fluffy.

Add 3 C. of the powdered sugar, cream, lemon juice or extract, and salt.

Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 3 minutes.

If the frosting is too thin, add remaining powdered sugar a small amount at a time, beating after each addition.  If the frosting is too thick, add more cream in small amounts, beating after each addition, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.  I like to pipe the frosting onto the cupcake, so I need mine a little thicker than I would if I were going to spread it on top instead.

If using, beat in the food coloring (add no more than 1-2 drops or a very small amount at a time, a little red food coloring tends to go a long way) until desired shade of pink is reached.

Frost the cooled cupcakes (I frosted these by fitting a resealable bag with a Wilton #32 decorator tip and piping it onto each cupcake).

Makes 12 cupcakes (you may have leftover frosting depending on how much frosting you like on each cupcake).

Source: adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

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