J is one. We survived a whole year. This isn’t a mom blog, so I’ll spare you the essay on how this makes me feel. I will add, however, that the last dinner I ate before he was born was the Everyday Food lentil and walnut burgers. They say spicy food makes you go into labor. I think being nearly 38 weeks pregnant probably helps. Anyway, I made two different versions of the cupcakes for his birthday party. The base recipe is for a cake with a chocolate glaze. The variation is to make cupcakes out of the batter and frost them with their white frosting. I made a double batch of the cupcakes and frosted about 2/3 and glazed a 1/3. That let us check off two recipes. And it made the party look fancier.
The cupcake recipe is tasty and tender. It holds up nicely to decoration. I liked the sour cream in this recipe. I think that’s what made it tender. For sheer deliciousness and chocolatiness, however, I have to recommend the Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe. It tastes like the chocolate cake from a Suzy Q. It’s incredibly moist and so deeply chocolate-flavored. It’s the only chocolate cake I make. Obviously, I had to make an exception here and try this other recipe. Will I make this recipe again? Probably not. I’ll use the Hersheys recipe like always. Sorry, EF.
Let’s start with the frosted cupcakes:
Look familiar? It’s supposed to look like candy corn. I split the frosting recipe into very rough thirds. I knew I needed more yellow than orange and more orange than white, but not by much. I colored the frosting with plain ol’ McCormick’s food coloring. Yeah, the liquid. If I was fancy, I would use paste food coloring. If I was fancy, I would use orange coloring instead of four drops of yellow and four drops of red. I guess I’m not fancy. I’m completely satisfied with how the color turned out. The yellow is eight drops of yellow, by the way.
The frosting recipe is not good, by the way. A stick and a half of butter to a pound of powdered sugar beaten together? Then you add a couple tablespoons of milk as needed? No, that’s not how it worked out. When I mixed the sugar and butter together, it was super thick. I added probably 1/2 cup to 1 cup of milk to get it to where I could pipe it.
My inspiration for the decoration came from where 8 out of 10 women get their inspiration in late 2013: Pinterest. “What’s Pinterest?” said the single men reading. “Exactly,” said the women. I didn’t have a big enough decorating tip to make it look like big, puffy whorls of frosting, like this. Instead, I made tight swirls with the small star tip. The yellow is one layer thick. The orange has two layers, the second just a little bit smaller than the first to build the cone shape. I started those layers from the center and worked my way out in a spiral shape. That probably wasn’t the way to do it. No matter how sure I was that I had the tip in the center of the cupcake at the beginning, my spiral was always just a little off-center at the end. That meant I had to graft a quick line of frosting to make sure the whole top was covered. By the time I got to the white frosting, I realized that I needed to start from the outside and work my way in. So I started just inside the outer edge of the second orange layer and worked the frosting into a spiral, letting some extra come out at the very end to make a conical tip. I remembered enough about cake decorating to remember that you have to release pressure on the bag before you pull up from frosting. If you do that, the frosting stops where you want it to right there on the cake. Otherwise, you get a bizarre little blob standing up straight in the air.
For the glazed cupcakes, I made the glaze recipe as written. The stroke of genius was when I realized that I was essentially making a Hostess cupcake. I had yellow frosting left over from the frosted cupcakes, so I decided that would be the filling. I took a plastic baby spoon and dug out a little cone shape from each cupcake. The point of the cone is down in the center of the cupcake. I then ate the very tip of the cone (because really, what else are you going to do with excess cupcake besides eat it?), scooped about a 1/2 teaspoon of frosting on to the now-blunt tip of the cone, and placed it back down on the cupcake. After the first try, I was able to get it so that the top of the cupcake was as even as it was before I took out the cone piece.
Then I turned the cupcake upside down, dunked it into the glaze to just past the tip of the paper wrapper (it looks prettier than leaving some bare cupcake around the edges), and set it down on a cooling rack. Once the glaze was set, I took the excess white frosting and a writing tip, and piped a cursive “J” on each cupcake. One important note: this glaze will not set and dry out like ganache. If you think you’re going to wait until the frosting feels like the top of a real Hostess cupcake, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But the glaze is nice in its own right. It keeps a sheen that ganache doesn’t, and it’s got a pleasant, sticky texture.
Happy birthday, J. If you ever read this, know that your mom went to these lengths because she loves you. And she loves cupcakes. If you’re old enough to read, you’ve probably worked that one out already.