This past Sunday was my wonderful neighbor, and very good friend Mary's daughter's bridal shower. It was such a nice bridal shower. The bridesmaid's did a fantastic job. A week before the shower, I received a call from Mary asking if I could make cupcakes for the shower. There was an issue with who was originally going to make the cake.
Could I make cupcakes? Of course!!!
It was an honor.
This shower's theme was
"Live, Laugh, Love".
Each cupcake received a banner with one of those words, or fondant heart cutouts.
I also made cupcakes for her other daughter's shower just a year ago. These were "grass" covered cupcakes with molded pink and white candy golf balls nestled on top. Obviously, this daughter's shower/wedding theme was golf. They turned out so cute, and were fun to make.
The two pictures above are actually photos taken of a picture. I had snapped photos of these cupcakes, but, unfortunately, those photos were part of the casualties of the death of my hard drive back in December.
On another occasion, a friend had me make cupcakes for her husband's 50th birthday party. Here, I tried to convey that "dark", over-the-hill theme, along with the gold of 50 years. Again, they turned out pretty neat. Each cupcake was dusted with edible black confetti and adorned with a Happy Birthday banner and the number 50 cut from fondant.
Some of the cakes were packaged in cellophane bags to take as favors at the end of the party.
Let me tell you, these cupcakes are sooo easy. I've posted before about how easy it is to make professional-looking cupcakes with the help of the right pastry bag and tips and a little practice. Simple butter cream icing is transformed into something special when using a pastry bag, colored food gel and maybe some sanding sugar, sprinkles or confetti. Add some personalized little banners, and they'll be an even bigger hit!
Another little thing I'll share with you all, is my secret - well it's not that big of secret! - for making quick and yummy delicious cupcakes. I like the Sandra Lee philosophy of making life easier by using the "semi-homemade" way. So I start with a store-bought cake mix.
Every thing's already in the mix, right?
And I like to stock-up on them when they're on sale. Sometimes snagging them for $1.00 a box.
My preference is Duncan Hines, preferably the Moist Deluxe, Dark Chocolate Fudge and French Vanilla flavors.
Totally ignoring the prep instructions on the box, I add a coordinating flavored pudding - chocolate pudding to chocolate mix, etc. Then the following ingredients:
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
Now, my experience has been these cupcakes have a tendency to sink a bit in middle as they're cooling - especially the chocolate ones. I've experimented with adding extra baking soda and/or baking powder, but haven't found just the right measurement to keep those tops from falling. Also, these have to be baked longer than the box states. Again, it might require some experimentation on your part based on your oven, altitude, etc. I usually bake mine an extra 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them after about the first 25 minutes. Not baking long enough will also result in fallen tops.
When my tops sink, I don't get too worked up about, though, cause that will be hidden with the yummy butter cream frosting! ;o)
About the frosting, here's a recipe for basic buttercream:
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla
up to 3 tbsp cream (I usually use my French vanilla coffee creamer)
Those measurements (specifically the additions of the sugar and cream) are very relative based on how soft your butter is, how much humidity that day, etc. Again, you'll have to work with it. And if you're using a pastry bag, you'll want the icing to be thin and smooth enough to squeeze out of the bag easily. A few times I didn't get it creamy enough, and it was a work-out squeezing out the icing!
So, there you have it! With just a tiny bit of practice, you can teach yourself the most basic piping techniques. Using the right tips, you can create some super-cute cupcakes. Another plus is, in my opinion, it is sooo much quicker and easier and less messy to pipe the icing than trying to frost the little cakes with an off-set spatula.
Give it a try!
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