Cupcakes make a splash!

My beautiful daughter turned three this July. She is a summer baby, so we celebrated with a backyard splash party. Since the party was going to be outside and the children ranged in age from 15 months to 4 years old,  I opted to keep dessert simple and serve cupcakes.  Kids love cupcakes and who can blame them? Cute little individual cakes wrapped in pretty paper are fun and festive!

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Since I know kids can be picky and I like to please as many palates as possible, I decided to make both chocolate and yellow cupcakes. For the chocolate cake, I went with Martha Stewart’s super easy recipe One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes. This was my first time trying this recipe and I was not dissapointed. These cupcakes baked up perfectly and were moist and yummy with a rich chocolaty flavor. I will definitely make this recipe  again in the future.

For the yellow cupcakes, I used a yellow cake recipe I found on Bakerella’s blog. Her blog is always full of creative and inspiring ideas and I love her beautiful photographs as well. I had used this recipe previously for a birthday cake and my daughters’ baptism cake. Both times, the recipe turned out such a flavorful and moist cake that I knew they would be perfect for cupcakes.

I did not have as much success using the recipe for cupcakes. I made half the recipe and it produced about 18 cupcakes, but I ended up making the recipe twice because I wasn’t happy with the first batch. The problem was that the batter’s volume practically doubles in the oven. In the first attempt, I filled the paper liners too much and ended up with only a dozen cupcakes. The batter expanded so much that the cupcakes were huge, but the tops were completely flat…little cakes with Frisbees on top. On the second attempt, I filled the liners just to the halfway point and the results were a little better and produced 18 cupcakes. But the tops were still kind of flat, not round and pretty like the chocolate ones. They did taste great, but in the future I will find a yellow cake recipe that holds up better for cupcakes.

For the frosting, I used my trusty Wilton’s Buttercream Icing recipe. I doubled the recipe and then divided it into 3 parts, tinting one hot pink, one yellow, and one aqua. My intention was to fill the cupcakes with cream filing. I have done this in the past and they are so tasty with a little sweet surprise in the middle. But I used a new recipe (something you should never do for the first time when baking for a special occasion) and I absolutely hated the results. Normally, the cream filling is very similar to the buttercream frosting and is easy to insert into the cupcakes using a pastry bag and decorating tip. But this recipe called for corn syrup and the cream was so gooey that it was next to impossible to fill the cupcakes with. It just squished out of the top of the pastry bag and made a giant mess so I didn’t bother with it.

But the cupcakes’ finishing touch, the “pièce de résistance”, was definitely the fondant decorations I made for the them. I wanted these to be extra special since they were for my little girl’s birthday, so I had to do something fun to decorate them. I purchased Wilton’s Ready to use Rolled Fondant. I personally don’t care for the taste of fondant, but using it for small decorations is great because you can just pick them off before you eat it. Because the party invitations featured them, I made adorable little flip flops and bathing suits out of  the fondant. I got the idea after seeing various photos of the flip flops on which led me to this You Tube video demonstrating how to make them. Whoever first thought of turning a butterfly into a pair of flip flops was just super creative! For the bathing suits, I simply cut out rectangles from the fondant and trimmed them to resemble a child’s bathing suit.

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My daughter took one look at these cupcakes and loved them! At three years old, this was the first birthday that she was truly excited about. She looked forward to her party for weeks and had so much fun helping me plan it. I don’t know who was more excited to celebrate her birthday…her or me!


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