After college, I rediscovered my love for baking cupcakes when I found Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes. This is a great starting point for cupcake enthusiasts, as many recipes call for ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen or could easily find at the local supermarket. Anyone who’s picked up this book will recognize these Ladybug Cupcakes. They’re cute, delicious, fun to make, and guaranteed to make a co-worker or two smile. Invest in a multi-opening piping tip, and purchase either gum paste or marzipan to roll out some ladybugs (marzipan is much easier to dye and work with, not to mention more edible). Although the recipe calls for Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I find that regular buttercream holds the grass blade peaks much better. However, Swiss Meringue Buttercream has a lighter and smoother taste and texture, so that is the trade-off.
I have early memories of baking cupcakes with my mom in the kitchen. It was probably Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines or Pillsbury, depending on whatever was on sale. I pushed for Pillsbury, the kind with sprinkles.
My mom’s secret was adding orange juice concentrate instead of water to the cake mix. All you need is the frozen can variety of orange juice concentrate, and depending on how strong of a citrus flavor you’re looking for, add about one and a half to two cans of water to the concentrate (usually three cans are required for orange juice). Then, measure out the volume of “water” called for by the box instructions. Voilà, your cupcakes now taste like homemade orange coffee cake, and you have an excuse to eat one every day for breakfast! Here, I’ve piped standard buttercream chrysanthemum flowers on orange flavored yellow cake.
I am so used to this added flavor now that whenever I make ordinary white or yellow cake, it always seems to be missing something . . .
Today is Milo’s birthday! Our Coton de Tulear is now one year old, and certainly no longer a puppy. He is now tall enough and feisty enough to stand up and nab his birthday-doggy-donut from the dining table. However, as any parent would sayor in this case, doggie parentin our eyes, Milo will always be our little baby puppy. (He certainly still acts likes one!)
I promised myself that on Milo’s first birthday, I would start this blog. With the demands and stresses of my job, a new geographic location without old friends or any easy way to make new ones, and a loving husband who has been kidnapped by something called medical school, I often feel like I have to seek out and treasure the little things that make me happy. Two of those things, without fail, are Milo and cupcakes (both baking and eating them). With this blog, I hope to keep at least those two loves of my life at the forefront of my mind, so that I always have a reason to smile. Hopefully I can share those smiles with you too.