bunny butt cupcakes

photo 2

I'll be the first to admit, I may have overdone it a bit this Easter. :-) But if there's one thing you should know about me it's that when I get an idea to do something, there's pretty much nothing that will stop me from at least attempting it. (Do I need to remind you about the weekender bags?) So when I saw these little bunny butts on Pinterest I knew they needed to be on top of my Easter cupcakes. I mean, come on. They're so stinking cute. Yes, I was sick. Yes, Emma is in the middle of a major sleep regression and I don't remember the last time we got a good night's sleep. But these little tushes were calling me. I had to make them.

I followed the instructions on Hungry Happenings nearly exactly... she used modeling chocolate, but since I'm still off dairy, I used fondant. I followed this recipe to whip up some homemade marshmallow fondant, and was relieved to find it easier than I thought it would be. The only hiccup came when I ended up needing to transfer the mixture back into a glass bowl (from the mixer bowl) so I could microwave it a smidge more in order to get the last of the mini marshmallows to melt. I also used Crisco instead of butter, as several reviewers suggested.

The bunny butts were easy enough to assemble... just time consuming. I hadn't worked with fondant before, and it felt very similar to working with clay or play-doh.

Now all that was left was to make the actual cupcakes. I decided to make strawberry cupcakes but had to use box mix because it's dairy free and sooo much better than trying to make vegan cupcakes from scratch. I also used store-bought vanilla frosting for the same reason. I hate cheating, but given how much time went into making the bunny butts, I didn't feel too bad about it. Anyway, I dyed the frosting green with gel color and used Wilton's grass piping tip (#233) to make it look like the bunny butts were sitting on a bed of grass.

Oh look at those cute little tushes! Thankfully, they were just as tasty as they were cute (the cupcake part anyway... fondant is kinda meh.) I'd love to make them again with the modeling chocolate from the original recipe and with chocolate cake so it looks like dirt underneath the grass. How many days until next Easter? :-)

Funny enough, after all that hard work I decided I couldn't bear to toss the leftover green frosting, so I whipped up a half batch of Annie's Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies. (Don't judge me.) The verdict? Deeeelicious. Maybe even better than the grocery store bakery kind she was trying to replicate. I highly recommend them if you need to use up some frosting. Or if you want to make sure those last few pounds of pregnancy weight stay right where they are. These are really good for that. Trust me.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!

Peep strawberry cupcakes

peep cupcakes_side view

My block had a potluck Easter dinner this year, so - naturally - I signed up to bring dessert.  And, as with most things, I went a bit overboard.  (Hey, I gotta take advantage of having time to take on crazy baking adventures before the baby comes!)

I'd been wanting to make Sprinkles strawberry cupcakes for a while now, and they seemed a bit Easter-ish, so that's where I started. You apparently have to follow the recipe from this YouTube video (click on "show more"), because the recipe posted on MarthaStewart.com and elsewhere is wrong.  Overall, I really liked the taste of these cupcakes - though I probably could have taken them out a minute or two earlier.  The frosting, on the other hand, was aaaaa-mazing.  I doubled the recipe for both the cupcakes and frosting, and instead of 7 cups of confectioners sugar I only used 6.  There, it's in writing... one time in my life I used less sugar than I was supposed to.  Any more and I felt like the sweetness would have overwhelmed the strawberry flavor.

Once everything was baked and mixed, it was time to decorate.  My mom has always made a Peep cake for Easter, so I decided to carry on the tradition - with a twist.  I smeared a bit of frosting on the bottom of a Peep, stuck it to the cupcake, piped drops of frosting around the Peep using an Ateco #32 piping tip, and finished with a pinch of sprinkles.

Since not everyone is a fan of Peeps, I made half with fresh strawberries on top instead of Peeps.  (While I may never understand these Peep-haters, I still want them to eat my cupcakes.)

I used the same basic approach to decorating the strawberry version...

I'm not going to lie, I took a break in the middle of writing this post to eat the very last Peep cupcake.  So sad to see them go.  Until next year my Peep friends...

ho-ho-homemade buttercream frosting!

Oh cupcakes... is there anything better? No, especially if we're talking holiday cupcakes. Earlier today I decided to whip up some cupcakes for a holiday party we were going to this afternoon and after a quick Flickr search, decided to put my own spin on these.   I used Betty Crocker Devil's Food cake mix, and instead of store frosting I experimented with making my own buttercream frosting.  The first recipe I used was too sweet and almost glaze-like (which the reviews would have told me had I bothered to read them), so Jared and I hustled to the co-op down the street to get more butter and I tried for round 2, this time using a slightly different, much more positively reviewed recipe.  It tasted SO good, and with a bit of green food coloring the frosting was done.  (By the way, I had never previously looked into what was involved in making your own frosting, but it's surprisingly super easy.  If you can make cupcakes from a mix, you can definitely make your own frosting.)

Instead of using my standard knife to cupcake approach, I loaded the frosting into a Ziploc bag, snipped off a small corner, and tried my hand at piping the frosting onto the cupcakes.  It probably would have been easier to use a pastry bag and piping tip, but in a pinch I think the Ziploc baggy worked pretty well.  To finish off the cupcakes I sprinkled them with crushed candy canes and stuck each one with a mini candy cane.

the bird is the word

Thanksgiving in our house this year was far less stressful due to one essential addition to our appliance arsenal: The Big Easy Infrared Turkey Fryer from Char-Broil.  I was skeptical when Jared first told me about it, but after he tested it out with a small chicken a couple weeks ago, I knew he was on to something.  In addition to cooking perfectly juicy poultry in half the time of a normal oven, using the fryer this year meant one important thing: a free oven ALL DAY.  All of you who've attempted the chaos of trying to perfectly time all of your Thanksgiving dishes without a double oven - put this fryer on your Christmas list.

And here's the delicious turkey Jared cooked:

The seasoning was his Simon & Garfunkel blend of parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme whipped into butter with crumbled bacon

We tried a new stuffing this year, Tyler Florence's Carmelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing, and it was a big hit! Easily one of the best stuffings I've ever had. We couldn't find cornbread muffins, so we used an 8x8 tin of cornbread from Whole Foods instead, and it worked great.  Some of the reviews on Food Network said the stuffing turned out too dry, so I added a few extra splashes of heavy cream and stock just in case.

For dessert we had Martha Stewart's Old Fashioned Apple Pie and Sarah brought down a couple dozen of her famous cupcakes as a belated b-day/thanksgiving treat.  The most popular were the carrot with cream cheese frosting, and classic yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing (honestly, if there's a better cupcake on earth I have yet to find it.)  Sarah even made custom cupcake picks for the occasion using paper punches and her own little bird template.  Let me know if you'd be interested in a tutorial and I'll ask her to put one together.

For more food pics from our yummy little Thanksgiving dinner click here.

Thanksgiving weekend coming to an end can only mean two things: 1) running, yoga, and pilates are all very much in order, and 2) I have less than a month to finish a long list of Christmas crafts. Ack!