Tuesday, September 1, 2009
As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to birthdays, nothing is better than getting homemade cupcakes. Remember back in elementary school when your mom/dad/aunt/grandma would deliver them to your classroom and surprise you? Oh you don't? ... yeah me either. Lame. But there was always that one kid in class with the crazy hyper super mom that seemed to be involved in every activity possible, and couldn't let a birthday go by without baking 100 dozen cupcakes for her daughter or son, and then passing them out one by one to the entire school. Really, Susie's mom? My birthday is May 5th, Cinco De Mayo, super easy to remember. See ya then.
2 weeks ago I made "The Ultimate Gluten Free Birthday Cupcake" for my 3 year old (I'm obviously trying to meet Susie's mom halfway).
Last Friday was my friend Marie's birthday. I'm not big on gift giving these days, mostly because I never know what to get anybody, and would hate for them to dislike whatever it was that I got. Also, because I have two kids that don't have any socks on their feet, so... pros and cons, ya know? I remembered that last time we had gone out, she had wanted to stop by Starbucks. Liking coffee isn't exactly a defining characteristic of somebody, but I had to run with what I had. I put "Starbucks truffles" down on the shopping list, along with "instant coffee". I would make her mocha flavored cupcakes.
Marie isn't gluten free, but I am, so anything that comes out of my kitchen will be as well. I had a box of gluten free Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix on hand (its really a great go-to mix, I need to pick up some more), that I prepared two days in advance. After the cupcakes were baked, I stored them in the freezer. It is much easier to frost a frozen cupcake, and if you're new to gluten free baking, freezing them preserves their moisture. Gluten free things typically dry out quickly.
Friday morning I woke up bright and early (thanks for that Charlie) to combine my sugar and butter in a bowl, and put my pastry bag to work. I made the mistake of sharing bites of frosting (coffee frosting, way to go mom) with my 3 year old. You can probably imagine how the rest of the day went, that having been her very first dance with caffeine. I had baked the cupcakes in unbleached baking cups from the health food store, which were the perfect color to go with the mocha theme. I used my star piper, and with a swirl of the wrist and the dab of a truffle, they were finished!
The Ultimate Caffeinated Gluten Free Birthday Cupcake:
-Bake chocolate cupcakes in advance, allowing time to freeze. For an easy option, I suggest (gluten free) Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix, or Pamela's chocolate cake mix. Or if you've got all the fixings on hand to do them up from scratch, you go girl.
-To stay with the mocha theme, use brown paper baking cups.
The Mocha Frosting:
(this is also vegan)
-2 cups powdered sugar
-3/4 cups earth balance
-2 tablespoons powdered cocoa
-1 tablespoon vanilla
-1 tablespoon instant coffee
-splash of soy milk optional
-Beat beat beat. Mix mix mix. Make it fluffy!! Adjust it to taste the way you want it to taste. Add more powdered sugar to stiffen your frosting (it will also harden after the cupcakes have been refrigerated). I think I added extra chocolate into my mix, because the coffee flavor was a little overpowering at first. Play with it and make it your own.
-Top off cupcakes with a chocolate covered coffee bean, Starbucks truffle, or maybe a little hot chocolate powder.
To make these extra fancy, because visual effects are what put "The Ultimate" into this recipe, pick up a cupcake box at your local craft store. They're only a few dollars, and will be nice to have on hand. Or, forget the box, and just take them to your neighbor on a plate, assuming that you'll get your plate back, haha.
After I arranged my cupcakes (I picked the best 6 out of the full dozen), I was going to wrap the box with twine and attach a cute little "happy birthday" note, but... I knew that after I presented her with the cupcakes, I'd be stealing them to take and photograph outside. The possibilities for cupcake giving are pretty much endless, and aren't easily forgettable when it comes to birthday memories.
Yumm! Enjoy <3