How I Spent $40 at Michael’s on Cupcake Liners

So, those disastrous cherry cola cupcakes? They were supposed to be for a bake sale at Hubs’ office to raise money for a breast cancer walk. Discouraged and running out of time, I whipped up a quick batch of vanilla. I know. Boring. But sometimes a boring cupcake paired with a subtle frosting is just the thing to make the frosting flavor more pronounced. I adore my maraschino cherry frosting, but it’s not a bold flavor and can be trumped by the cake. The Cherry Vanilla combo was a perfect way to get the full feel of the maraschino flavoring.

Hubs reported back that they were a hit at the bake sale. Now, my husband shows his love in many ways–affection, gifts, overall tolerance of my shenanigans–but compliments are not usually in his repertoire. My sister-in-law once commented at a wedding that Hubs’ brother hadn’t yet commented on how she looked dressed up with hair and make up done. I laughed. I’m pretty sure the words “get use to it” were exchanged.  It’s not that they don’t care or aren’t thinking it–they just don’t verbalize it. So when my husband told me that my cupcakes looked the best and that they had a great reception, I was elated. Of course, when he told me he lent out my Martha Stewart carrying case to a coworker who was taking many baked goods home with her, I informed him the exact section of Macy’s he would be visiting should it not be returned in a timely manner.

In other news, I went to Michael’s yesterday to see what their cupcake liner selection was like and walked out with about $40 worth of fun. To be fair, I have a couple of events coming up for which I’ll be needing the good stuff  but some were impulse buys rationalized as “good to have on hand.” I started off with just the liners I needed for a party in November. I knew the colors but kept going back and forth about which patterns and styles. Then I started looking at the flower petal liners. Then the bright pink animal print. The purple damask. Then I wandered into a section of cut out designs that go AROUND the liners. Cupcake Accessories!! I had to practically cover my eyes and sprint by the sprinkles, glitter, and dyes. And yes, it did feel like I was cheating on New York Cake Supplies but my level headed husband pointed out that maybe it wasn’t worth the $20 ticket into the city just to buy cupcake liners. Surely I would have found something else to do, but that probably would have involved more money spent on food and drinks. Life is tough.

 

*I forgot to photograph the gorgeous dozen that I sent off to the bake sale, so this is a photo of the small end-of-the frosting cupcake I had left over.

 

 

Cherry Almond Cupcakes

Cupcake Week continues!

The next little dessert on our tour is the uber adorable Cherry Almond cupcake. What is it about topping desserts with maraschino cherries that make them ridiculously cute? I didn’t have to experiment too much with this recipe–I knew after I made the maraschino frosting a few weeks ago that it would pair well with almond cake. I have a vanilla cake that I’m loving right now so I simply added a couple of tablespoons (yup tablespoons) of almond extract and achieve the new flavor. I tried a bite fresh from the oven and I was worried that it was too almondy, but once cooled and frosted it worked perfectly. I wrestled with the pink frosting for my nephew, but this is 2012, if we can’t eat pink cupcakes to celebrate a baby boy, then we’re practically cavemen.

If your wondering where those gorgeous paper cups came from, I got them during my last trip to NY Cake and I’m pretty sure I squealed with delight, out load, in the middle of the store. These beautiful cupcake accessories prove that if you can’t bake it, fake it. I don’t think you could dislike even the worst tasting cupcake if it was dressed in these little ensembles.

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I used the Ateco 858 tip on these, which gives that great soft serve sundae look, especially suited for the cherry on top. Again, the wider the tip and the more frosting you use, the easier it is to create a polished look. I promise it will fool everyone into thinking you know what you’re doing. Man, I’m giving away all of my tricks today.

To throw these together, I used the maraschino cherry frosting previous mentioned and cupcakerecipes.com’s poundcake cupcakes with two tablespoons of almond extract. Top it all with a cherry and sprinkles.

Cherry Cheesecake Bites

When I was little, my mother had an affectionate pet name for me. Just as your mom may have called you sweetie or cookie or munchkin, my mom had a moniker which she used both in private and public and I didn’t think twice about its meaning or relevance. Then one day we were at my uncle’s house and Mom referred to me by that nickname. My cousin stopped and stared at me. “Why does your mom call you ‘Liz’?” she asked. What a strange question. Didn’t my Aunt refer to my cousin as “Liz”? Wasn’t “Liz” the equivalent of Darling or Honey? What could my cousin possibly mean? It was only later that I realized “Liz” was a nickname for Elizabeth and in no way a pet name for a girl named Jessica. I had simply accepted my mother’s word as the gospel and was too young to understand that one universal truth of my life: My mom is quirky.

  

Do you ever find that you’ve accepted the weird things about the people you love, only to have someone point out that, in fact, these quirks aren’t quite the norm? The reason I started thinking about this is because last week I received an envelope in the mail from my mother, who lives 20 miles from me and who I can count on seeing at least twice a month. And yet, it is not at all unusual for me to receive these envelopes. They usually contain newspaper clippings which she thinks might interest me, and often she’s right. Recipes and articles on how to supplement my diet since I don’t eat a lot of meat. Engagement and wedding announcements from our local paper. Before the Super Bowl, she brought over an article on how to throw a successful Super Bowl party from the Wall Street Journal and at the Super Bowl it was a clip about Downton Abbey. When I was living in Maryland, she even sent me a magazine article about parents who send their children magazine articles. (True story.) To be honest, I love this about my mother—it means she’s thinking about me and she knows my interests.

  

However, these mailing are not usually of the utmost priority so a couple of weeks ago when an envelope arrived in the mail, I unthinkingly left it in a pile. A few days later, my husband came home from a business trip and, while opening his mail, he pulled out the envelope from my mother. I opened it up and out fell a €5 note and a piece of paper with a typed message indicating she didn’t think she’d remember to give it to me. My husband could not understand why my mother had sent me five Euros or why she even had five Euros. I’ve long accepted my mother’s mailing prowess, but the more I rationalized the Euros, the funnier the situation became. Ironically, I will bet you €5 that I forget to bring the money with me the next time I’m inEurope. But now I’m wondering—what strange influence might I have on others? What weird things do I do that are accepted and tolerated by those around me? You know, besides blogging about their quirks…

  

Get ready for your non sequitur of the day—look at these gorgeous cheesecakes! I love that this recipe doesn’t even bother with crust. It is 100% cheesecake and 100% delicious. These little guys are perfect for a party where you’re serving a variety of desserts (like two-bite whoopie pies!) because you don’t have to commit yourself to an entire piece of cheesecake—not that that would be a terrible thing, but you save room in your stomach and guilt from your conscience to have these little bites. It also helps that they are beautiful and look great on display.

 

I followed the Williams-Sonoma recipe exactly except for two things—I cut it in half because I was anticipating several desserts and instead of their strawberry topping, I bought a can of cherry pie filling and scooped a little bit onto each mini-cake and then plopped a few blueberries on the top, only because I had them in the fridge anyway. My cheesecakes puffed up at first into domes and I was worried that the topping wouldn’t stay on, but they ended up deflating and left perfect little cups for the cherry filling. I had this same “problem” with cupcakes I made recently and I discovered the issue might be that my oven is too hot (more on that Wednesday). In any case, be not afraid if you see a little deflation—just more room for cherry goodness!