I love being festive. So whether it’s Halloween, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Penny’s Birthday or most recently … the Fourth of July – I am always looking for new ways to participate and honor some festivity. Since I was headed to the lake for some great food and fun in the sun, I declared cupcakes to be the name of the game. I searched high and low for the perfect recipe. It would have to be a crafty mix of simplicity and impressiveness for me to pull this off. The recipe I went with was slightly more ambitious than I had originally intended, but I figure like with anything in life, particularly working out, the more I push myself, the better at baking I’ll become (and more quickly too!) Here was the gauntlet recipe.
I decided to start by attempting the star candies on top, since I had never engineered the creation of these little guys before. Also, I had a limited amount of time and had foolishly only purchased one tray of star molds, so it seemed like I should get crackin’ on it. Good thing I did, too, because it took me THREE TRIES to achieve the appropriate results.
First time out, I put the whole shebang in the microwave for 3 minutes and closed the door. When smoke started coming out the crack in the door, I got concerned. My lovely blue candies had turned into this:
Blech. Not very appetizing, and the texture doesn’t look quite right either.
Then Dan stepped in. He created a makeshift double boiler situation, which probably would have been alright, but he left me alone with an unfinished product, and so …
There was a flood in my pot. At this point, it was about 95 degrees in my kitchen, time was not on my side and I was getting frustrated. I had no choice but to read the directions. The side of the candy bag was actually very helpful and after heading back down the microwave route (on a lower temperature, in smaller increments and stirring in between) there was success! I poured the correctly colored, textured candy into a Ziploc bag and cut off a bit of the corner to create a makeshift pastry bag. After worrying over the distribution into the candy mold for several minutes, I emerged triumphant and ready to document my success.
I threw that sucker into the refrigerator and busily went about the rest of my preparations. I mixed the cake batter according to the directions on the box (I wasn’t about to take any chances, so I went straight to the source this time). Then I divided my batter among three bowls and broke out the food coloring:
Penny kept a watchful eye on me as she supervised. She wasn’t about to leave me alone a second time.
Under her skeptical glare, I layered in the different colors of batter into my equally festive cupcake wrappers in the pan. I will say that with all the redistribution this batter went through, there was barely enough to create the projected 24 treats. Next time, I think I would play it safe by making more batter.
I popped them in the oven and for once in my life … I didn’t burn them!
After they had plenty of time to cool off, Dan and I frosted them with white frosting while watching a bit of “American Psycho” – a patriotic classic to honor the holiday. Then, the candies were popped on top, with a few more adorning red and blue sprinkles … and we were ready to celebrate with sugar!
I think I may be ready for Cupcake Wars.