Ladybug Cupcakes for the Baby Shower that wasn’t.

January 23, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Posted in cupcakes | 30 Comments
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I’m kinda sort of a twitter whore.

So if you follow me on twitter you’ll recognize the above iPhone picture. These past few days have been filled with fondant, ladybugs and babies. (Not necessarily in that order.) Hey why are you looking at me like that? Kinda like you wanna say “Aaawww” while staring at my belly? Oh no! It’s not what you think. I’m not having babies. (Sorry Mom.)

My SIL is preggers with TWIN girls. And guess who got nominated to bake the baby shower cupcakes? ME ME ME! So I’ve been a busy bee, baking cupcakes and making fondant ladybugs for her ladybug themed baby shower. Which was today.

But then I got the phone call. Yes, THE call. This morning around 10am. My SIL was at the hospital. Her water broke. What are the odds! On the day of her baby shower. So you can imagine it was a mad scramble to try to call guests but since the trip to the hospital was unexpected and SIL hadn’t left us (me and co-hostesses) almost any contact info, we decided the easiest way would be to tell guests as they arrived for the baby shower. Somebody’s gotta eat these 50 cupcakes right?

*nervous laugh*

Forgive me. I tend to crack jokes at inopportune times when I’m anxious. The whole family is feeling a wide range of emotions right now. My husband, who’s usually Mr. Calm (or is it Cool?) As A Cucumber, is currently pacing the room as I’m typing this post. He paces. I blog. We’re all waiting to hear news. Any news. Last we heard she was in the hospital and the neonatalogist recommended trying to prolong a C-section for 48 hours to build up the twins lung development. Scary sh!t right?

So here’s what I’m gonna do.

I’m gonna write about my experience and tips to making these Martha Stewart ladybug cupcakes and you’re gonna let me babble b/c that’s what I do when I’m anxious and worried and nervous and anxious (Did I say that already?). Deal?

Now get comfy. Let’s begin.

Tip #1: Your grass is not gonna be as perky as Martha’s. Personally I thought my grass was way more natural with some straight and some that curled over every which way. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Tip #2: Martha says to use Wilton tip #233 to pipe the grass but I have both #233 and #234 and after debating on using the one with the smaller holes (#233) per Martha’s recommendations or the one with the bigger holes (#234), I chose the bigger holes. Because size does matter. (Am I the only immature person laughing after reading this paragraph? Hmmm… Thought so.) Obviously Martha disagrees, but I felt that the bigger holes made it easier for everything to come out and control. (Yes, I’m still laughing.)

Tip #3: But if you really want to strive to have the grass as perky as Martha’s, you could try to put your piping bag+tip+frosting in the frig to make the buttercream stiffer. I tried this and it did work for about 10 secs but I was too impatient to do this after every “blade” of grass and my biceps are weak sauce and couldn’t handle the pressure (literally and figuratively) of piping really stiff frosting. Damn my warm hands! Great in a snowstorm. Not piping frosting.

Tip #4: I made my ladybugs out of fondant. Martha made hers out of marzipan. Now I’ve never worked with marzipan but I assume it doesn’t become a wet sticky mess when you put it in the frig like fondant and that’s why she recommends using it since her instructions want you to chill the cupcake to let the grass set. But I used fondant and didn’t chill my cupcakes.

Tip #5: Martha says to pipe the grass from the center out but I thought it was easier to start on the perimeter and work my way in. I also overlapped grass too. You say center I say perimeter. It’s your personal choice.

Tip #6: Don’t ask me how Martha got her grass so dark green. I used like 10 drops of Ateco food gel and my grass was a bright green but no dark green. If you figure out how many drops it took… Come back and tell me. I’d really like to know.

Tip #7: Unless you’re a glutton for punishment. Buy the red and black fondant from a cake supply store or Michaels. True black and red are SO hard to do without the proper equipment (aka muscles) and A LOT of food gel. I’m very lucky that my cake store has fondant in every color in big buckets or in smaller quantities for all your fondant needs. If you are in the Southern California area, check out ABC Cakes in Orange or Calico Cake Shop in Buena Park.

Tip #8: Because *I AM* a glutton for punishment, I pinched off little itty bitty teeny weeny pieces of fondant to make every damn spot on each ladybug’s back. You wanna go easier? Use a black food safe pen or black food gel and back of a small paintbrush to dot a perfect circle every time.

Tip #9: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Even though I noticed that some ladybugs weren’t the same size. Some ladybugs had spots that were unbalanced. Some “grass” had bald spots. Some ladybugs had cracks in them. (Oh… Have we met? My name is Neurotic.) But did anyone notice? Nope. All I got were raves and … “You made those cupcakes? Even the ladybugs?” Yes, yes I did. And took all the credit. Martha? Martha who?

Tip #10: Actually I only came up with 9 tips but I just felt like there should be 10. It’s either 5 or 10. Anything in between just looks weird.

So there you go. It’s not hard and the results will bring you lots of wooos and aawwws. Just takes time and patience. And I won’t lie. By the time you make your 5th ladybug you’ll wanna stab yourself in the eye with a jagged sprinkle. But ask me if I’d do it again? Yes yes I would. In fact I am. For a birthday party next month.

Please keep my BIL, SIL and nieces in your thoughts and prayers. They haven’t left my mind and heart all day. I’m not what I’d call a religious person but I do believe in the power of positive thinking.

“Good night and good luck.” ~Edward R. Murrow

Iron Cupcake #4: [Summer Berries]

June 22, 2009 at 10:24 PM | Posted in cupcakes, Iron Cupcake | 71 Comments
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Ah Iron Cupcake. How I heart thee.

I’m not sure if you know this about me but I’m kind of a cupcake event freak addict. I know I know. I hide it well. But when I find one I get a little giddy. I think it’s because I find a lot (See Nikki? 2 words!) of inspiration from themes that someone else chose for me. Don’t ask me why but ideas seem to flow more freely after I have the theme figured out. I know. I’m wackadoo.

This month’s theme is summer berries and here in California the sweet strawberry goodness is abundant. I’m buying strawberries by the case every week from Costco. You can often find Hubs hulling strawberries by the bowlful for an after dinner treat. He even offered to help hull the strawberries for this recipe without me even asking. It’s pretty darn cute how much he loves his Oxo strawberry huller. So I knew as soon as I saw the theme I would be using strawberries.

But finding the right time to bake seems harder in the summer for a couple reasons:
(1) I become a lazy baker in the summer
(2) It’s harder to find ppl to give away my goodies during bikini/diet season.

Thankfully Father’s Day gave me a perfect opportunity to bake. *fist pump*

Now I know what you’re thinking… What’s up with the pirate theme, CB? *shrug* What can I say? I’m a sucker for cornball names and themes. And flowers and ladybugs didn’t seem very manly for a Father’s Day cupcake. Arrrgh matey? (That’s pirate talk for “Ok friend?”.) No more questions or you’ll be walking the plank.

Happy (belated) Father’s day to all the dads out there.

Thanks to IC’s sponsors this month–
*A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by INSANEJELLYFISH, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5021935
*A groovy linocut piece from BLOCKHEAD PRESS http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6108705
*A sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Cupcakery, http://www.acupcakery.com/
*A sweet artist piece CAKESPY, http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5243382
*HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, http://www.fiestaproducts.com
*HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, http://blog.hellocupcakebook.com
*JESSIE STEELE APRONS http://www.jessiesteele.com
*TASTE OF HOME books, http://www.tasteofhome.com
*A t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM http://www.upwithcupcakes.com/
* 1-800-Flowers, http://www.1800flowers.com


Straw-Berried Treasure Cupcakes <– Get it? I crack myself up!
Recipe adapted from Cupcakes by Martha Stewart & 4 Ingredient Cookbook

Print this recipe

Makes about 18 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

For one-bowl chocolate cupcakes
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder (I used E. Guittard unsweetened red dutch process cocoa)
1-1/2 sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

18 strawberries, wash, pat dry and tops removed

For marshmallow cream cheese frosting
2 jars (7oz each) marshmallow creme
2-8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel cheese)

brown sugar, garnish

To make cupcakes—
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking power and salt. Reduce speed to low and add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract and water.

Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full. Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting—
In a stand mixer, fitted with a flat beater, combine marshmallow creme and cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy.

To assemble cupcakes—
Remove the center of the cupcake using the cone method. (I used a 1.5″ cookie cutter as a guideline.) Insert strawberry into the cupcake. Using a Magic Tip 7ST tip (or your favorite star tip) pipe the frosting on the cupcake. Garnish with some brown sugar on top. (Don’t skip the brown sugar. Trust me.)


ENJOY!

Husband rating: A+
I always know when he likes a cupcake recipe when he eats more than 1 without me asking if he wants another one. He’s a cream cheese frosting purist but said that the marshmallow creme added a yummy combination.

Wifey rating: A+
This chocolate “cake” was so easy and fast to make. That Martha is a genius! Definitely bumped my current go-to recipe off the list. I love the chocolate, strawberry and marshmallow+cream cheese frosting combination. The sprinkle of brown sugar on top made for a perfect sweet crunchy bite!

Other rating: A+
I brought the cupcakes over for a family Father’s day party and T’s dad raved that this was the best cupcake I’ve baked so far! (And trust me. He’s eaten ALOT of my cupcakes!)

Martha. Martha. Martha

September 23, 2008 at 10:26 AM | Posted in non-cupcake, random | 9 Comments
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(^ Say it like Jan Brady does. Thats how I say it in my head. LOL)

No, I am not talking about Martha/Marcia Brady. I am talking about THE Martha.


(image credit: The Martha Blog – it changes colors! I am easily amused today.)

Last week she had a whole show dedicated to blogging.

(I was invited to be in the audience but NYC is an expensive plane ticket away. I was so bummed but I stayed at home in my PJs watching my tv, hanging onto every word.)

See people? This is why she’s successful. She knows that blogging isn’t just a passing fancy. Bloggers today have some incredible power and she wants in! She’s embracing her inner blogger. Expanding her domestic empire. I don’t blame her. If I could make Perez Hilton money blogging, I’d jump at the chance! Wouldn’t you?

Why am I talking about Martha? Well… She wants to get to know more bloggers like you and me so go leave her a comment on her blog and link back to her blog on your blog. (You can see my comment about 50 comments down.) Who knows? You may end up in Martha’s Circle like Perez Hilton, Smitten Kitchen, Cute Overload, Matt Bites etc etc.

I imagine thats like being Oprah approved.

PS- Thanks to all for helping me choose between sprinkles and santa. I have a cupcake order due this Friday but after that I plan to have some fun with green sprinkles. Stay tuned.

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