Usually my cooking and baking is all about taste – if it happens to look good too, well that is a bonus. Two times a year though everything changes. It is all about the appearance – if it happens to taste good, well that is a bonus.
My daughters are allowed to pick out whatever they want for their birthdays. We have plenty of kids cookbooks in the house – as well as cookbooks that focus on cupcakes or cakes – so pretty much they have their birthday treats picked out well in advance. As soon as their birthday is over, they start planning for the next. In fact, I believe my older daughter already has her cake picked out for her birthday that is two years away.
These cupcakes were a last-minute surprise – ok, not completely last-minute, but a month before the party – the pink Princesses turned into Doodle Bugs (from the book “Kids Cake Mix Fun and more”). I was thrilled – I was getting tired of the pink and purple icing with all the girly toppings. The big question a couple days before the party was – vanilla or chocolate? She chose vanilla – so I was off to find a recipe that would be easy, but actually taste delicious – without succumbing to the box mix, which I have to admit I have done in the past. I found a wonderful recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes on the blog SugarCooking – which I only changed slightly. The recipe actually was adapted from “Baking: From my Home to Yours” – by Dorie Greenspan. The frosting, well I used my favorite Cream Cheese Frosting, and they made a perfect pair.
- 2 ¼ cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (8-ounce) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
- 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- Food coloring
- Thin licorice ropes, cut into 3 inch strips
- Round candy coated chocolates (or skittles would work)
- Candy coated chocolate covered sunflower seeds
Makes 20 cupcakes
Center a rack in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Beat together the butter and sugar at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one-third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and will aerated.
Fill each cupcake 3/4 full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch- a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool.
To prepare the frosting, combine 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until well combined.
Divide the frosting into 4 bowls. Use the food coloring to create different colored frosting of your choice, then mix well. Frost the cupcakes once completely cooled.
Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to make three small holes on opposite sides of each cupcake. Insert licorice piece into each hole for the legs. Decorate the tops of cupcakes with the assorted candies.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here: Doodle Bug Cupcakes