Turning 27: cupcakes, candles and cunning

When I. sent out the word that he was throwing M. a surprise party to celebrate her turning 27, I was quick to volunteer my baking services.

“Based on the final guest count, I think we’ll need about 3 dozen,” he told me. Three dozen birthday cupcakes, that is. But what flavour? After much deliberation and some consultation, I finally settled on three kinds and carefully tallied the ingredients I’d need on a grocery list. (Of course, I promptly changed my mind again in the grocery store and ended up crossing my fingers and going by memory anyways.)

Having previously made some chocolate on chocolate cupcakes for M., which she enjoyed, and recognizing that chocolate is always a crowd-pleaser, the Double Fudge Chocolate Cupcake was a no-brainer. A light but fudgy chocolate cupcake (the product of a combination of melted unsweetened chocolate and cocoa) with a rich substantial chocolate frosting. The crowd favourite once again if the cupcake wrappers were any indication.

Next up was a Vanilla Cupcake with Orange Coconut Frosting. A dense, but otherwise innocuous, vanilla cupcake made interesting with a zesty orange frosting and dipped in coconut for good looks. While this was my personal favourite, it seemed to be the least popular with the group.

The third and final choice (not pictured) was a Pumpkin Ginger Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting. A welcome-to-fall cupcake that tastes a lot like pumpkin loaf, but much lighter and with the added bonus of crystallized ginger bits and whipped cream cheese goodness. A bit of a risky choice, perhaps, but it seemed to go over well. What can I say, M’s friends have good taste!

Source: Most of my cupcake recipes come from a great little book entitled Cupcakes by Elinor Klivans, which was a wedding shower gift from a good friend. In addition to providing basic recipes for chocolate and yellow cupcakes and simple buttercream icings, the book also includes more advanced recipes for batters, fillings and frostings with lots of mouth-watering pictures. This time, however, I used a chocolate cupcake and frosting recipe from Bonnie Stern’s Essentials of Home Cooking. For the future, I think the ultimate combination would be Bonnie Stern’s chocolate cupcake recipe with Elinor Klivan’s chocolate buttercream frosting, which is light and fluffy and heart attack-inducing all at the same time.

I also recently came across a fantastic blog called Cupcake Bakeshop that features an unbelievable range of cupcake recipes that I can’t wait to try.