Blue velvet cupcakes

Ohai, cupcakes.

I’m kind of at a loss for words with these. Can you imagine how good they were by looking at the pictures? Because let me assure you… they were BETTER than whatever you’re thinking.

Kiddo and I wanted to do something lovely for our local police force because they are awesome. They always take the time to say hi to Kiddo and all the other kids when they’re cruising our neighborhood, they do all they can to help with the issue of our neighbor’s dog that will. not. quit. barking. ever. and they solved both lame crimes of which we’ve been a victim in the last year. They’re awesome. So what better for the boys in blue than blue velvet cupcakes?

I found this recipe at the incredible Sprinkle Bakes. Aren’t those great? She was SO helpful in helping me adapt the recipe to the food coloring I had to that perfect Cookie Monster shade of blue she showcases. It’s exactly what I wanted them to look like! She adapted her cupcake recipe from Paula Deen’s recipe; I adapted it with Sprinkle Bake’s help only to use all gel food coloring. The frosting is all Sprinkle Bakes.

A note on gel food coloring: this Wilton gel is what I used; I got mine at Joann, and I believe I’ve seen it at Michael’s as well. The ready to use gel icing for cookie and cake decorating (like this) is not the same thing, and will not get you the color you’re looking for.

Blue velvet cupcakes

Yield: I got 26 cupcakes out of this

Ingredients

For the cupcakes
    • 2 cups sugar
    • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
    • 1 Tbsp Wilton royal blue gel food coloring
    • 1 small dab of violet gel food coloring (I dipped in a toothpick and used that much)
    • 2 ½ cups cake flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 tablespoon vinegar
For the frosting
  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (I hate sifting; I whir it up in the food processor instead to aerate and get lumps out)

Instructions

Make the cupcakes
    1. Preheat your oven to 350 F and line cupcake pans with liners
    2. Cream sugar and butter in mixing bowl till light and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg
    3. Mix cocoa and food coloring together to make a paste — this took a while to mix thoroughly with all gel, but it came together nicely; add this paste to sugar mixture and mix well again
    4. Sift (or buzz in food processor) flour and salt, and add to creamed mixture a bit at a time, alternating with buttermilk, then mix in vanilla
    5. Combine baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl and add to cake batter; mix just to combine
    6. Scoop thick batter into cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for probably 25-30 minutes, but start checking at 20 — mine were done at about the 22/23 minute mark; watch for toothpick inserted in center to come out clean
    7. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow cool completely on a wire rack
Now make frosting!
  1. Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla with electric mixer until nice and smooth

Frosting time! I use a giant star tip from Bake it Pretty, or The Place I Could Spend All My Monies (and the stardust). I dusted on a little edible blue glitter on top because hey, why not.

Strawberry layer cake

Yesterday was the first birthday of One Particular Kitchen! Yay! So I did what anyone would do: I made a cake. My mother made this cake for my birthday a few times and it was always spectacular and pink and fluffy. I was am the kind of little girl who thinks there can never be too much pink, and this cake was just the prettiest, most precious thing my birthday-girl self could dream up while I was running around in Gunne Sax dresses (which were, of course, pink).

Did I mention I make this in my pink Kitchenaid mixer?

I have a copy of this recipe, officially called Strawberry Layer Dessert, that came out of my mother’s cookbook, and I’m afraid I’m not sure which one it was; likely early versions of the Better Homes and Gardens or Betty Crocker picture books, but it’s nowhere to be seen in either one of those books I have on my shelf.

This one involves some downtime between steps, so be sure to allow yourself time to get everything done.

Strawberry layer cake

Ingredients

  • Two 10-ounce packages frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
  • Two 3-ounce packages strawberry-flavored gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • One 10-inch angel food cake

Instructions

  1. Drain strawberries, reserving 1 cup syrup (see note below)
  2. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water, add reserved strawberry syrup, then chill mixture till partially set
  3. Beat mixture using whisk attachment of stand mixer until light and fluffy — this took quite a few minutes for me till it was lighter pink and fluffed up nicely
  4. Fold in whipped cream and chill another 30 minutes or so till the mix is thickened up again
  5. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of mixture to a separate bowl and fold in strained strawberries
  6. Split angel food cake into three layers, and use the smaller bowl of mixture with the strawberries to fill between layers, then frost top and sides of cake with remaining mixture. Garnish with fresh strawberries if you have them on hand

Notes

I ended up with frozen whole strawberries that did not have syrup, so I put them in a bowl with some sugar while they thawed, which produced some lovely syrup. Instead of slicing I just broke them up a little with a fork before folding into the whipped cream mixture and they were lovely!

Sandy’s chocolate cake

You know how it goes: you remember a food as being life-alteringly good.  You build it up and build it up in your mind till you just can’t stand it anymore. You hunt and track down the recipe and make it… only to find that it’s just not as great as you remember.

That was not the experience I had with this cake. Not even close!

Ten years ago (!!!) my dear friend Sandy made this cake for me and I have remembered it ever since then as kind of being the be-all, end-all of chocolate cakes. It was moist and chocolately and amazing and delicious and worth every single calorie in it (are we still counting those?). I finally got the recipe from her and made my own this week. It is everything I remembered and more.

The Kiddo’s babysitter left for college recently (the nerve!) and we wanted to send her something sweet from home, so I made mini loaf cakes rather than the original Bundt form in the name of easier mailing. I’m happy to report it worked just fine.

You will need (you will die at how easy this is):

  • One box yellow cake mix — not the kind with pudding in the mix
  • One box instant chocolate pudding (3 3/4 oz)
  • One box instant vanilla pudding (3 3/4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Do you see what I’m saying? Something that tastes this good should surely involve more effort.

Sandy’s directions:

  1. Grease and flour a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan; in my case I used three mini loaf pans (8x3x2)
  2. Combine cake mix, pudding mixes, oil, eggs, and water and beat 2-4 minutes at medium speed till everything looks smooth
  3. Stir in chocolate chips
  4. Bake in prepared pan(s) for 50-60 minutes at 325 degrees (the mini loaf pans took about 45 minutes) till a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.

The beauty of this cake is that it keeps getting better — it’s even more incredible the second day and so on, so it’s perfect for mailing.

Go make this now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Make the cake. You will not be sorry.