Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary!

Mindy here. Last week I shared that we'd celebrated my daughter's birthday with pizzas on the grill. Of course, that wasn't all we had. After all, a birthday isn't a birthday without the birthday person's cake/dessert of choice. In this case, she likes chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. She also adores cupcakes. So I decided to go the cupcake route and spruce things up just a bit.

First I made their favorite chocolate cake--Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake. Easy peasy. Since she was having friends over, I made two batches, all in cupcake form.

Now I knew my boys would not eat the cupcakes with buttercream frosting. They only like 'em with Duncan Hines Classic Chocolate Frosting. And heaven forbid I should veer from that course. I made one of them this luscious chocolate cake one time. It had ganache that was to-die-for. He said it was okay, but he really wanted just the regular, my usual, chocolate cake. Like I've said before, they have no taste.

Of course, when we're talking buttercream icing, it has to be homemade.

Here's my recipe:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • A few drops of food coloring (optional)
Place butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. Add food coloring, if desired, and mix thoroughly. Miss's favorite color is aqua, so that was my color of choice.

 I put as much as I can into a pastry bag with a large star tip (D2 or 2D, something like that). Twist the end closed and pipe/swirl the frosting around the top of the cupcakes. Trust me, this is easy. Then I did the same with a can of chocolate frosting. Aqua and brown are such hot colors right now, so it all worked together.

But they were too pretty just put on a plate. Instead, I got two cake pedestals of different sizes (you could use more) and set the cupcakes on those, alternating the colors.

And what a pretty centerpiece it made.

That is, until my grandpup decided to sample them.
The brat. Apparently she likes buttercream frosting too.
Lucky for her, I had plenty of extras.

How do you take the ordinary and make it extraordinary? And it doesn't have to be just food.

Later, y'all.


  1. love the look of the cakes. reminds me of a sponge mum made for a meeting. it wasn't a grand pup that helped it was our cat, Meggs was so bad when it came food. he swiped the cream on top a couple of times. Mum scrapped the layer of cream of took the top bit of sponge of and threw it out and then recreamed it and I took it to bible study that night. Meggs was bad he did this to more than one cake just out the oven too.
    We make a similar icing here only leave out the butter. we put a bit of boiling water on the butter to soften it and mix it with the icing sugar (thats what we call it) and vanilla and colouring. Tastes really nice too. for Chocolate we add a little cocoa powder.

    1. I used to have to worry about little hands getting into the frosting. Never imagined I'd now have to worry about little tongues. I found it interesting that she only went for the frosting, though, and left the cake untouched. The little stinker.

  2. This is so funny! I made swirl-topped cupcakes for our weekend family barbecue and the cat ate the frosting off three...

    And we let her live!!! ;)

    Mindy, I love that brown is getting the honor it deserves after all this time! I love browns... Pairing them with pink and aqua?

    Lovely! Great job, Mom and boys are dorks.

    Example One: My boys like Dream Pie (made with Dream Whip and instant pudding) more than real chocolate cream pie.


    Example Two: My husband was eating Hamburger Helper one night, sighed and said: "This is the best thing you make."

    I do not to this day know why we're still married after all the time-consuming AMAZING meals I've cooked...

    a stupid box of Hamburger Helper was all I needed to have on hand, I guess.

    Oy. Men. Boys. Ugh.

    1. Ruthy, what are we going to do with these men of ours? You're right, they are dorks.

      Men and pets...I guess life would be boring without them.

  3. I have to ask I have heard of hamburger helper but I have no idea what it is.
    I also am not sure what dream whip is guess I need to go google.

    1. Jenny, Hamburger Helper is a box with a bag of pasta, usually noodles, and a seasoning packet. You add them to browned ground beef, along with some water and milk and you have a meal. Well, sort of. My oldest boy loves the stroganoff version.

      Dream Whip is a packet of powder you add milk to to make a whipped topping. Nothing special.

  4. Howling with laughter here over the final picture! Maybe the grandpup likes aqua too. Enjoying the other pet faux pas as well. I had a cat who used to hurdle himself into peas. No plate was safe from Wuggens.

    Hey Jenny, we call it icing sugar here too. Not sure if I can give you an explanation of hamburger helper since I'm a vegetarian but Dream Whip is a chemical blend whipped up to resemble whipped cream but doesn't taste nearly as good. It tastes like...well chemicals!!! It keeps it's shape though...doesn't unfluff, if you know what I mean. The only time I've used it in a recipe is with crushed up crispy crunch bars as a topping for cake. Yum.

    1. Uh, Kav...I think you need to share that crispy crunch bar recipe. Like you said, yum :-)

    2. Okay -- it's really hard. You take one tub of Dream Whip (or one packet and mix it up) and then you pound the living daylights out of about four or five crispy crunch bars. Okay maybe six if you're really greedy. I use a rolling pin while my dog cowers under the bed. Then you add the smooshed bits to the Dream Whip (in a bowl) and stir it all together. Then cover your cake -- great on an Angel Food Cake, by the way. Then let it sit in the fridge for about an hour so the crispy crunchiness flavour oozes into the Dream Whip and voila! Delightfully light dessert for a summer day!!! And really easy! And no bake if you buy the Angel Food Cake!

  5. Oh, Mindy, how funny!!! I would have wanted to strangle the dog!! LOL

    Those are gorgeous cupcakes!! I'm such a slacker. I've never tired piping the frosting. Will have to remedy that!

  6. Gorgeous cupcakes! I may have to invest in a frosting bag...or whatever you call them.

    I've heard they're also great for squeezing the filling into manicotti.

    So, how do I make the ordinary extraordinary? A new setting does it every time. One downside of moving a lot is that you never get to establish traditions - but the upside is that every birthday celebration and every holiday is a new experience!

    Although, I'm looking forward to establishing traditions...ordinary sounds just fine to me :)

    And I have a dog/cake story: My sister-in-law had a German Shepherd named Sadie. The sweetest dog in the world. Never misbehaved, never barked at strangers, the perfect dog.

    When my youngest SIL was graduating from high school, my in-laws bought (yes, BOUGHT!) a fancy cake for the open house and then went to the commencement ceremonies. On the way out the door my MIL looked at the cake on the table and said, "Do you think we should put it somewhere else?" And SIL Mary said, "Oh no, Sadie won't bother it. She never eats food off the table."

    Famous last words.

    There is a saying we often use around our house, "Never trust a dog to watch your lunch."