Monday, July 11, 2011

Birthday Cupcakes

I made cupcakes on Friday evening for a cookout we were hosting on Saturday.  It happened to be the birthday of one of our guests, and even though that wasn't exactly the reason for the gathering, I thought it would be nice to make something celebratory and cake-like for dessert.

So I whipped up the Barefoot Contessa's coconut cupcakes, using mini cupcake pans.  The recipe says it makes 18 to 20 regular-size cupcakes.  But if you make mini ones somehow you end up with about 300.  Seriously, I did this once before, and I had mini cupcakes all over every surface of my kitchen.   And delicious cupcakes on every surface of one's kitchen is both good and bad, if you know what I mean.  So I decided to halve the recipe this time.

It wasn't until the cupcakes were out of the oven that I realized that I'd messed up, as I often do when I'm halving (or doubling or one-thirding) recipes.  I was supposed to put half the coconut in the batter and save half for sprinkling on top of the iced cupcakes.  But I put it all in the batter instead.

So the cupcakes were very coconut-y (but Mr. E swore they were delicious, all the same).  And without the coconut to sprinkle on top, they looked a little . . . plain.

Not awful, but not very "happy birthday" either.

This was my quick fix:

I cut out some strips of paper.

For this project I cut paper from a catalog, namely the Hancock's of Paducah quilt-fabric catalog.  I've never quilted anything in my life, but Hancock's has wonderful fabric, and their catalog is a colorful, pattern-y delight.  My craft punches get giddy with excitement when the Hancock's catalog arrives.

I folded the strips in half.

Then I smeared a little glue on one side of the inside, put a toothpick in the crease (I picked these toothpicks up at Safeway a while back), and smoothed out the whole business.

The relative flimsiness of the catalog paper is actually a good thing, as it helps the paper adhere to the toothpick. And when the glue dries, the flag feels quite sturdy.

I cut triangles out of the ends to make flag shapes.

It took me about 20 minutes to make a bunch of these.

On Saturday morning I just popped the toothpicks in the cupcakes before our guests arrived.

It was a fun and easy way to inject a little birthday spirit into our gathering.  I like the way the flags look a bit like birthday candles, but with an adult twist.  (If pink princess flags can be said to be "adult," that is.)

The one thing I wish I had done is snip the pointy tops off the toothpicks with kitchen shears, so they look more like flags and less like toothpicks.

Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me to do this until Sunday.  And by then there were considerably fewer cupcakes to photograph.  ;)

Linked to:
Weekend Bloggy Reading @ Serenity Now
Friday Faves @ Naptime Crafters 
Feature Yourself Friday @ Fingerprints on the Fridge 
Weekend Wrap-Up Party @ Tatertots and Jello


  1. SO VERY CUTE!!! What a great way to add excitment to cupcakes!!! Your comments at the end are so funny...sometimes I don't realize until I see a photo of a project that a little something could have been better.

  2. Way to improvise!! A coconut cupcake sure sounds delicious right now! Ina's recipe sounds really yummy. Does the coconut give the cake a weird texture or does it kind of dissolve during baking?

  3. These are adorable! GREAT idea to cut up the catalog! :) Michelle

  4. Very cute! I love how something so simple adds so much :)

  5. Thanks, everyone! Jenn, I don't think the coconut gives the cupcakes a funny texture. This isn't in the recipe, but one thing I do when I use the mini cupcake pans is give the coconut a *very* brief whirl in the food processor to chop it up a bit. Since the mini cupcakes are so tiny, it's nice not to have big long strings of coconut in them.

  6. Thanks - that is a great idea!! I can't wait to give these a try.

  7. What a fun idea! I've never tried her coconut cupcakes, but they've been in my "to try" binder forever! This makes me want to whip a batch up! And I have got to ask, because I have a huge crush on your cake platter; do you remember where you got it? I'd love to get one just like that! Thanks again for sharing!!

  8. The cake platter is from Potluck Studios:
    The one I used for the cupcakes is the medium size. I'm not sure whether they're still making them or not. I used to see them around a lot, but not so much any more. A couple of years ago they seemed to appear in every Martha Stewart photo shoot! :)

  9. I've made these cupcakes a million times, but never as minis. What a great idea!!! Do you remember how long you cooked them?

  10. Jennifer, thank you for reminding me of the other big difference when making mini cupcakes: shorter baking time! :)

    For this recipe I bake the minis for 15-17 minutes.