Last weekend a good friend of ours was celebrating a big birthday and in order to help her ring in the occasion a few of her close friends, lead by her boyfriend, teamed up to plan the details for a memorable bash. The efforts to plan the event began back in February and left no stone unturned to ensure a memorable event. When asked how I would like to participate in my own meaningful way, I immediately knew the perfect way to celebrate the birthday girl's event -- I'll bring the cupcakes! 

Baking and decorating cupcakes is a true passion of mine. In fact, I think I might enjoy making them more than I enjoy eating them! Most of the time I keep it simple, dressing up a recipe using boxed cake mixes. But boxed cake mix and canned frosting wouldn't cut it for this elegant and memorable affair for 50.

While my contribution was a relatively small part of the event, I knew I wanted to do my best to make it a real show stopper. With a theme of red and white check to follow, I took to searching Pinterest for inspiration. A few months back I pinned a recipe for beautiful vanilla cupcakes, made more special with a vanilla and cherry twist. Not only did they sound delicious, but the look and flavor would work well with the red and white theme that had been selected.

With the recipe in hand, as well as several borrowed cupcake tins from very accommodating neighbors (50 is a lot of cupcakes!), I got to work for a whole lot of baking on the morning of the party. If you'd like to give this a whirl, here's a step by step on making your own pink and delicious cupcakes.

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 24 maraschino cherries with stems

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

I kicked off the baking event as it seems most good baking recipes tend to start out and I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. 

Next, in a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Once the dry ingredients were adequately combined, I was able to get to the good stuff.

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine buttermilk and cherry juice until mixture resembles the unappetizing color of Pepto Bismal. Don't panic. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the very room temperature butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. It's very, very important that the butter and eggs have been allowed to acclimate to room temperature without the microwave. Trust me on this. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extract to the butter until fully mixed.

Also, be sure to take care when measuring the sugar, or your countertops could look like this.

Once the mixture is fully combined it will have achieved a sandy play-doh look to it. Again, don't worry, it's on the right track.

Next up, add the egg whites to the sandy play-doh mixture very slowly, beating well after each egg white is added. 

When all of your egg whites are fully combined, slowly add flour mixture and buttermilk Pepto looking substance, alternating between each ingredient a little at a time until they're all added. Continue to mix on low speed until the mixture is combined and begins to smooth out.

After the mixture is fully mixed and looking nice and smooth, your cake batter mix is ready to go. It should be a soft pink color that is actually leaning more towards true pink. Alex also wanted me to let you all know that it tastes pretty good at this stage too. 

Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper bake cups. Tip: To ensure my decorative wrappers kept their crisp color, I baked the cupcakes in plain white cups, and just before the party I nestle the baked cakes in the decorative wrappers.

Next up spoon the pretty pink batter into muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Tip: Using an ice cream scoop makes filling the cups evenly a snap.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes in your 350 degree pre-heated oven, or until top springs back when lightly touched. 

When the baking is complete remove the cupcake tins and allow the muffins to cool completely. While muffins cool, start on frosting. 

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter (again, very room temperature) with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup of the powdered sugar, beating well as you add. Slowly beat in the cherry juice and almond extract. While I was adding the juice it began burping a bit, so watch out for the mess that is surely lurking. Slowly continue to add in additional powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in additional cherry juice or leftover buttermilk, one teaspoon at a time, to thin the frosting to the desired consistency. You should be left with a smooth and even mixture that looks a little like taffy.

For a "store bought" look, use a pastry bag and a decorator's tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. 

I like to use disposable pastry bags and Wilton tips. This is a little something I splurged on years ago, and I've never looked back. If you like to decorate cakes or cupcakes, it's definitely worth it to pick up a set.

If you don't have these supplies on hand, a great substitution is to spoon frosting into a large food storage bag. Snip one of the corners off the bag with scissors, and squeeze frosting through the hole.

As a final touch, adorn the top of each cupcake with one maraschino cherry.

All in all, the cupcakes were a huge hit. When arranged on stacked white cake pedestals, they made quite a statement.

Not only were they beautiful, but they were delicious. All in all the party was a huge success, and I'm so thrilled my small contribution could be part of a fun and memorable event for a friend. 

Next up? A big baby shower celebration at our house. Does anyone have any cupcake recipes they can share, or ideas for the menu and decor? It's been years since I've thrown a baby shower, and am always looking for creative ideas to make the occasion one to remember.


Comments 4

Comments

5/16/2013 at 11:35 AM
These look AMAZING. You are killing me.
Wendy
5/27/2013
Haha! Thanks Jesika! You should have seen my raspberry filled vanilla bean cupcakes this weekend. They were heaven!
Pamela G.
5/25/2013 at 6:34 AM
I agree. They do look amazing. Very professional looking. Have you thought about baking cupcakes as a side business? I really like the tip about the liners. That way the pretty ones stay fresh and presentation is nice. Good job!
Wendy
5/27/2013
Thank you so much, Pamela! I haven't thought about doing it as a side business, but that's a great idea. Until then, I'll continue to make them as gifts for friends and family for special occasions. I've really been enjoying being more creative with the flavors, filling, etc. So fun!
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