Happy Valentine's Day to all of you out there. I say this to be polite. I have trid and tried, but I think I'm so over the whole Valentine's day thing. However, the little-uns remind me to get in the spirit. For me, that translates into making cutesy cupcakes and sugar cookies. This I like.
Here is a very simple, yet absolutely delicious cupcake and frosting recipe. This is my go-to recipe for a basic Vanilla cupcake. If you feel like it, add in some orange zest or lemon zest. I baked some up tonight for my son's school party. I am not expecting any leftovers after the party.
Oh! And here are the adorable valentine cards my 2nd grader made for his classmates and friends. I love this kid - no super heroes or sports cards for this one. Aren't they precious? Thank you to the nice parent who posted these homemade Valentine card ideas on the web.
Makes 12 - 14 (can be doubled, and I usually do)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup milk (lowfat is fine)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Mix till light and creamy. Add the milk and the vanilla, and mix for another 30 seconds.
4. Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed till the mixture is smooth and shiny, approx. 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix by hand gently to incporporate well. You do not want to overmix, otherwise the texture will suffer.
5. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Do not overfill the cups, or the cupcakes will overflow and make a huge crown. Still tasty, but not so pretty especially if you want to frost them. I like to use a 2oz ice-cream scoop to make this job easy.
6. Bake until the cupcakes are pale golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approx. 18 - 24 minutes depending on your oven.
7. Cool the cupcakes in the muffin tin for a few minutes. Use a paring knife to lift the cupcakes out of the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.
8. Eat as is, frost using the recipe below, or use your favorite frosting recipe.
Faux (easy) Vanilla buttercream recipe
Makes enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes
I borrowed (and adapted) this recipe from the internet where it is published in many places as the Magnolia Bakery (NYC) buttercream recipe. I do not know if this is accurate. I have not been to Magnolia Bakery and don't know if this is indeed their recipe. But I sure do like it -- well, after a few tweaks. I think I now have it down the way I like it. It is super easy and foolproof. Also, it is a cross between a cookie icing and a buttercream - intensely sweet, but not too rich. Seems to be a huge hit everytime.
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened (but still cold)
4 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar (plus 1 extra cup on hand)
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Add the butter and 4 cups confectioner's sugar to the bowl of a mixer. Add the milk and the vanilla.
2. Mix on low speed to incorporate. Then increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and creamy. The frosting should be light in texture. If it is too wet, add a little more sugar, beating well after each addition until the frosting is a good spreading consistency.
Note: If your kitchen is too warm, the icing will look like it is curdling and separating. If so, just chill for a bit and then beat it again. You can store this in the refrigerator for a few days, but bring to room temperature an hour before using.