Monday, April 27, 2009


Hey Everyone!

Voting is open for the Iron Cupcake Competition this month! You can vote for up to three entries and it just so happens I made three cupcakes for this month's theme! So vote for one, two, or if you really love me, all three!
Click on the iron cupcake icon to the right ------------------------------>>>>>

Scroll down and I'm the last three entries on the right. Click them, hit vote and sit back!
Thanks so much for your support!

Oh yeah, and next month's theme is a SAVORY (think salty and spicy and not so sweet) cupcake, so if you have any requests, leave them here!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Iron Cupcake April: Soda POP!

Okay, I'm warning you now. I went a little nuts this month. There's just something about soda pop in a cupcake that gets me all giddy. I think I finally figured out that fizzy soda pop drinks remind me of how much fun I had as a kid and cupcakes do that same thing for me now, so put together, it's a very deadly combination. I had about seven different flavor combinations in mind, but finally settled on three. In fact, they were the first three I thought of when the ingredient was announced and so I went with my gut. I know they aren't super original flavors, but to me, they are the epitome of soda pop as a kid.

The very first one I thought of was a Shirley Temple cupcake. I KNEW I had to do this one.

For those of you who don't know what a Shirley Temple is (and I can't imagine there are very many of you) it's a virgin cocktail made with Seven Up, grenadine and maraschino cherries. I loved them as a child and always felt so special when I got to order one when we went out to eat. The fizzy pink drink and cherries with stems seriously just makes me happy. I've passed on my love of this drink to Sydney. She couldn't wait to taste these cupcakes! I give you fair warning: much like the kiddie cocktail it's fashioned after, these cupcakes are SWEET! However, I think its just right. When I bit into one, a wave of childhood memories came flooding back.

Shirley Temple Cupcake
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
About 4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. lemon lime soda (left out so it will get flat)
1/4 c. grenadine
30 maraschino cherries

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift flour and baking soda. Add to mixture alternately with lemon lime soda and grenadine. Add vanilla. Pour into cupcake liners. Place one maraschino cherry in the middle of each cupcake on top of the batter. and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Cherry will sink down during baking and be a nice little surprise at the bottom of each cupcake.

I topped the cupcake off with a maraschino cherry buttercream.

1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pureed maraschino cherries
2 TBS maraschino cherry juice

Whip butter. Add powdered sugar and cherry juice alternately. Mix in pureed cherries. Whip for 3 minutes and pipe onto cupcakes. Garnish with a maraschino cherry with stem.

Next to make it's soda cupcake debut in the Contessa kitchen was the Orange Creme Cupcake. I didn't really plan to do this one, but I just couldn't let it go. Finally, I just decided to go for it. Oh man, I'm so glad I did. These cupcakes are smooth and refreshing and light and taste just like a bottle of orange creme soda. These were by far the favorite of the Evil Genius.

Orange Creme Soda Cupcakes

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
About 4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 bottle of Boylan's Orange soda (my favorite)
1 TBS fresh orange zest

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift flour and baking soda. Add to mixture alternately with orange soda. Add vanilla. Pour into cupcake liners. and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Cool completely.

Now, at this point I was going to fill the cupcake with whipped cream and make a fancy glaze and all kinds of super neat-o cupcake magic. But, after tasting the cupcake at this point, I knew it would be a shame. It tasted so close to the soda, I wanted to keep it simple, so I made a very simple orange buttercream and topped the little masterpiece off with an orange candy slice.

1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 TBS orange zest
1 tsp vanilla

Whip butter. Add powdered sugar and orange juice alternately. Add zest and vanilla. Whip for 3 minutes and pipe onto cupcakes. Garnish with an orange candy.

These were by far, Vivie's favorite, particuarly the frosting....

Whatcha doin' there Vivie?

Finally, to round out this Soda Pop trifecta of awesomeness, I absolutely had to do a root beer float cupcake. My husband would never have forgiven me if i hadn't. I had a really hard time with this one. Mainly because I couldn't find root beer extract anywhere to save my life! Of course I waited too long to order in online and I had to come up with a new way to concentrate the root beer flavor down. I ended up deciding to just reduce a root beer down on the stove in a saucepan. This worked surprisingly well HOWEVER you need to use a root beer made with pure cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. I made that mistake buying my favorite root beer flavor, only to realize it just wasn't going to reduce down well. I ended up finding a terrific tasting and inexpensive root beer that's perfect for the recipe. Check out Hansen's Natural Creamy Root Beer. Next, I didn't want the topping to be heavy, I wanted it to be light and foamy like the top of a real float. I finally decided that the best way to achieve this for what I wanted was to make a whipped cream topping. I wanted it to have a nice smooth flavor, so I added a scraped vanilla bean to it. To give the cupcake an extra gooey root beer punch, I concocted a root beer pudding for the middle. I think this recipe will be even better if you add a tsp of root beer concentrate to the batter.

So, here's my take on the root beer float.

Root Beer Float Cupcake

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
About 4 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup of reduced root beer**

**To make the reduced root beer, empty about 5 or 6 cans of a cane juice based root beer into a sauce pan and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer root beer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the liquid is reduced by about 3/4.

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift flour and baking soda. Add to mixture alternately with reduced root beer. Pour into cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Cool completely.

At this point, time to make the filling. This is a very jelly like pudding and can easily be skipped. I just wanted to give it another texture and add a bit more root beer flavor.

Root Beer Pudding (I know it sounds weird, just go with it..)

2 cans root beer
3 TBS sugar
4 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup cream

Empty one can of root beer into small saucepan. Add sugar and boil together for about 10 minutes until liquid is reduced in half. Open other can of root beer. Use about 1/4 of it to mix with cornstarch in separate bowl. Reduce heat on saucepan and add butter. When butter is melted, pour in cornstarch/root beer mixture while wisking at the same time. Continue whisking. It will become very thick like taffy. Alternate adding cream and remaning root beer while whisking until a good piping consisitency is reached. Cool. Using a filler tip, pipe INTO cupcakes. In case you are wondering, THIS is what a filling tip looks like.

Now, I just want to stop really quick here and point something out. You may have noticed that every single one of my cupcakes for this month start with the same batter basics. It's a very simple vanilla cupcake recipe. They have just each been tweaked to accomodate the flavors I am trying to create. I just wanted to point this out because I have had a lot of friends ask how I come up with recipes. I usually just explain that it's all give and take. If you have a basic set of parameters, then you can experiment within those. For example, every cake needs to have certain properties, flour, sugar, eggs, butter, liquid, a rising agent... but within those I can try something new. In this instance, because we are dealing with soda pop, I have mainly substituted the liquids. Now, this doesn't work every time, but a lot of times it will. So, when you look at a recipe, start dicsecting it and figuring out what could possibly be exchanged. That's an easy way to start experimenting with baking and trying something new!

I digress... On to my topping.

Whipped Cream Vanilla Bean Frosting

1 c. Heavy Cream (the good stuff!)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 c. butter
1 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend cream, vanilla bean and cornstarch in small saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until thickened. Remove vanilla bean. Chill thoroughly. Cream butterand sugar in a chilled bowl. Beat in chilled paste and vanilla. Beat at high speed until mixture resembles whipped cream.

Top the cupcakes with a big dollop of whipped cream and you're set!

There you go, my three takes on the soda pop cupcake. I hope you like them. Once again, I would love if you voted for me. You can vote for up to three entries at a time, so vote for all three of mine, or if you're not a fan of all of them, vote for the one you like the best and then check out the other entries and share the love. The voting opens on April 29th and runs through May 4th. I'll make sure to remind you all when the voting opens!

Just a reminder, here's the awesome list of prizes I'm competing for:

Our April ETSY PRIZE-PACK is from artists:
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS,, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,, JESSIE STEELE APRONS; TASTE OF HOME books,; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, .

Don't forget, she REALLY wants mommy to win...

More signs of an Evil Genius

For those of you who do not know, my daughter is an evil genius. No, she really is. We call her the Evil Genius. My friends call her the Evil Genius. People who aren't even really my friends but know her for some reason call her the Evil Genius. If you are still not convinced, refer to my original Evil Genius post. Recently a few more personality characteristics have come to light only showing how much evilish geniusing is really going on.

  • Apparently at nursery, her favorite game to play is "hide behind the play kitchen and wait patiently for another child to come up to it and then push it over on them and laugh really hard." This game is only made worse by the fact that she is quite literally the size of a large peanut and can easily fool other children because they can't even see her behind the large toy.
  • She loves to hide things from her loved ones. Once she hid a very small key to a music box I had given my mother and after we searched the entire house for it and said "Where's the key Vivie?" she immediately laughed, ran away and then magically appeared back in the kitchen again with they key in hand 30 seconds later. We still have zero clue as to where she stashed the key for an hour.
  • This child is freakishly good at hide and seek. Particularly the hiding part. She finds places in this house I never knew someone could hide she can hold still and be silent while hiding like no normal two year old should be able to. I am convinced she is training herself now for all the times she will need to go on the lamb doing all of her evil genius deeds.
  • I am currently in a conundrum as to what to do this Friday night. You see, I'm SUPPOSED to go out with all of my girlfriends to this great Italian restaurant down the street, but I'm terrified of showing my face there because two nights ago we were at the very same restaurant and Vivie (knowing full well I was wearing my wedge sandals and could not chase her like a gazelle) RAN STRAIGHT INTO THE KITCHEN and of course LAUGHED REALLY LOUD and of course WOULDN'T COME OUT. They told me if she did it again they'd put her to work, but I'm pretty sure they meant if she did it again, we'd be asked to leave. Hence you see my problem. Evil geniuses love to put people in uncomfortable situations.
  • Finally, this evening while saying her goodnight prayers, she mentioned her big sister. Now this may seem non evil geniusy and very sweet but NOT IF YOU ARE PRAYING THAT YOUR BIG SISTER GETS IN BIG TROUBLE. Yes, you read that right. In the middle of prayer (in between asking for world domination and secret lairs of course) my darling sweet two year old asked "please bless Sydney get big trouble."

Seriously people, we have a problem.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A letter of apology

Dear Coconut,

I'm sorry for all of the horrible things I've said about you over the years. When I said I didn't like you, I was young and naive and didn't understand your complexities and sophistication. I have seen the error of my ways. I have renounced my childish ways and vow to never slander your good name from here on out. I now see that I can no longer deny you attention in my kitchen, especially because you are such dear friends with my long time love, dark chocolate. Can you ever forgive me, coconut? Is here hope for us, yet?


This Dark Chocolate cupcake batter OR the following:

1 box of dark chocolate fudge cake mix (and ingredients to make it)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS cocoa

Either make the batter I have linked or mix the cake mix, ingredients listed on the box, chocolate chips, vanilla and cocoa. Mix for 2 minutes. Line muffin cups with cupcake liners. Fill liners 2/3 full and bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes. Cool completely.

1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut

In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk to a simmer and stir constantly. Reduce coconut milk by half. Set aside and let cool. With your whipping attachment, whip butter. Add vanilla. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, alternating with cooled coconut milk. When combined, whip for 3-4 minutes on high. If frosting is too soft to pipe, add powdered sugar 1/4 cup at at time until right consistency is reached. If too stiff, add 1 TBS milk until reached.

Pipe onto cupcakes and take handfuls of coconut and press into still wet, soft frosting. Allow a few minutes for frosting to set, serve, and take back everything you ever said about coconut.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Suck it, Simon Cowell!

Have you see this yet? Have you?! Watch it now, and watch the whole thing. It's 7 minutes long, so get cozy, but seriously, you will NOT be expecting THIS! I can't put it up here, so just click on the link and follow to YouTube.

The singer's name is Susan Boyle and her story is something amazing as well. Here's also an article about her, read the bottom as to why she hasn't been able to follow her dream of singing until now, it will melt your heart. Congratulations, Susan for never giving up on a dream. You are inspiring! I'll buy your album the day it comes out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Time to Stock Up

For the last month, these little babies have been my reason for living....

Yes, I'm talking about the Orange Creme Cadbury Egg. Not just the regular Cadbury Egg, the Orange Creme ones. They are the awesome creamy milk chocolate of the traditional egg, but the inside is not the fondant from before. Instead it's a sweet and tangy orange flavored filling that I'm pretty sure must be made out of crack cocaine because they are probably the most addicting candy I've come across yet (and let's face it, I know my chocolate.)

Needless to say I'm a little distressed by the fact that Easter is now over and I won't see them again for another 11 months. So, if you see any on candy closeout, you better tell me. And you better give them all to me, too, because I don't like to share.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Career choices.

Today Sydney informed me of this:

"I've decided that when I grow up, I want to be a mom. And.... if I can't be a mom, then I want to be a movie star."


Monday, April 6, 2009

The winner is....

..not me.

That's okay. I'm thrilled to say the the winner is my new blogging friend Snooky Doodle!

She made a fantastic cupcake and I voted for it a few times, so I'm so glad she won!

Now, I'm sure a few of you who have voted for me in the past and are always supportive of my Iron Cupcake entries are probably a bit confused. I know most of you followed it pretty closely this time and I had the largest surge of support ever this round! For most of the voting period, the cupcake with the most votes seemed to be jumping between me and another competitor. Now, as of the beginning of 2009, there is a new way they pick the winner and I was unaware of this because I did not compete in January and February. From now on out, for every vote you receive, your name gets put into a number pool and at the end of the week, they pick a number using a random integer generator. That number picked is the person who wins the prize pack.
So, the more votes you have, the better chance you have of winning the prize pack, but there's no guarantee.

Now, of course there's good and bad things about this new voting rules, but overall I think it's good. I'm happy. As some of you know, I wasn't thrilled with the way it was before because unless you were a heavy hitter in the blogosphere, you had no chance whatsoever. I think this is a good way to do it. The other great thing is that you can vote for up to 3 cupcakes and the more entries you have the better your chances! Perfect, because I'm already working on several ideas for this month.

Finally, I just want to say thank you to everyone who went to vote, got their friends to vote, made their husbands vote, made their husbands to tell their friends to vote, went to work and bribed and threatened votes out of coworkers, peddled votes on facebook.... it could go on and on. You guys are awesome!

Once again, congrats to Snooky Doodle and her Almond Lemon Anise Seed Cupcake!!

Thanks so much and if you have any special requests for this month's theme of Soda Pop, let them be heard!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


So, this morning I left my husband in charge of the girls while I went to do a portrait shoot. I was gone for an hour and a half. When I came back, this is what greeted me outside on our corner lot on a very high traffic Saturday morning...

Yes, that's my two year old daughter (in nothing but her diaper) helping wash the car. Not a stitch of clothes in sight. Two feet away was her Daddy, completely aware that his daughter was now the official redneck mascot of the block. Here's the conversation that immediately occured:



"You couldn't put any clothes on her?"


"Did you really just ask me why?"

"What's the big deal?"

"Have you looked at your daughter?"

"Yeah? She's fine."

"Whatever, I'll do it myself... VIVIE! Come put clothes on!"

{Vivie} "NO! I washing!"


What's a mom to do except just get out the camera and let her finish?

That's good Viv, a little to the left.

Move on to Mom's car now.. Oh, you're going to use the brush? Okay, good job!

Yes, your a very big girl, are you ready for some clothes now? Yes, I see you have a big brush, that's awesome! Can we go put some clothes on? How about a dress?

Good Viv, don't forget the back. Yes, move closer to the end of the driveway where more people can see you, that would be great. Oh, don't mind that car, it was just our HOA president. Wave hello to the nice man who's probably calling Child Services right now! Okay are you done? Are you ready for some clothes? Fine, I'll just go get a dress, and bring it out here....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rock the Vote!!!

24 more hours to vote for my cupcake. I'm in the lead right now, but it keeps jumping between me and another contestant! If you haven't yet, vote for me or spread the word on your blog! For a little extra incentive:

If you are one of my local friends and I win, I'm going to celebrate with a cupcake party!! So spread the word, link it, post it on your blog! Rock the vote!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cheese Sandwich

I think this is the most cutest most sweetest picture of a little girl in advertising EVER!

APRIL FOOLS!! I bet I fooled you for at least a second there, right? No seriously, why is this little girl so uber creepy and why is she staring at that grilled cheese sandwich like a homicidal maniac about to go postal? Honestly, her face reminds me of Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Actually the best April Fools joke played on me was by my parents in elementary school. When I was in like the 3rd and 4th grade I was completely obsessed with cheese sandwiches, I took them to school almost everyday. On April 1st, my mom sent me to school with a sandwich made out of fake rubber cheese. I remember biting into and trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with my sandwich! I was so confused. There was a note in my lunchbox from my parents that said "April Fools!!" I'm 30 years old and I still think it's funny....

Oh and don't worry, she sent me with a dollar hidden in my lunch box to buy school lunch so I didn't go hungry...

Last night, we got into the parents tricks by switching our girls in their beds while they were sleeping. In the morning Vivie woke up in Sydney's room and Syd woke up in Viv's toddler bed. Sydney thought it was so hilarious, she laughed for like 30 straight minutes. It was so awesome. I'm racking my brain for some more, there's gotta be another trick I can play on Sydney by dinnertime.

So, the question is, has anyone ever played a good trick on you?