This is Caiti.
Quite aerodynamic, isn’t she?
Caiti is my baby sister. And yesterday was her 23rd birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAITI! And, in typical Caiti fashion, we started celebrating on Friday and will continue through to the 18th, which is my mom’s birthday. Yup. February pretty much revolves around her. Total baby-of-the-family behavior.
Anyhoo, a couple of weeks ago Caiti asked me if I would make cupcakes for her birthday.
“I definitely want Funfetti cupcakes. But from scratch.”
Funfetti cupcakes. Only the most sophisticated and nuanced of flavors for such a discerning palette.
Oh, who am I kidding? Funfetti is DELICIOUS.
I used Martha Stewart’s white cake recipe and folded in some rainbow jimmies.
(Sidenote: I could only get rainbow and chocolate jimmies combined at the grocery store. So I handpicked all of the chocolate jimmies out of the mix. Seriously. Feel free to not adopt my completely OCD level of anal-retentiveness when making these cupcakes and just use whatever sprinkles you have. Spare yourselves; it’s too late for me.)
So I was definitely making Funfetti cupcakes, that was clear. But I decided to do a second flavor, just so everyone could have a choice. But what to do?
I was on my way to work one morning and talking with my mom about it.
“I don’t know what second flavor to do for Caiti’s birthday cupcakes. I could do chocolate or red velvet, but I really want to do something different, something special, something very…Caiti.”
“Why don’t you do a cupcake after her favorite ice cream?”
Oh, Mama. You’re a genius.
Cherry Garcia cupcakes my friends.
Cherry cake, cherry chunks, chocolate chips and chocolate buttercream frosting.
It tasted like a little baked cake of the ice cream. Seriously good.
I decided the cupcakes needed a little something extra, since they were birthday cupcakes for little sis. SO, I made cherry marshmallows and coated them in sprinkles: red glitter sugar for the Cherry Garcia cupcakes, rainbow non-pareils and pink glitter sugar for the Funfetti cupcakes.
(Second sidenote: I made sure the pink glitter sugar was in, as Caiti refers to it, “Betsey pink”. Meaning, Betsey Johnson pink. Caiti’s favorite designer. It’s crazy how much of her money has gone into Betsey’s pockets. But that’s a story for another day
I was hoping to cut the marshmallows into little balls with the melon baller. But have you ever tried to cut fresh marshmallow with a melon baller? What you end up with is knotted, shapeless lumps of soft, gooey candy. Not so pretty. So I just cut them into squares and tried to make them look as cute as possible. I think they still worked.
I decided to keep the Cherry Garcia cupcakes a secret until Friday, which was when we had her family celebration with everyone over. And I’ll tell you, the look on her face when I told her what kind of cupcakes they were was totally worth everything. She’s such a little kid when she gets excited; all giggles and little dance moves.
So, Happy Birthday to my little brat. You’re a pain, and completely ridiculous, and you drive me totally crazy sometimes. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Love you Caiti-did. THG
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe here)
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 jars rainbow jimmies
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line regular-sized muffin tins with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. In a large mixer bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in sugar and beat until incorporated. Whisk milk and vanilla together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low, add in a third the flour mixture. Mix until fully incorporated. Add in a third of the milk mixture and beat until combined. Repeat, alternating each mixture, until all is added (being sure to end with the flour mixture). Set aside.
In the mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a third of the egg whites into the batter. Repeat until all egg whites are added. Fold the sprinkles into the batter until well distributed.
Pour batter 2/3 way up in each cupcake liner. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcake comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a rack.
Makes approximately 12 cupcakes
***For the cherry cupcakes, reduce milk to 1/4 cup and vanilla to 1tsp. Mix 1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice into milk mixture. Fold in 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups chopped maraschino cherries.
16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Cream butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Slowly add in powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until well incorporated. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract and beat until just incorporated.
***For chocolate buttercream, reduce vanilla to 2 tsp. and add 3 heaping Tbsp. of cocoa powder to butter before beating.
1 1/2 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup maraschino cherry juice, divided
1 cup sugar
large pinch of salt
In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice. Whisk to coat all gelatin. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk 1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice, water, sugar and salt over medium-high heat. Once boiling, cover pot for 3 minutes. Remove cover and wash down sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystallization. Heat syrup without stirring to 240ºF. Remove from heat. Quickly whisk in gelatin mixture, making sure not to let it bubble over.
Add syrup mixture to stand mixer and whisk, starting on low to prevent splashing and gradually increasing to high. Whisk until tripled in volume and fluffy, about 10-12 minutes.
Spray a 3×9 inch glass meatloaf pan. Blot to remove any excess grease. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Let set, uncovered, for 4-6 hours.
Dump marshmallow out on a greased cutting board. Using a hot, sharp knife, cut the marshmallows into 1” squares. Roll in the coating of your choice.
Makes approximately 30 marshmallows