The original title of this post was “How to convince an almost seven-year-old to have cupcakes at her birthday party when all she wants are brownies”, but that didn’t fit inside my little title box. My niece, Skyler, is turning 7 this weekend. She had a birthday party last weekend because my mother and I flew out to Colorado to play body guard to my sister-in-law, so we figured we would celebrate Skyler’s birthday while there. I wanted to make something for her birthday party so I offered to make the cake and was informed she didn’t want one. I spent half of Friday and all Saturday trying to convince this little girl that cake was a birthday party staple and that cupcakes would be really fun and cute.
The party was to be beach themed. Yes, my niece wanted a beach party in Colorado in the middle of March. Each time Skyler asked to play Peggle on my phone I told her, “only if we can have cupcakes at your party” “nevermind”.
“I can make really yummy frosting”
“I don’t like frosting”
“You just want chocolate brownies?”
“What about chocolate cupcakes?!”
“Nooo Aunt Sarah”
“Do you want to help me make your brownies?”
“Okay and then we’ll make cupcakes!”
Finally, after talking all about the beach decorations that would be set up (we had a blow-up palm tree, a sunglasses-wearing-sun, beach balls and beach towels all around the house, but what really set the beachy tone was the blazing fire in the fireplace.) the lightbulb went off and I said we could put beach decorations on all the cupcakes.
Maybe I finally got her excited about cupcakes or maybe I’m just more stubborn than a six-year-old, but she finally agreed. The night before her party we made chocolate cupcakes together, with my sister-in-law following closely behind cleaning up our messes. We also made brownies.
I pulled out my tried-and-true Devil’s Food Cake recipe and started mixing. I slid the cupcakes in the preheated oven and began mixing the brownies while those baked. When the kitchen timer went off I opened the oven and something was just not right. All my cupcakes were sunken in the centers and not cooked through. I let them bake a few minutes longer and still they did not look right. I pulled them out anyway and set them on the counter to cool. As I looked upon my cupcakes, perplexed, it dawned on me: I was in Colorado. High altitude. I made zero adjustments to my recipe and what I got were sad-looking chocolate cupcakes.
I opened one up to make sure it at least tasted fine and it certainly did. My fourteen-year-old nephew inhaled one. I saw him pick it up, then I turned around to check the brownies, when I turned back all that remained was a cupcake wrapper. Teenage boys.
My brother and I stayed up past everyone’s bedtime that night rolling fondant and cutting it into fun beach shapes. Skyler was happy with the results the following morning, until I started making the frosting. You’ve all been making Chocolate Ganache since December, right? I had mixed my ganache the night before so all I had to do was whip and frost. Skyler was in charge of putting the little umbrellas in each cupcake. She was also in charge of making sure I left several unfrosted because some of her cousins don’t like frosting. What sort of weirdo family did my brother marry into?!
A ridiculous amount of frosting is basically the purpose of cupcakes. My fabulous sister-in-law, Joy, informed me that her rockin’ sister, Jessica, had birthed three strange humans who did not consume frosting. I was beside myself. I almost couldn’t finish my dessert duty. I at least had my fondant decorations to top my unsightly cupcakes.
Later that day at the party I was sitting next to Jessica’s five-year-old son, Jeremy. He is one of the cutest little boys in the world. He is also one of the frosting-haters, but he exclaimed, “The top of this thing is so yummy!” My brother asked, “You like the frosting, Jeremy?” “No. I don’t like frosting.” “But you like the top of that?” “Yes.” “That’s frosting.” “Nooo this isn’t frosting!” Haha!
After all was said and done it seemed my cupcakes were a hit, even with my reluctant niece. Everyone approved of the brownies, too.
Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Makes 24 Cupcakes
1 Cup Cocoa Powder
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda (High Altitude: 1 1/2 Teaspoons)
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups Sugar (High Altitude: 1 1/3 Cup)
1 Cup Vegetable Oil (High Altitude: 1 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon)
1 Cup Milk (High Altitude: 1 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon)
1/3 Cup Brewed Coffee
1. Preheat oven to 350 (High Altitude: 375)
2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt
3. In separate bowl beat together eggs and sugar
4. Mix in the vegetable oil
5. Gently fold in half the flour
6. Mix in the milk and coffee
7. Gently fold in remaining flour
8. Pour batter into cupcake pans lined with paper cupcake liners
9. Bake for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when gently pressed (High Altitude: Cupcakes may take closer to 20-25 minutes to bake fully.)
Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
8 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate
8 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1. Combine all ingredients in the top of a double boiler
2. Stir constantly until melted and smooth
3. Let rest at room temperature – do not refrigerate
4. Using an electric mixer, whip on high speed until fluffy and easily spreadable