joanna irl

Cupcakes for One: revisited!

cupcake with frosting

So if you’ll recall, a couple of weeks ago I made a batch of cupcakes and then froze (almost) all of them to see how well they’d hold up in long-term storage, as such. I remember our frozen wedding cake being extremely edible (though all of the frosting shlumped off like a wet towel… which didn’t make it taste bad, so still a win in my book) and I decided to test out individual cupcakes. My recipe for just six is nice, but I can’t (or shouldn’t) eat all six in one sitting, so it’d be nice if I found an effective way to make a dozen and then have them for weeks without them going bad.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have occasionally had a cupcake. There are four left, and I intend to save them another week or so, but I thought I’d share my preliminary findings, for what they are worth to you, gentle reader, in your own quest for CUPCAKE.

cupcake, unwrapped!

Now, I am aware that these aren’t the very best photos of cupcakes EVER, but that’s because I peeled the wrapper partway off before I remembered to photograph it. That’s why they look a little lopsided. I assure you that they came out of the freezer in perfect, unfrosted condition. WAIT. I still have FOUR in the freezer!

cupcake, plain

There you go. That’s what they look like when they come out of the freezer. I take one out as I sit down to dinner, along with the cup of frosting I’ve got in the fridge, and let it come to room temperature. Then I put “fresh” frosting on the cupcake and voilà!


Cupcake BIG BITE

It’s a very successful way to have a cupcake handy when I really need one. Sometimes you just need a cupcake, y’know?

joanna irl

Cupcakes for one?

Rainbow cupcake

I like cupcakes.

When I have a long day, or when I want a small treat, or when I feel like baking, cupcakes almost always fit the bill. The problem is that most recipes yield two dozen of the things, and there is only one of me and I neither need nor want to eat twenty-four cupcakes all at once.

1/12/2012 completed cupcakes

I’ve tried a few things. I even have a recipe that makes only six cupcakes, from scratch! But they are only good when they are super fresh, so even then I end up with at least a couple that aren’t the best. So here’s what I’m thinking.

Cake freezes well.

Frosting can be made in small batches, and even store-bought frosting can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

SO I baked a dozen cupcakes,
did not frost them,
and put them in the FREEZER after they’d cooled about twenty minutes.

My thought is that they will last a WHILE…

…and then all I have to do is thaw one at a time, put on fresh frosting, and have

cupcakes with elephant sprinkles


joanna irl, the geek life

Butterbeer at Home

Hogsmeade, Butterbeer mirror

Recently J and I discovered something kind of amazing, and I wanted to share it with you, gentle reader.

Hogwarts Hogsmeade Harry Potter

A few years ago, Hogsmeade opened for touring to the Muggle population, in an outreach effort and demonstration of goodwill to the non-magical community. Until recent times, the only place a wizard (or visiting Muggle) could purchase butterbeer was in Hogsmeade, which, as I’m sure you know, (after all, you’re reading this) is the only all-magical village in Britain.

Hogsmeade, butterbeer at Three Broomsticks

The ever-popular butterbeer drink has always been a favorite at the Three Broomsticks pub, and can also be found at the Hog’s Head nearby. Muggles seem to like it both chilled (as a soda) and frozen, and the fluffy, magical topping is delightful. The only problem is that the drink is so very good and yet not available anywhere else, that after a visit one might have a sense of sadness that it might be years before the next pint, or that sharing with a friend might be impossible.

Butterbeer, freshly poured

Until now.

While visiting a local soda shop that specializes in root beers, J and I stumbled upon this: Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. Wizards and Muggles rejoice! The only thing missing was the marshmallow topping.

Being resourceful, I pulled the jar of Fluff I keep in the pantry (you never know, right?), and made my own!

Joanna’s Butterbeer topping recipe:

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
  • 3 T heavy cream (half and half will work, too– just something thicker than regular milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Mixing bowl and whisk (though an electric mixer would probably do very well, I do all of my mixing by hand)

Put your Fluff into a mixing bowl and whisk it until it is smooth. Add the cream and keep mixing until they are combined. Finally fold the vanilla into your mixture. You should have a smooth, creamy bowl of goodness. Spoon 2 T of the mixture onto your drink and enjoy!

Voilà! The real stuff, here at home.

Butterbeer foam

Important notes for first-time-drinkers:

  • A little goes a long way with the topping. Too much and you’ll get overflow, as you can see from the above photo. It looks great in the pictures, but it makes the stuff REALLY hard to drink (I chugged quite a bit before it leveled out again). Two tablespoons per mug would give you about the same ratio as at the Three Broomsticks.
  • Stirring in the cream only makes your soda concoction expand at exponential speed. Be patient and drink the butterbeer through the marshmallow topping. Straws also cause the rapid-expansion.
  • This drink is very, very filling. I couldn’t finish mine. I’d recommend it being a dessert and not before a meal. Of course, this is just my opinion, your mileage may vary.
  • I found some recipes online that call for adding butter or rum extract to the topping, but having had the stuff at the Three Broomsticks, I’m not sure any of it is necessary. It might cut the sweetness, though, if you’re looking for not-so-sugary taste.

Butterbeer, after

joanna irl

Snowy Day and Hot Apple Pies in Julian, CA

A couple of days after J got back from deployment (read: after the jetlag was basically over), we decided to start exploring beyond our neighborhood. For our first foray, we chose the quaint town of Julian.

Julian is up in the mountains, and was originally a gold mining town (as so many places were), but now is famous for one thing in particular:

Apple pies.

There is still a small town feel to the place, though, with plenty of little shops and restaurants, so J and I decided to spend an afternoon up there.

As we drove up into the mountains, though, the temperature kept dropping… and as we rounded the bend and saw the sign for Julian, we started catching glimpses of something along the roadside.

Once we passed a certain elevation, we knew for sure: Snow.

Julian snowy roadsIt certainly made for a pretty drive, and it was just old enough that the roads were clear. I was very glad of my coat, though; at home it was in the 70s that day! It was lunch time when we arrived, so we went into the first restaurant we saw, which happened to be a soda shop. I treated myself to a fountain vanilla coke, and watched them stir the vanilla and soda syrup together, then add the carbonated water and ice. Very cool and very tasty. After lunch, we visited their pioneer museum, made mostly of donations from people in the town and containing all sorts of interesting bits and bobs. Then it was time for pies!

Julian apple pie signThere are multiple bakeries on the main street, many of them with windows like these where you can walk up and order. Having never been to Julian, J and I decided to try a couple of places, and split the slices of pie.

Julian pies for saleAnother problem is choosing which type of pie to try! We settled on a plain apple crumble with cheese on top first. Then another apple crumble with vanilla ice cream.

Julian pie sliceYes, we had ice cream in the cold. But it was worth it with the fresh-from-the-oven pie.

DSC_9309Y’know, plus coffee. We got a pastry crust pie to take home (which turned out to be very good as well– we ate it over the next week or so). Julian has more than just apple pies, though. You can also get apple butter, apple cider and apple blossom honey! All of which also came home with us. ^_^

(Julian photos start here, so you can  just click through them.)

joanna irl

Rainbow cupcakes

Tonight I baked rainbow cupcakes for the tea party tomorrow. It’s a Mad Hatter tea party and what better thing than crazy, mixed up cupcakes for such a thing?

Here they are.

all the rainbow cupcakes

And a close view of the inside.

Rainbow cupcake

This one didn’t have much pink in it, but some of them do. It just depends on how we layered the better.

Rainbow swirl cupcakes are super easy– just divide your cake batter into separate bowls, dye them differently, and spoon the bits into the cake pan or muffin pan. They don’t remix unless you stir them together yourself, and you end up with nicely divided layers of color. This was a white cake mix to start to make the colors more vivid, but you could do it with different cakes, too- i.e. chocolate with yellow, or red velvet with white (might have to try that myself) or lemon with white… etc.

The frosting was my usual go-to, just dyed green: 1 pack of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter (softened) and then confectioner’s sugar until it looks right. Stir until your arm’s about to fall off and then the lumps should be gone. Easy peasy. And I’m all about easy peasy homemade stuff.

(Incidentally, homemade pancakes are one of those easy peasy things that people still get the “just add water” mix to make and I just don’t understand…)

joanna irl

Thursday Treat: Cupcakes!

1/12/2012 bare cupcakes

Today was a long day, and I decided to treat myself to something sweet at the end of it (and after I’d had supper). Unfortunately, all I had in the house were some box cake mixes that I not only was saving to turn into other things (they make good bases for stuff), but make, y’know, ENTIRE CAKES. I neither need nor want an entire cake. Really I wanted cookie dough, but that required making cookie dough (and I don’t like to eat my homemade dough for whatever reason) or *GASP* leaving the house.

Aside: Because it’s me, leaving the house requires dry hair (even if I don’t blow it dry) and a matching outfit of sorts. Preferably makeup, too, with how tonight has gone. But that’s a lot of effort and really it’s a lot easier to just not go anywhere. Back to our story.

This left me with the option of making something with what I have on hand, which isn’t much in the way of making sweets. I did, however, have some sugar, eggs and flour… and therefore the basics of cake! I went online and found a very simple, oil-free cake recipe and then tweaked it a little until it looked and tasted the way I wanted. The best part? It made SIX CUPCAKES. Just six. I can manage six. I might still give half of them away, but really they’ll work just fine.

While they were baking, I started pulling out other odds and ends to come up with a frosting. Homemade frosting is a recent talent I’ve discovered; I’m a teeny bit mad at myself for never trying it before because I make some very nice frosting, if I do say so myself!

1/12/2012 chocolate cream cheese frusting

Here in my mixing bowl I put in some butter, some cream cheese, some powdered sugar, some cocoa… and made a chocolate cream cheese frosting that might just be my new favorite. I’m not even kidding.

After about twenty minutes, the cupcakes were done so I pulled them out of the oven, let them cool, and then frosted them. The cake has chocolate sprinkles in it, and I put more sprinkles on top because really, who doesn’t like sprinkles? No one, that’s who.

1/12/2012 completed cupcakes

So there they are! My cupcakes (minus the one I ate). ^_^

The irony? Going to the store (wearing, y’know, shoes and stuff) was too much effort for me… so I baked stuff from scratch instead. Go figure.