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August 21, 2017This is about... MAKING THE WORLD A HAPPIER PLACE one cupcake at a time!
PEACE, LOVE AND CUPCAKES, my little cupcake shop, IS UNDENIABLY THE HAPPIEST PLACE IN WOODSTOCK. That was by design, I wanted everyone who walked into my vision of Candyland, no matter how crusty or cranky, to leave with a smile on their face. I have always believed that a cupcake can turn a frown upside down. And from day one, MY GOAL HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY THROUGH MY BAKED TREATS. Up until a few months ago, it worked like a charm. I always succeeded in passing on that sweet, happy vibe. BUT SOMETHING HAS CHANGED. People are entering “My Little Shop of Happiness” more disgruntled, stressed, entitled and selfish. That smile I could always evoke when they entered isn’t so easy to come by now. They’ve seem to have lost their capacity for delight. They still buy lots of cupcakes, but I have to work a lot harder to get them to connect to any joy that might be buried inside of them. And sometimes, nothing works. It’s not just at my shop either, ALL OVER TOWN, THE SHOP OWNERS ARE NOTICING THE SAME THING. With the craziness of our new world order, people can’t seem to step out of their intense lives even for one moment now to relax, sing a song, smile, or be kind to one another. Are we all just moving too fast? Spinning out of control? HAVE WE LOST THE ABILITY TO stop and really SMELL THE ROSES, OR simply just TAKE A LONG, DEEP BREATH?? Maybe. Seems that we’re getting permission from the very top to ditch our love, compassion and patience for each other, and allow our dark sides to emerge unchecked. The bullying and other hurtful actions that have overwhelmingly increased over the last year are taking their toll on everyone, even in my little Brigadoon-like hamlet. THE BEAUTY OF HUMANITY IS OUR ABILITY TO LOVE AND BE LOVED. Look at Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama--they create that vibe wherever they go. They have what appears to be an almost unique ability to spread the kind of positivity, compassion and connectedness that we all so desperately need. We have not been put on this planet to live isolated, greedy, selfish lives. We’re here to interact, and help each other grow and experience joy. Why can’t we all just be friends, or at the very least happily allow each and every one of us to live our own lives the way we choose? HOW DID THAT GET LOST IN THE TRANSLATION?
FOR ME, I’M MAKING THE WORLD A HAPPIER PLACE, ONE SWEET CUPCAKE AT A TIME.
1. I don’t like using a lot of red food color, and I love more cocoa flavor, which makes a less red colored cupcake. If you want a brighter red cupcake, you can up the food color by one Tablespoon, and lower the cocoa powder by one Tablespoon. But the flavor will not be the same.
2. Beat the frosting just until smooth and creamy. If you overbeat it, it may curdle!
3. This recipe makes and frosts 24 cupcakes. If you like, you could freeze some of the unfrosted cupcakes in freezer bags or an air tight container for up to 3 months, and cut the frosting recipe in half.
RED VELVET CUPCAKES with the Creamiest Cream Cheese Frosting
(At Peace, Love and Cupcakes, we’ve named this cupcake the “JANIS JOPLIN.”)
For the cupcakes:
1 ¾ c cake flour
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup safflower oil, or some other neutral oil
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 large egg whites, ½ cup
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon red food coloring
½ teaspoon white vinegar
¾ cup buttermilk, well shaken
For the frosting:
9 oz. full fat cream cheese
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
Top a medium size mixing bowl with a strainer. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, and push through the strainer to eliminate any lumps. Set aside.
In another medium-size mixing bowl, add the rest of the cupcake ingredients and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients and combine well.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the muffin tins filling them ¾’s full. Bake for 19-22 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean and the cake feels springy to the touch. Cool completely.
Make the frosting:
Add the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, and beat just until smooth. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and heavy cream and beat just until smooth and creamy.
Fit a piping bag with a plain ½” tip and fill the bag halfway with frosting and top each cupcake with a few swirls. Alternatively, top each cupcake with 2-3 Tablespoons of frosting and decoratively swirl with a knife or spoon.
Keep the cupcakes refrigerated until ready to serve.
Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for 3 months.
Makes two dozen cupcakes.