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This is about...

one soldier
       As you probably know by now, I own a cupcake shop called PEACE, LOVE AND CUPCAKES. It's more than just a store name to me. In my own way, it represents my attempt at spreading JOY throughout my little corner of this world. I BAKE TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY--that's what I do! I can't stop wars or cure cancer, but I can bake and share my delicious little treats. And, if any group of people deserve a special treat more than anyone else, IT'S OUR SERVICEMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD. So after some trial and error, I came up with a cupcake baked in a caning jar, topped with a swirl of yummy frosting, all sealed up and ready to ship anywhere.
        Armed with my shippable cupcakes, I'VE SPREAD THE JOY THE BEST WAY I KNOW HOW-- by shipping PL&C's cupcakes to our servicemen deployed in Afghanistan. The first package arrived in pretty good time, a week and a half later. I got to watch on SKYPE in real time as they opened the package. It was a little nerve-wracking as they sliced through the packing tape and then lifted up the box lid. I was PRAYING that they survived their journey, and that the jars remained intact and not broken into a million tiny shards of glass. I COULD TELL BY THEIR SMILES THAT THE MISSION WAS A SUCCESS!! The soldiers who received them were ecstatic! The chocolate hit them immediately upon opening the jars and they were devoured instantly. I'm pretty sure there's not too much chocolate on an army base in Afghanistan.
       So often, when it comes to our troops overseas, I feel helpless here in the U.S. IT'S HARD THINKING OF WAYS TO HONOR THEM when they are so far away from home. Even this small gesture was so appreciated. PLEASE DON'T HESITATE TO SEND THEM YOUR OWN PEACE AND LOVE!! From the pictures, you can see just how much it will be appreciated.
       Below is a recipe you can use to create your own canning jar cupcakes. It's from my own cookbook published by Wiley, "The Butch Bakery Cookbook"--a collection of manly cupcake recipes--how appropriate! Or, feel free to use your own recipe for brownies or cupcakes. Even a box mix will work!

Lessons Learned:
1. I use Kerr wide mouth half-pint canning jars. They come 12 to a case. If you have a True Value hardware store nearby, these can be ordered online, and delivered to the store for pick-up free of charge.
2. Spray the bottoms of the jars with cooking spray.
3. Don't fill the jars any more than 1/2 way up, or you'll have no room for the frosting.
4. If you only want to make a few in the jars, bake the rest of the batter in regular lined muffin tins.
5. Place the jars on a rimmed parchment lined sheet pan to bake. The jars will most likely slide around on the pan when they go in and out of the oven, so the rim will protect them. And use both hands to lift the pan which will be heavy.
6. They will take longer to bake in the glass jars, maybe 10 minutes more. The best way to test for doneness is with a toothpick in the center that should come out clean, and by a cake that springs back when lightly pressed, careful of the hot glass!)

The B-52
A Kahlua Soaked Yellow Cupcake with Bailey's Buttercream Frosting

(adapted for canning jars)

For the Yellow Cupcakes:
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

For the Bailey's Buttercream:
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted through a strainer
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
pinch salt

For the Soaking Liquid:(optional)
3/4 to 1 cup Kahlua or other coffee flavored liqueur

Make the Cupcakes:
       Place a baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Remove the rings and lids from the number of jars you want to use, set those aside, and place the jars on the baking sheet. Spray the bottoms with cooking spray and set aside.
       Place a strainer over a medium-size mixing bowl and sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
       In another medium-size mixing bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and vanilla, beating until well-combined. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beating on low speed, mixing just until all of the dry ingredients are completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
       Fill each prepared jar with batter no more than half way. (Any extra batter can be baked in a standard size muffin pan lined with paper liners.) Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the pos are springy to the touch ( be careful of the hot glass!) and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the Buttercream:
       In another medium-size mixing bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, reduce the speed to medium, and add half o the confectioners' sugar, Bailey's and salt, beating to incorporate. Add the rest of the confectioners' sugar, and beat on medium high speed for 2-3 minutes until very smooth and creamy, scraping down th sides of the bowl as needed.

Cupcake Construction:
       If using, slowly spoon 1 -1 1/2 Tablespoons of Kahlua over the top of each cupcake. Let them sit for 10 minutes to allow the Kahlua to be absorbed.
       Using an ice cream scoop, scoop frosting on top of the cake. Using a knife or spoon, smooth out the frosting just up to the top of the jar, removing any extra. Alternatively, you can use a piping bag or ziploc bag snipped a 1/2 inch at one corner and filled with frosting to pipe it on top
.        Place the lids on and then seal shut with the rings. Refrigerate until ready to ship for up to a week.

Makes about 9 jars or 24 regular size cupcakes. YUM!
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