Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Treats

My coworkers - and now Christopher's coworkers - 
expect periodic homemade treats.  
While I love baking, I'm also busy and the thought of sifting flour 
while Hannah's preparing to have a meltdown does not sound appealing.  

So sometimes - most of the time - I use a box mix.
... at least for work treats.
I've found that as long as the presentation is nice, they aren't picky.

I started with a Betty Crocker Super Moist Butter Recipe Yellow cake mix.  
(this just means you use butter instead of oil.  
This doesn't really matter to me, it's just what I had 
on hand after a big Betty Crocker sale stock up.)
I prepared the recipe as directed, preheated the oven, and began separating out all my mini cupcake liners.

TIP- The dollar store usually has 100 count packs of mini cupcake liners in holiday specific patterns.  While the quality isn't great, and a few of the liner tore while I was separating them, the 100 count was enough for 1 box of cake mix, and significantly cheaper than the store.

My mom gave me two 24 count mini cupcake pans for Christmas, 
and I made 6 dozen cupcakes - so 3 pans full.

Not knowing that it would make SIX dozen, 
I filled 2 dozen liners with white and then added the pink coloring, 
so it wasn't half and half like I wanted.  Keep that in mind.

This platter was for my coworkers.  
I frosted them with Target brand cream cheese frosting 
(I wanted to try it, and it wasn't that bad).  

I emptied the container of frosting into my Kitchenaid mixer bowl with the whisk attachment.  I whipped the frosting with 1 tsp of vanilla flavoring, and then piped it on with a disposable Wilton icing bag (easy clean up was key with this project) and a Wilton round tip (#12 I think).

I then added a pinch of pink sprinkles to each treat.  
(sprinkles were bought for about $3 at a 
TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Homegoods store.) 

Chris brought a 2 dozen pan of mixed white/pink cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and then a 2 dozen pan of pink cupcakes with cherry frosting (which I think is gross and tastes like cough syrup, but his coworkers always rave about it.  Weird.)

I finished them with the same sprinkles, and just served them in the cupcake pan so they wouldn't tip over while he was driving.  
Not fancy, but easier to handle.

The cupcakes lasted 45 minutes in my office and 10 minutes in Christopher's.

So to reiterate - 
How to fancy up Boxed Cake Mix & Canned Frosting:
  • Add food coloring, flavoring, or citrus zest to cake mixes.
  • Whip frosting for a lighter consistency
    • Also, add coloring, flavoring, zest, or at least some vanilla.
  • Invest in a nice reusable icing bag or a box of disposable ones.
  • Buy a coupler and a few round tips -
    • #10, #11, #12 - are good for topping mini cupcakes.
    • #1A of #2A  - are good for normal/jumbo cupcakes.
    • #1 and #2 - are good for lettering on cakes or adding fine detail.
  • Find some sprinkling sugar. 
    • It's a great way to make your cupcakes look store bought - especially if you just add a small pinch.

Surprisingly, the skimpyier you are on the frosting 
(see how my frosting doesn't completely cover the cupcake top?) 
and the sprinkles, the more expensive your cupcakes will look.

I had 5 coworkers accuse me to re-plating store bought 
cupcakes because they looked 'too good'.

Turns out I'm just THAT good.




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