In the never-ending quest to find people to eat my cupcakes, I've been reading about Cupcakes In A Jar. You can either bake directly in the mason jar, or bake the cupcakes in muffin pans (without the cupcake liners - prettier that way) and then put them in the jar with frosting. The upside to baking them right in the jar is that you can put the lid and ring on the jar while it's hot, and then it'll seal itself. You have to send the icing separately, though, because you can't put icing on hot cake. Well, you can, but it won't stay icing long! The downside to baking them in the jar and sealing it is Clostridium botulinum. OK! We will skip the baking in the jar and go directly to Plan B. Do not pass go, and definitely do not go to the hospital with botulism.
I have 8-ounce wide-mouth canning jars, because who needs 16 ounces of cupcakes-n-frosting? First obstacle: The regular-size cupcakes are too big to put in the jar. I could sit the little jars right down in the muffin pan. So it had to be mini-cupcakes. I used yellow cake mix, and sprayed the muffin pan with Pam. (Mess!! Next time I'll spray it on a paper towel and wipe each of the cups down.) While the cupcakes were baking, I started the Chocolate Buttercream. Same recipe as last time, except I tried one of the variations that Alice suggested. Instead of using one tablespoon of vanilla extract, I used one TEASPOON of almond extract.
Alice WAS NOT KIDDING when she said that a little almond extract goes a long way. I really should have started with half a teaspoon, mixed that in, and tasted it before deciding whether to add the rest. It was very almondy, though, and it definitely added a bit of the unexpected to the cupcakes. When the baby cupcakes were out of the oven and cooled, I popped one into the bottom of each jar, then used a 1M tip to make a nice swirl of icing, put in another cupcake, and topped it off with another swirl of icing.
After I finished putting the cupcakes together, I put the lids and rings on, and then boxed them up for mailing. Half a dozen went to my cousin Jenny in New Jersey, and five went to Riane, an internet friend in North Carolina who was willing to take cupcakes from a stranger. Jenny raved about the frosting, and said that she might end up keeping them all instead of sharing with my other family. Shhhh! Don't tell! Riane had mixed reviews from her family on the icing. There really was too much almond flavor, although Jenny loved it with her coffee.
That accounts for about two dozen of the baby cupcakes. Remember that I said that a box of cake mix makes about fifty? Well, I had a BUNCH of baby cupcakes to find homes for. Instead of using the 1M for a big swirl, I used a 2D to do nice little stars with non-almond chocolate buttercream:
See how those cupcake papers are kind of peeling off some? It got even worse the next morning.
No idea what caused it, but I had to do triage before I brought any cupcakes to work. I couldn't possibly serve them all flapping open like that. Even after paring down to about a dozen and a half cupcakes, I still had a few left after work on Monday, so stopped by VOICEcorps after work to drop off the survivors.
And while I was there, I got an amazing request: Amy (the director of volunteers) ASKED me if I'd be willing to bake cupcakes for the Celebrity Read-In fundraiser kick-off! Local celebrities and elected officials are coming in to read on Friday, as the annual Care-Athon on-air fundraising week starts. Someone actually wants my cupcakes! And local celebs will be noshing on my yummies while they read! I am so excited!