The "Perfect" Cupcake
This is where is all started as cliched as that might sound. A simple lack of a first birthday party for my little girl. We had just moved to Arizona about two weeks before this picture was taken, and literally had no friends or family there to help celebrate our daughter's first birthday. "They" say that the first birthday party is really for the parents, a sort of commemoration that they were not only able to keep a child alive for a year, but themselves and their marriage. We managed to not only do that, but move across the country to a town where we knew no one. Sure it was a fresh start, but a scary one too. One that not only affected us, but also our small one year old child. Only time would reveal if we had made the correct decision, and sometimes living in the moments leading up to such revelations are difficult. One of those moments was the baking of this cupcake.
I am a party planner. I revel in planning events and parties for myself and loved ones. I make sure that every little detail is taken care of; right down to the toothpicks that are at the event. Not having a first birthday party for my daughter was really difficult for me. I felt I owed her that; heck, I owed myself a good party. But as I said before, we knew absolutely no one in town, and I don't think there is a "rent-a-friend" business here is Scottsdale, and if there is it's probably shady. So we had to go it alone. And as I do, I became obsessed with giving her the perfect cupcake. What is the perfect cupcake for a small child, you may ask? Does it really matter, you may ask? Did a group of mothers get together and deem one specific cupcake better than all the rest, you may ask? The answer is short of no. You see in my efforts to control a world that was pretty uncontrollable, I was on an "organic" kick. I had signed up for the local CSA, started cooking everything from scratch in my big ass kitchen (a luxury not afforded to me in NYC) and I was bound to give L all the best foods. Therefore, the thought of giving her an overload of sugar, just because it was her birthday was baffling to me at the time. In my quest to deliver the "perfect" first birthday, I lost it a little. I spent way too much on organic ingredients, and I stayed up way too late baking them for her. I can't even remember if they were good or not. What I do remember was what my daughter looked like when I gave her the first real hit of something extremely sweet. She was a fan. It melted away all the stress and anxiety I had surrounding the move and her overall well being. I could have given her a Safeway cupcake and made my life infinitely easier, but what we wouldn't do for our kids.
In the end, I don't regret creating her the "perfect" cupcake. What I do regret was not living in the moment and enjoying her first birthday on this Earth. It is such a special day and one that we won't get back. I've since learned to have a little balance in life. Do I still go a bit over board when planning my kids' birthday parties? Um...the answer is yes! However, I actually enjoy the planning process, the set up, the excitement on my kids' faces, the commotion, the clean up (okay I'm lying about that part). I enjoy it because I am not doing to out of obligation or guilt, but out of love for my kiddos. I had a mother who absolutely loved celebrating any holiday, but especially my birthday. I look back at those memories with fondness, and I hope that by creating these special events my children will too...and maybe even ask me for that "perfect" cupcake recipe for their own child.
Want that "perfect" cupcake recipe? Scroll down for some yum!
1 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup Greek yogurt (I make my own... click here )
1 medium banana
1 large egg
2 tbsp molasses or agave (or honey after two years of age)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Cream Cheese frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, cold (I typically use Neufchatel cream cheese)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup Paleo Powdered Sugar ( I make my own... click here )
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400.
Place all the ingredients except the strawberries and chocolate chips in a food processor or blender until the mixture is smooth. Add in about 3/4 of the strawberries and chocolate chips and stir with a spoon.
Line a 12 hold muffin tray with fun paper cases like these and spoon the mixture into the cases (you should be able to make between 10 and 12 muffins depending on their size). Add the remaining chopped strawberries and chocolate chips on top.
Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 15 and 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clear.
While the cupcakes are baking begin the icing.
Place the cream cheese in a mixing bowl.
Using a hand mixer, beat until smooth.
Gradually add the butter 2 Tablespoons at a time, and continue beating until smooth and well blended.
Add powdered sugar and vanilla all at once. Blend until combined and smooth. (Don't beat too long or the frosting will be too soft to pipe. If this happens, place the frosting in the refrigerator or freezer until it firms back up.)
Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin or on a wire rack before icing and serving.
ENJOY the fruits of your labor and exchange a kiss for a cupcake (it works every time!)