“Winter White and One” was the theme of the party. It was important to me that Tatum’s first birthday party feel intimate and differentiated from the Christmas celebrations we had been involved in days before. I envisioned wiping away the holiday from one room and replacing the red and green with clean, white everything. I liked the idea of white cupcakes on white cake plates – white, white, white… but also wanted to find some unfussy design element that would help commemorate this milestone for my little girl.
There is a company I learned about called Ticings that makes “tattoos” for cupcakes. I was very intrigued by these when I came across them in a magazine. If their product was not cool enough, Ticings currently has an artist doing custom silhouette art for them. Perfect! Despite my late planning and holiday business, Ticings was able to accommodate all my requests and the customer service was a dream. I sent in a photo of Tatum and days later received custom cupcake tattoos with my baby girl’s silhouette. I also asked for the artwork to keep as a momento of the day.
Since I had already spent some money on the tattoos, I figured that I better bake the cupcakes versus purchase designer ones. I am a mediocre baker at best with a very old oven, so I was a little intimidated, but figured it would all work out. (At this point, it might have benefitted me to read the directions on the Ticings packaging, as my cupcakes were not as flat as they recommended which made application more difficult.) A few years ago I was given a cookbook called, “Hello, Cupcake! : Irresistably playful creations anyone can make”. Most of the cupcakes in this cookbook are fun to look at, but not something I would attempt in real life. My favorite thing about this cookbook is in the back there are some tips and tricks and recipes for semi-homemade cupcakes and frostings. The authors allow that homemade is usually best, but in a pinch there are ways to improve flavor and texture from store bought mixes, etc… Their “Perfect Cake-Mix Cupcakes” have worked really well for me:
Perfect Cake-Mix Cupcakes from Hello, Cupcake!
1 box (18.25 ounces) cake mix (French vanilla, devil’s food, or yellow)
(Note from PP5: I like Trader Joe’s brand)
1 cup buttermilk (in place of the water called for on the box)
Vegetable oil (the amount on the box)
4 large eggs (in place of the number called for on the box)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
Follow the box instructions, putting all the ingredients in a large bowl and using the buttermilk in place of the water specified (the box will call for more water than the amount of buttermilk that you are using), using the amount of vegetable oil that is called for, and adding the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer until moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.
Spoon half of the batter into a ziplock bag. Snip a 1/4 inch corner from the bag and fill the paper liners 2/3 full. Repeat with the remaining batter. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean 15-20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the baking pans, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool completely.
Next, I used one of the cookbook’s frostings and was very happy with the result.
Almost-Homemade Vanilla Buttercream
Makes 3 1/2 cups
1 container (16 ounces) Marshmallow Fluff
3 sticks (3/4 pound) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus additional sugar if necessary
Spoon Marshmallow Fluff into a large bowl. (Marshmellow Fluff twice in one month?!?!?) Beat with an electric mixer on low. Gradually add the butter pieces, well after each addition, until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and the 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Scrape the bowl well to incorporate. Add more confectioners’ sugar, if necessary, to adjust the texture.
As we were frosting these cupcakes, my sister and I were unsure about how messy the frosting looked. My mom had a helpful tip that I will pass on to you. After frosting your cupcakes, run your knife under hot water and wipe over frosted cupcake for an ultra-smooth look. (note: The cupcakes were definitely a group effort – thanks, ladies! The moral support was the best part of all.)
I will admit that the Ticings cupcake tattoos were a little more difficult to apply than I had hoped. We used their gold sprinkles to cover mistakes around the edges. In the end, I love the modern look of the silhouette on the cupcake. I was and am really happy with the result!
The family enjoyed a beautiful morning. Cupcakes were a hit and the birthday girl couldn’t have been happier. Tatum is sporting a Poole Party Designs original and sitting in her custom chair from Auntie. It is safe to say she enjoyed her day! Success!