Saturday, March 12, 2011

More Birthdays Cupcakes (for Mystery Box #9)


Many dislike them, because they signify becoming another year older.

However, for some they represent a success. Another year, another milestone. Another victory in the fight against cancer.

 This month's Mystery Box competition challenged us to make cupcakes celebrating birthdays. I decided to celebrate the hope for a world with MORE BIRTHDAYS. I am participating in, and on the publicity committee for, my local Relay for Life (an event for the American Cancer Society) in April, and I have been raising money by selling cupcakes. (To learn more about Why I Relay and/or to make a donation, please visit my personal page.) One of Relay's goals is to "Create A World With Less Cancer and More Birthdays", so I decided that I would pay tribute to this mission with my entry this month.

Relay's color theme is purple (like the pink for breast cancer research) so I created some homemade Purple Velvet Cupcakes with a purple-tinted frosting. I baked them in party balloon liners and decorated them with festive sprinkles and celebratory star-shaped candles. I filled a few water balloons and labeled each with a different age to celebrate survivors of all ages, all the way to 100! Let's celebrate HOPE this month - hope for MORE BIRTHDAYS.


Purple Velvet Cupcakes
(adapted from Joy the Baker)

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2  Tablespoons red food coloring  - I used 1/4 Tbsp. each of red and blue food coloring, replaced the other 1-1/2 Tbsp. with water, then added gel colors to the batter until I got the color I wanted (sort of)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk - I used 1/2 Tbsp. white vinegar mixed with 1/2 cup milk, and left out the vinegar at the end
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar - I left this out (see above)


Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Turn mixer to high and add the egg.  Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix together cocoa, vanilla and red and blue food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter, mixing thoroughly until completely combined.  You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color. Adjust color if needed.

Turn mixer to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk.  Add half of the flour and mix until combined.  Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour.  Beat on high until smooth.

Turn mixer to low and add baking soda and white vinegar.  Turn to high and beat a few more minutes.
Spoon batter into a paper lined cupcake baking pan and bake at 325 F for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

 That's the Best Frosting I've Ever Had
(adapted from Tasty Kitchen

*Note: I absolutely adore this frosting and could not stop eating it straight from the bowl, but it is very finicky. If you don't follow the instructions exactly, it probably will not work for you. I ended up making the whole frosting twice and the flour mixture three times. I learned a few things: 
  1. Do not stop cooking the flour mixture too early! The second and third times I made the flour mixture, it was thicker than any brownie batter I've made, but it worked perfectly.  
  2. The "over ice" trick works well! I suggest stirring it while it is cooling over the ice though, and touch the flour mixture with your finger to make sure it's completely cool before proceeding.
  3. DO NOT let the frosting warm up at all! I made the cupcakes and frosting the night before I took the photo, and I kept the frosting in a bowl in the fridge overnight, so it became a bit thicker and more solid. When I tried to let it thaw and soften a bit before piping, it completely separated within minutes and I was unable to salvage it. I started over and remade the whole thing. I immediately refrigerated it for several minutes, piped it onto 6 cupcakes, and then put the bowl, the frosted cupcakes, and the piping bag in the fridge until I was sure they were cold before frosting the other half of the cupcakes. All of them went back in the fridge again for a while before I took them out and finished decorating/photographing them as quickly as possible!


  • 5 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar (not Powdered Sugar!) 


In a small saucepan, whisk flour and cornstarch into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step.

Stir in vanilla. Add coloring now if desired. Make it a few shades darker than you want the final product to be.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left.

Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

Grab a spoon and taste this wonderful goodness. If there is any left after your taste test, spread it on a cooled chocolate cake pipe it onto your cupcakes.

Thanks for helping me celebrate More Birthdays! 
Remember, if you would like to help create a world with less cancer and more birthdays, you can contribute here. Just click "Donate".

The winner of March’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:
Thank you to all our prize sponsors!


Galexi Cupcakes said...

Good luck in the competition..Yr purple cupcakes looks super yum!

Anonymous said...

I love the inspiration behind your cupcakes. A birthday is definitely the perfect occasion to celebrate another year of being cancer free.