Happy Birthday, Ryan! (um, Cupcakes!!)

Cupcakes, al fresco!!

Well, happy Sunday.  I hope your weekend was full of summer and sunshine; I know ours certainly was!  Yep, that’s right, after an extensive May/June/July gloom that hung over our Southern California heads like a dirty secret or a cartoon-inspired-cloud-of-awkwardly-visible-punishment, this past week the Los Angeles sun came out and brought its A-game.  And by A-game, I mean, disgustingly hot, yellow, pounding heat.  Ryan and I live a few blocks from the ocean so we are blessed with an ocean breeze that makes life without air conditioning “bearable”.  I was running errands in Culver City on Thursday; however, and yeah, I felt it.  I melted, twice.  Luckily for me, VONS has no windows and a lot of perishable food, so I hung out there for an hour after my errands were complete, recuperating in the very climate-controlled ice cream aisle.  I also convinced the produce guy to cut me up a mango.

And Ryan's Birthday Cake 🙂

Did I mention Ryan had a birthday?  Yep, he’s human!  He has a birthday, just like everyone else, except he has the honor and privilege and responsibility of dating the lovely and amazing me!  I guess having a girlfriend with a cooking blog has its perks, although having her rearrange your food and take it outside for pictures when you’re starving for dinner is probably not one of those benefits.  Anything involving dessert; however, is definitely a good thing.  I’ve been making this really simple Hershey’s back-of-the-cocoa-powder-tin chocolate cake (recipe) for a few years now, and as much as I want to toy with the recipe, I’m too broke and too busy to botch my boyfriend’s birthday cake.  Besides, it’s a billion degrees in L.A. right now, and I would prefer to never turn the oven on again, thank you very much.   I was also lazy and worried about spiking Ryan’s cake with espresso, although he gave me the O.K. later.  Next year, boo, next year.  Anyway, I made classic chocolate cupcakes with two frostings: milk chocolate and tangy cream cheese.

This is the same cake, but in New York, 2008.

I’ve eaten six.  On to the photographs!!  Healthy bloggers beware, this is not going to do much for your bikini-body-dreaming.  This is full-on-boy-wants-cake-pornography.  I do have some pictures from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, but I’m not sure if a Brandywine heirloom tomato or a box of apricots ready to be devoured really belongs on a post this saturated in, well, saturated fat!

First, take everything that's remotely good for you and put it away. You won't be needing it.

Then, combine the wet ingredients.

And the dry ingredients.

Surprise! Mix together the wet and dry ingredients. For about 2 minutes.

Slowly stir in a cup of boiling water. Don't cook your eggs!

Fill up cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way with batter.

Bake at 350 for about 22 minutes and then let 'em cool!

Oh! Frosting! Don't let the lightness fool you: it's evil.

I am a big proponent of cooling cupcakes outside, where all your  neighbors can see what you’ve baked and just envy you.  We can’t all be saints.  Also, we can’t all be pillars of health, all day, every day.  Which is why God invented cream cheese frosting.  I mean, because why wouldn’t you combine butter and cream cheese and powdered sugar?  Oh, and vanilla… which isn’t bad for you!  Yay!  What else do I want to say during this interruption?  Oh, yeah.  Sugar.  I eat too much of it these days.  But anyway, I find that most frosting recipes are way too sweet for my liking.  I understand that powdered sugar provides frosting with its perfect, beloved fluffy-but-firm consistency, but honestly, it puts me over the edge.  Also, I’d rather eat a whole bowl of ice cream on top of my cupcake four cupcakes than add a little bit of extra sugar to my frosting, because I’m sane like that.  Anyway, especially in cream cheese frosting, I always taste as I go, because too much sugar can ruin a tangy goodness.

Dollop frosting onto cooled cupcakes, then spread in a circular swoosh.

And these little cream cheese ones!

And more chocolate! These were my favorites.

A checkerboard cupcake photo shoot... totally normal?

Anyway, I am nursing a cupcake hangover this morning, looking forward to a healthy and happy week full of exciting opportunities, and sunshine, too.  I have lots of random pictures to post, and some good dinners coming up soon, so that’s good!  Bye!  Oh, and if you were wondering, I made the cream cheese frosting by smooshing together 8 oz. cream cheese and 4 tablespoons unsalted butter.  And then, with an electric mixer, I beated in, little by little, some sifted powdered sugar.  Definitely less than a cup.  It’s to taste.  And then added 3/4 teaspoon vanilla.  Woot.  The chocolate frosting is a half batch of the chocolate frosting from the Hershey’s recipe.  And I lowered the sugar there too.  Also, use espresso powder in all chocolate recipes and do as I say, not as I do.

P.S. I just went on a run and feel infinitely better/stronger/healthier.  Which means it’s probably time for another cupcake.

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Comments
13 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Ryan! (um, Cupcakes!!)”
  1. Birthdays are a perfect occasion for tried and true desserts. I make my husband the same thing every year 🙂 There’s too many other days for experimenting! This cake looks fantastic 🙂 And I love the checkerboard display of cupcakes!

  2. Oh, Happy Belated Birthday to Ryan 🙂 Look at allof those yummy treats!

  3. Jessie says:

    Yay! I love birthdays! And baking for them. These look tasty– I’m starving. But I ate wayyy too much good food in Boston so staring at yours is as good as it gets for me. And I seriously had SO many good sandwiches this week– it was divine. Divine! Ciao bella!

  4. Love it! They look delicious and I am so with you on not wanting to have the oven on, for sure! p.s. love the poll and I think it’s really funny that we all want to see what’s in Ryan’s lunchbox… is it pb & j? 🙂

    • Lauren says:

      Glad you like it! Ryan is actually one of those boys who thinks he cannot get full if his meal does not include animal, so he only takes a PB&J when we are both really lazy/out of town and there is no prepared meat in the house. But when he does have a PB&J, it is always with milk and it is pretty cute. I, on the other hand, eat at least one peanut butter and jelly a day… AT LEAST.

  5. Oh, cream cheese frosting. How I love thee. You lucky Ryan, you! Happy birthday… even though I wish I was in your shoes, eating those cupcakes.

    Lauren, you did an awesome job on these cupcakes, and I have to admit, I would make them but I’m running on one beater with my handmixer… The other one got mangled – oops – in the garbage disposal last week, and I’m being cheap. They’re beautiful, though, and I’d be willing to bet that there aren’t many left!

    • Lauren says:

      Ohhhh, cheapness, I know it too well. I think I tried to bake for a few months without having white sugar or vegetable oil, because we were out and I didn’t want to restock and spend. The results were… very caramelized. Lots of brown sugar and butter… which we ran out of, too. (And is actually more expensive to replace!)

  6. The icing on those cupcakes looks SO good! (And I am not a big icing person)!

  7. Jean says:

    The cake and the cupcakes look delish! If only I could reach into the screen and grab one–doesn’t matter which frosting. I’m an equal opportunity cupcake eater.

    Thanks for an enjoyable read, as always. 🙂

  8. Cream cheese frosting is some of the best stuff on earth. But I agree–it needs a little tang to it or it risks being too sweet.

    And have I mentioned lately how nuts you are. 😉

  9. Monet says:

    Happy birthday Ryan…I agree, he’s very lucky to have such a beautiful and talented girl by his side. I love cupcakes, and as much as my tummy might protest, I would rather enjoy a cupcake hangover. I think that cream cheese frosting is truly a gift from god. I could eat it by the bowlful, which would probably be a pretty bad thing (I have a propensity towards cavities). Anyhow, I hope you have an amazing evening, with at least three more cupcakes in your belly, and I hope that Ryan makes you 6 dozen cupcakes and a pie for your birthday.

  10. Mom says:

    It can’t be a birthday without this classic! Do you remember this cake birthday 2009 shared with preBar exam Lisa?

  11. Happy birthday, Ryan! He’s a lucky man!

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