A child’s birthday is a very special event, not only for the child but also for the parents. On that special day, however many years ago, you were blessed with the birth of your child and he or she is now another year older. Maybe it seems like just last week your child was learning to sit up or crawl or walk; now, you can’t get her to sit still! Now, she has her own personality and interests and she’s her own independent mini-adult. It is truly amazing to watch your child grow through the years.
My 4-year-old daughter, even at just 4, seems much older than she really is. She is a pro at playing computer games, she wants to do everything herself, she’s bossy, and it’s hilarious to hear her say grown-up words and phrases, such as “That’s not dignified!”. Not long ago, she was crawling through the living room babbling out baby words, “dum dum diggum” was one of her baby word phrases. At that point in time, I could not picture her as she is now – walking, talking, having conversations with her.
My 2-year-old son isn’t talking yet, although he’s excellent at saying “dada” and “mama”. I couldn’t believe it when he turned 2 in July. He is such a trouble-maker. He is into everything, constantly. He’s just figured out how to open the refrigerator and yesterday morning he grabbed a piece of leftover pizza for breakfast! I didn’t have any ideas on how to keep the refrigerator door locked, so we’ve taped the refrigerator shut!
It’s impossible to know how your kids will change as the years roll by, but you can always be certain of at least one thing – they love birthdays! Everything about a child’s birthday is a dream come true for them. There’s cake, ice cream, presents, fancy decorations, friends and family. What’s not to love about that?
I was honored to have been asked to bake cupcakes for a friend’s son’s birthday earlier this month. It was his 4th birthday, and as my little girl is 4, I know how special it must have been for him and his family, and I was so happy to have been asked to provide the cupcakes for his special day.
My friend didn’t have a solid idea as to what kind of cupcakes she wanted for her son except that the cupcakes had to be filled; she basically left the design up to me. After a bit of a think, I asked her how they would like ice cream sundae cupcakes, to which she replied that that would be great!
These couldn’t really have been more perfect for a child’s birthday – ice cream in cupcake form! And they really look like sundaes! These chocolate cupcakes are filled with chocolate ganache, frosted with vanilla buttercream, swirled with more chocolate ganache and decorated with sprinkles and maraschino cherries. They tasted fantastic!
I have to be honest. I baked extras of these cupcakes so that we could have some too! Well, I had to taste them to make sure they were good enough for my friend’s son’s birthday! And they were good enough, of course; everyone loved them.
Adapted from Hershey’s
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper baking cups.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
Using the cone method, fill cupcakes with chocolate ganache (recipe follows). Frost with buttercream (recipe follows) using a round piping tip, then spoon chocolate ganache glaze (recipe follows) on top of buttercream. Put sprinkles on as soon as you finish putting the ganache on each cupcake, just in case the ganache hardens too much for the sprinkles to stick. Push a maraschino cherry into the top of each mound of frosting (the ones with stems make a better presentation!).
Chocolate Ganache Filling
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes enough to fill 12 cupcakes (with a little leftover)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and stir until combined.
I put the ganache in the refrigerator to firm it up just a little teeny bit, about 15-20 minutes I think it was. It was still pourable, but it wasn’t dripping everywhere, either.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes enough to generously frost 12 cupcakes
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth.
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes enough to top 12 cupcakes (with a little leftover)
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup
Place chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
Gently stir chocolate and cream until totally combined; begin near the center of the bowl and gradually work your way toward the edge, pulling in as much chocolate as possible, until the mixture is smooth and glossy.