Monday, May 12, 2008

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A Look Back and Graduation Cupcakes

There's always a weird combination of mixed emotions when something comes to an end. It's usually happiness and sadness or excitement and anxiety or maybe even a combination. In my particular case I am feeling happy and sad. After what feels like an eternity, which has only really amounted to 2 years, I will be graduating from my masters program. I started this program knowing that it would end, but I didn't expect it to end so quickly. Where have the last 2 years gone? Did I really experience it all and sit through 36 credits worth of classes? Am I more qualified to do anything because of this degree? Who knows. Not like it matters anyway since I will be starting classes for my third degree this upcoming fall (yeah, I like school).

After this semester which not only kicked my butt, but also left me bruised and sucking on my thumb for comfort, I am happy to be done. I cannot wait to walk across that stage and get my degree. Not that I ever plan on doing it, but I like the option of putting "MS" at the end of my name (I personally don't like designations after a name). I am happy to put on that cap and gown and anticipate having that glowing feeling of accomplishment. Nothing feels better than doing something on your own and living your dreams. I am sad because this is the end. I will no longer walk into a class and discuss different issues in child development and bereavement. I am sad because I can no longer use the excuse of "I have a paper to write" to get out of things ("I have a paper to write" sounds so much better than "I am lazy and don't want to do it"). It's just sad to have this chapter of my life over with.

To combat these mixed feelings and the thoughts of how my life will be once August rolls around, I decide to bake some special cupcakes. I finally got to use the cupcake silicone baking mold Christina got me for my birthday. I couldn't think of a more perfect cupcake to make than the one's from Magnolia Bakery in New York (these cupcakes make me happy). I had fun decorating them and, of course, they are decorated in pink and black.

Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcakes

Source: Allysa Torey's
More from Magnolia: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Toery's Home Kitchen (online here)

cups self-rising flour
1/2 and 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cups sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 1 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers. (I used my silicone mold, this yielded 21 stars)

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 to 3 cups confectioners' sugar

1/8 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

(I've made these cupcakes before and it was too much frosting for me, so I quartered the original recipe amount.)

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. .

The finished cupcakes.

Close-up of my letters

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