Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Cupcake of the Month to Celebrate a UCLA grad

Although graduations in Claremont have come and gone (congrats to all the new masters by the way!) it’s time to start celebrating people finishing up their last quarters in the UC system. One of my good friends who used to craft with me back in my days working at Betty’s Fabrics in San Luis Obispo graduated on Saturday from UCLA.

Because June snuck up on me so fast I didn’t have chance to come up with a cupcake plan in advance I decided her graduation party would be the perfect excuse to try something new. After many hours of googling I narrowed my options to either “Blue and Gold” lemonade cupcakes with blue cream cheese frosting to show a little UC pride, or “Future Brownie” chocoate cupcakes with mortar boards made out of peanut butter cups and chocolate to celebrate that my smarty-pants friend is off to Brown University in the fall to get her master’s.

To get her opinion I dropped a very critpic e-mail (happy graduation. lemons or peanut butter?) and the decision made: lemonade cupcakes!

This month I would just like preface my cupcake recipe with the suggestion that you DO NOT TRY IT. It did NOT work well.

Lemonade Cupcakes

1 box yellow cupcake mix (meaning half a cake yellow cake mix)
2 eggs
6 oz lemonade concentrate, melted
6 oz plain yogurt

Although the box suggested I bake 12 cupcakes for 21-25 minutes at 350˚ after half an hour my poor overfilled cupcake wrappers were brown on the bottom, gooey in the middle, and concave on the top. They turned out more like a lemon custard than anything resembling a cupcake. But the party was mere hours away, so I continued on.

For the frosting (which was later used to fill in the half inch deep sunken centers of my distasterous cupcakes) I mixed half a tub of white frosting with half a package of cream cheese and far too much blue food coloring. I piped it on with a pastry bag starting and ending at the center to fill in the sinkhole.

For the decoration (there to hide the mess I was making) I bought bite sized “English Lemon Cookies” which have a footprint the size of a quarter and are white with powdered sugar. They look just like Mexican wedding cookies, but taste like lemon. I also picked up a tube of square shortbread cookies and a bag of vanilla tootsie rolls. I frosted the tops and sides of the shortbread cookies and let the frosting set up for about 2 hours, then used a little more white frosting as glue to affix the shortbread to the lemon cookie. To make the whole thing a little more lemony and polished I mixed a small amount of lemon juice with about a cup of powdered sugar and made a thin glaze to pour over my little white mortar boards. Again, I let the icing set up for about 2 hours at room temperature.

While they were setting I microwaved 5 vanilla tootsies for 15 seconds and rolled them out into thin strips with a rolling pin on parchment paper. I sliced each flattened oval into three inch-wide strips with a paring knife and rolled each one up like a little diploma. They cool quickly, but needed a second reharden as well. Then with my trusty little tube of Betty Crocker blue icing (I don’t know what I’d do with out it) I put tassels on each mortar board and ribbons on each diploma.

Finally I put the whole mess together, dropping a hat and scroll on each cupcake and praying the diploma didn’t get lost in inch thick frosting by morning. Next time I stick to better trusted recipes, that’s for sure.

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