Cupcakes and half birthdays

Her first year at preschool and her first school birthday party. All Summer babies get to celebrate their half birthdays since they would otherwise miss out. Being an August baby myself, I know how left out one can feel during the Summer when nobody is around for your birthday party.

For this event, I made Devil's Food cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting - from scratch and working into the wee hours of the morning. Oh, the things we do for our children!

 I must mention that I am not a fan of cupcakes or frostings. I grew up in a Croatian home with Croatian traditions and desserts - cupcakes not being one of them. So I searched for a new chocolate cupcake recipe other that the one from Cook's Illustrated that I made for her third birthday.

I really should have stuck with the recipe from Cook's Illustrated as they are the best resource I've found for baking and cooking. They thoroughly test all of their recipes many, many times and have the best explanations as to why they chose one method or ingredient over another.

Which brings me to the recipe from Martha Stewart that I ended up baking instead. Mix cocoa powder with hot water in one bowl, the flour mixture in another bowl, the butter and sugar in a large saucepan which is then transferred to yet another bowl (of a stand mixer)...I have yet to clean up all of those bowls and kitchen counters! 

I'm a perfectionist, so I tend to find something wrong with everything - even when there's nothing to find. My biggest issue with this recipe is the use of coarse salt. Who uses coarse salt in cupcakes? Even though I used exactly the amount specified, the cupcakes tasted rather salty to me. I'm sure the ton of sugar in the buttercream frosting manages to mask some of the saltiness. I think I'll stick with Cook's Illustrated in the future.

Despite the saltiness, I think the toppers were really adorable...lions, giraffes, elephants, and zebras. Oh, and colorful sprinkles by request from the "birthday" girl herself.

In addition, I put together a few European treat bags for her classmates: Hanuta, Haribo mini gummy bears, Kinder Schoko-Bons, and a Duplo bar. I hope they liked getting something different!

I also put one of those treat bags in my husband's suitcase this morning as he left for California. I'm sure he'll love finding all of his German favorites while he unpacks his suitcase later tonight!

Hope you had fun today my little half-birthday girl!