Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different

by Xani

Long-time readers of this blog might have picked up on a theme-- EP and I are all about TASTE.  Sure, we "eat with our eyes" first, and food can be elevated by gorgeous presentation, but in the end, if it don't taste good, I ain't eating it.  I'd rather have a piece of delicious homemade pie, even if it is lopsided and falling-apart, than a picture-perfect pie from the bakery that just tastes blah.  So that's pretty much my rule with food: flavor over form.  But, there are exceptions to every rule, and these cupcakes broke all the rules!

I volunteered to make the cupcakes for a very special little girl's 9th birthday party this past weekend.  This little girl, G, just ADORES doggies and kitties-- so much so that her party was held at the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  G and her friends got to tour the shelter facilities, learn all about animal adoption, make dog/cat toys for the animals, and even meet some sweet dogs and cats waiting to find their forever homes.

You know I love a theme, so of course I had to make doggy/kitty themed cupcakes!  I found this great tutorial, stocked up on candy, and invited EP over to help me create these cute confections!

Earlier in the day I baked up two dozen plain yellow cupcakes-- they were fine, not particularly remarkable, but the real magic was coming later.  I had also made the executive decision to use store-bought icing for the cupcakes.  I call this a case of "know your audience"-- pretty sure nine year old kids wouldn't even LIKE my homemade swiss meringue buttercream; they'd prefer some Duncan Hines from a can any day.  And who am I to deprive them of that??  Plus, I was worried if I made my own icing it wouldn't have the same properties as store-bought (which is recommended in the technique) and the cupcakes wouldn't come together properly.  Finally, buying store-bought meant I didn't have to stress over making my own.  Decision=made.

Onto assembly!  After carefully reviewing the instructions, we decided to make three varieties of cupcakes: Westies and Beagles, directly from the website instructions, and kitties, which we basically made up, using a variety of techniques from the dog cupcakes, and other ideas from the internet and our own noggins.

Fast forward a few hours, and voila!
Westies galore

A whole tower of cute cupcakes!

In summary:  HOW FREAKING CUTE ARE THESE??  I die from their cute-ness.  Every time I put on a nose or dabbed the icing onto the eyes to create that "twinkle" I involuntary giggled and/or said "awww" aloud.  Now, were these the most delicious things I've ever made?  In a word, no.  The cupcakes were fine-- probably better than if I had used a store-bought mix but definitely nowhere near the flavor, texture, and moistness of some great cupcakes I've had over the years.  The store-bought icing and candy toppings (the features were made of Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, marshmallows, Junior Mints, and Almond Joy pieces) made for a great look but are definitely not my favorite kind of sweet treat.

But these weren't for me, they were for G and her friends, and they LOVED them!  Everyone oohed and aahed over the cute faces.  Some deemed them "too cute to eat," but managed anyhow.  It was great watching the kids carefully disassemble the faces, eating them piece by piece, or re-creating the faces on their cake plates.  So, who cares if these were more about look than taste-- the important thing is they added and extra-special touch to an already special birthday.  I'm already looking forward to next year, when I'll probably be making cupcakes with Justin Beiber's face made out of Skittles.  Stay tuned!

Don't forget to spay and neuter your pets, folks!



  1. Yay!! Totes adorbs. Need I say more?

  2. Birthday Girl's DadAugust 9, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    Xani & Erin: Thanks so much for making the effort to bring these little delights 'to life'. They really made the 'cake thing' a party hit for the kids.

    It is so wonderful to have you in G's life and I know she adores you both.

  3. How cute are these? The use of Starbursts for the tongues is crafty genius! Can't wait for the Skittles-Beiber : )

    I agree with the B-day girl's dad - G is a lucky girl!

  4. first off, what a wonderful thing to do for G, I am sure it really made the day feel even more special, and what an awesome birthday idea!

    Second, kudo's to you for not getting stuck in doctrine and cooking for your audience. Sure you could have made an amazing cake from scratch but as you said, 9 year olds probably crave something different and they obviously really enjoyed it!


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