My friend Jen's son Ryan just turned six, so I wanted to make his favorite cupcakes--yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
But I wanted to do some "boy" decoration, and got inspiration from the bat they recently found in their house.
It was my first sight of a bat, and I had no idea they were so small and so freakin' cute!
The little guy was captured in a bucket (per a bat rescue website) and released at dusk.
I cruised Google Images for inspiration, and found a simple design using a cookie and a Hershey's kiss.
But there were variations.
I like to compare and contrast before I embark on any project, artistic or cooking-related.
Yep, I'm one of those detailed types who analyze all the options.
Initially I saw designs with the kiss turned with the base forward, but I can't seem to find an example now.
Most examples place the point to the front.
Here's one from Purple Kitty
Sometimes the kiss is close to the wings, and other times there's a big gap, like this one by Mommy's World
Usually the wings are chocolate cookies (like Thin Mints) but Finger Food Recipes used Shortbread
A photo on All Recipes used two kisses
Sometimes the wings were flat
From Chocolate Candy Mall
Or the wings were arcing down, which looks good
These from Creative Cupcakes
I really like the design on Gummibunny, though the wings are arcing opposite the previous example.
The red gel eyes (or orange) look best.
The Baking Pan had some gorgeous ones
Okay, now that I'd gotten a design figured out, I needed to choose a cake and frosting recipe.
When in doubt, I always go with something from The America's Test Kitchen, because they've done all the hits and misses and their recipes are excellent.
They have several versions of yellow cake though, so again I had to sort between several options.
One recipe was posted on Throwing Spoons, along with a frosting recipe by Hershey's.
I decided instead to go with a the Foolproof Chocolate Frosting on the Test Kitchen's site (note: this recipe is free to view, you just have to submit your email address. Other recipes on the Test Kitchen's and Cook's Country's sites are only available to paid members. I wouldn't mind that so much except they have more than one level of paid memberships. I mean, if I'm already paying for the magazine and access to the first level of recipes, um, isn't that enough? It turned me off so much I canceled everything with them. Honestly, I'd rather see ads. That's my opinion anyway).
Unfortunately, I thought the frosting was horrendous, so I dumped the whole lot.
What a waste of perfectly good chocolate.
But 3/4 cup of corn syrup? Really?
The Cookbook Junkie has a recipe for "the best yellow cake I ever made" that is supposedly based on a Test Kitchen recipe.
That one looked really good, but I had buttermilk on hand, so I thought I may as well use it.
The Test Kitchen site has one recipe for Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake, that is different from examples I was finding on blogs, so I was getting confused.
The recipe incorporates buttermilk, but I didn't want to bother with separating eggs (even though the dogs would have appreciated the leftover yolks).
I decided to go with the Classic Yellow Cake recipe on Gastronomer (she posted some great tutorial photos too).
I also used her frosting recipe, which oozed on smoothly like ganache.
The cake part was okay.
Next time I'll try Cookbook Junkie's recipe.
I ended up taking the cupcakes over to Jen's house late, when her son was already in bed.
We left the cupcakes on the kitchen counter so he got this fun surprise when he woke up.
She said her kids had cupcakes for breakfast!
I hope it was a little bit magical.