Some people call Valentine’s Day “Single’s Awareness Day.” I don’t really know why single people would get bent out of shape over Valentine’s Day- it’s about love. Not just romantic love, but familial love, love of friends, and love of yourself. If you’re single on Valentine’s Day instead of feeling bad, go buy yourself something! Or treat yourself. And not just on Valentine’s Day.
I am not single by any means. And Jay is very good to me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t treat myself, either. So this doesn’t have anything to do with cupcakes, per se (there are cupcakes in this post though, I promise, and if jewelry doesn’t interest you feel free to scroll on down to the baked goods)… but thanks to Sarah at LuShae Jewelry I got the opportunity to treat myself to this beautiful ring, and I wanted to thank her!
I don’t want to sound like I’m doing a sales pitch on the Home Shopping Network, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like wearing your real diamonds everyday on the subway, if you like the look of expensive jewelry & your budget doesn’t allow it, or if you’re into costume jewelry, then check out their website. Or, if you don’t like wearing diamonds because of the political and social issues involved (remember Blood Diamond?) this is another option for you. I wrote about fake stuff the other day… and while I still stand by all that, the only fakes that are acceptable in my eyes are costume jewelry pieces. At this website, they have really lovely rings and earrings and some amazing pendants as well. I happen to be very hard on jewelry. Like Paula Deen, I bake and cook with ALL of my jewelry on, and I never take it off to shower, I wear them while gardening, etc. Mainly because I just don’t remember to take ’em off, I jump in to everything without thinking about “my jewels” (haha… yeah, my jewels… like I’m Queen Elizabeth!). So because it takes a beating, I prefer costume jewelry for the most part, but I need it to be well-made, strong and also affordable, in case it needs to be replaced. That’s the main reason I wear men’s watches too, they’re chunkier and usually take a beating better (plus, the styles are usually cleaner & less “dainty” than women’s watches). Aside from that, I’m not the “super bling” type of girl, so I rarely go for diamonds or anything like that. But this was such a pretty ring, I just knew I had to have it. So go treat yourself to a piece of jewelry… and then, like me, treat yourself to some of these.
So like I said in the spirit of treating oneself… I made these cupcakes for me, they’re everything I like; they’re vanilla- I baked the Magnolia Bakery recipe (my favorite… and if you’re going to be treating yourself, make a real recipe… no Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker mixes, although I happen to stand by the fact that one should never consider a mix to be “baking”, I’ve long ago grown out of that pre-fab food phase), put some nice, thick, creamy pink-striped vanilla buttercream, and they’re in pink zebra print liners (thanks to sweet estelle’s baking supply and Yoyo who bought them for me!). Let me say that again. Pink zebra liners!
How ADORABLE are they!? If I was Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com I’d be yelling PINK ZEBRA LINERS!! (instead of her versions, WAFFLE FRIES! or SHINGLES!) and doing jazz hands in a video right about now (yeah if you don’t read Dooce, you’re definitely not going to get that reference). I sprinkled some pearl nonpareils on top of the frosting, because what goes better with treating yourself to some jewelry than pearls? They’re really girly looking, and would be perfect for a Bachelorette party or bridal shower, or birthday. Or if you’re me, a Friday night watching Olympic ice dancing.
I know.. it’s the cutest thing ever.
I think that presentation is one of the most important things when it comes to anything creative- art, design, baking, cooking, etc. So the liners you choose and the toppings you put on your cupcakes can make a HUGE difference. Also, the way you apply your frosting makes a big difference too. Always make sure your cupcakes are 100% cool before frosting, otherwise the frosting will melt, and your sweet little cakes will turn into a mess. Even if they feel cool to the touch, the internal temperature may still be hot. Also, make sure your frosting is the right consistency for piping (or even spreading). Too thin and it won’t look right, too thick and it may not pipe properly. A trick I use is that after they cool in the pan for awhile, I take them out and let them cool out of the pan the same amount of time. If I’m rushed, I stick them in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. Not long enough to freeze, mind you. Just long enough to bring the temperature down to a cooler one so I can frost them and not worry about the frosting I put on them getting “deflated.”
I don’t think I’m all that wonderful at it, but I’ve been told quite a few times, both in comments here on the site and “in real life” that I should do a piping/frosting tutorial, and I’m seriously considering it. Considering it as in I’m actually planning it mentally. It seems people have a lot of trouble with it, and I’d like to give them a hand. Because it’s really not that hard, once you get your technique down. I’m no professional pastry chef, but I will say that in addition to making sure your frosting is the right consistency and your cupcakes are the right temperature, the supplies you work with make a huge difference too…
Here’s a list of basics I suggest you invest in:
- 16″ pastry bag – I recommend this size because it holds enough frosting for at least 24 cupcakes without having to refill
- disposable pastry bags – definitely needed if you’re using colored frostings, they’ll dye your polyester reusable bags something fierce
- large coupler – this is what you use to attach the tips to the bags.. duh… although when using disposable bags, this isn’t needed
- offset spatula – important for frosting cupcakes that you don’t want to pipe, or for creating smooth tops on them, like this
- 1A tip (large round) – this tip makes the frosting look like these examples: one – two – three (also it’s good for piping on frosting before you spread it out with an offset spatula, like this)
- 1M tip / #2110 (large star) – this tip makes the frosting look like these examples: one – two – three
As I’ve said before, I have this kit, and it’s a lifesaver. But I realize that many people won’t use the majority of things included in it, and it’s almost $150.00. So you’ll do just as well (and save some money) buying things separately and as you need them. I also suggest that you practice, practice, practice. Buy some premade Wilton buttercream and just practice with the tips on top of either cupcakes you made or even just on a piece of wax paper. Wasteful, maybe, but if you need the practice, you need the practice… so invest in some good supplies (like I said, I use everything Wilton– so I totally recommend them), start practicing, and we’ll meet back here sometime soon for my piping tutorial!