This year I had a few Valentine’s Day ideas, and all of them, or almost all of them, reminded me of fairy tales. Or stories. All by coincidence. Months ago, maybe around Halloween, I ordered these ballerina toppers with absolutely no idea what I was going to use them for. And then, Pola (my wonderful reader, #1 commenter & all-around awesome friend!) sent me a lovely pink gift:
It’s a pink babycakes mini-cupcake maker, and I love it. What an amazing surprise gift to get! It matches Lola and it basically the cutest thing ever. Not to mention it came before Valentine’s Day… so together with those ballerinas, it inspired me. I decided I’d make bright red cupcakes, top ’em with some thick white frosting, some sprinkles, and then those ballerinas; if that doesn’t say Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what does. Well there are probably other things that say it, but these do too. They also reminded me of that old fairy tale about the twelve dancing princesses.
When I was a kid, I had these little mini-books, European import type things. They were all fairy tales, and one of them was Kate Crackernuts; yes- admittedly a very amusing name but a good story:
A king had a daughter named Anne, and his queen had a daughter named Kate, who was less beautiful. (Jacobs’ notes reveal that in the original story both girls were called Kate and that he had changed one’s name to Anne.) The queen was jealous of Anne, but Kate loved her. The queen consulted with a henwife to ruin Anne’s beauty, and after three tries, they enchanted Anne’s head into a sheep’s head. Kate wrapped Anne’s head in a cloth, and they went out to seek their fortunes.
They found a castle where the king had two sons, one of whom was sickening, and whoever watched him by night vanished. Kate asked for shelter for herself and her “sick” sister, and offered to watch. At midnight, the sick prince rose and rode off. Kate sneaked onto his horse and collected nuts as they rode through the woods. A green hill where the fairies were dancing opened to receive the prince, and Kate rode in with him unnoticed. The second night is passed as the first but Kate found a fairy baby in the hill. It played with a wand, and she heard fairies say that three strokes of the wand would cure Anne. So she rolled nuts to distract the baby and get the wand, then cured her sister.
The third night, Kate said she would stay only if she could marry the prince, and that night, the baby played with a bird, three bites of which would cure the sick prince. She distracted the baby with the nuts again to get it. As soon as they returned to the castle, she cooked it, and the prince was cured by eating it. Meanwhile his brother had seen Anne and fell in love with her, so they all married — the sick brother to the well sister, and the well brother to the sick sister.
Cinderella-ish, in terms of the “ugly” sister & the “pretty” sister, but it also contains pieces of the Twelve Dancing Princesses story, which is a Brother’s Grimm tale. It’s German in origin (there I go again with the German..) and has been used in various adaptations, some of which reducing the number of sisters to 6 or even 3. It’s considerably longer to sum up than the Kate Crackernuts story, but it’s available online if you’re curious. It’s an interesting, magical story & as a child in ballet class, I was a fan of any & every story that mentioned dancing, or ballet.
I’m a sucker for teh cute, & all things retro, and these ballerina toppers fall into both those categories. They also remind me of when I was a kid & I’d get those bakery cupcakes with the thick frosting & the plastic ballerina’s painted gold or silver on top, and that feeling of nostalgia kinda fit in with the fairy tale thing too. These are my version of the twelve dancing princesses.
However, I admit- I made these just to try the cupcake maker, so my decorating job isn’t
the best kinda sucks. But I’ll do better next time, I promise. That’s what happens when you decide to make cupcakes just to use your new cupcake maker & your pretty ballerina toppers.
But just wait until you see what else is going on for Valentine’s Day around here.
RED VELVET MINI-CUPCAKES (from the babycakes cupcake maker recipe book)
Supposedly akes about 16, I got 24
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- a dash of salt
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 ½ teaspoons red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs until well blended. Beat in sour cream. Blend in dry ingredients. Blend in food coloring & vanilla.
- Fill each cup with about 2 tablespoons batter. Bake in cupcake maker for 6-7 minutes (or in oven, for 15-20 minutes) or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
It was really easy to use, although I found one heaping tablespoon was enough to fill each liner. However my liners were a bit smaller than the indentations, so maybe if you don’t use a liner you’ll end up using around 2 tablespoons. The cupcakes baked evenly, rose really nicely (as you can see) and didn’t overflow. They cooked evenly as well. The booklet says to check each cupcake because one part might heat quicker than another, but all of mine cooked evenly. I have to say, I enjoyed using it immensely. It was fun!
There are people online reviewing this saying it’s a terrible appliance; it doesn’t work, it doesn’t bake evenly, it’s hard to clean if you don’t use liners. They’re all nuts. One, it does work. Unless the person writing the review got a lemon or a broken one, they’re crazy. These photos were all taken from the first time I used it. I’m not a genius, I’m not a pastry chef, I’m not a mechanical whiz and yet WOW. Magically, it actually baked my cupcakes! How shocking. I plugged it in and it worked, imagine that. Two, my mini-liners fit just fine, yes they were a bit smaller but what difference does it make? Just adjust the amount you put in like I said above.. it’s not rocket science people. Three, I haven’t used it without liners yet so I can’t say either way, but judging from the removal of the small amount of excess batter I had to clean off mine, it shouldn’t be as hard as they say. It’s non-stick, so basically as soon as it cools, whatever batter is on it, you can just scrape it off gently. Duh. It actually seemed as though the cleanup was far easier than when I make traditional cupcakes.
If you know someone who likes to bake, or who likes cupcakes, this might make a really cute Valentine’s Day gift for them.
Pardon my boring white liners, the only mini-ones I had were white, black with ghosts or yellow with Easter eggs.
And the recipe was pretty good too. What is it about mini-cupcakes that makes you want to eat them all? I must have eaten 5-6 of them, unfrosted, during my little photo shoot here. Anyway, my poor self-control aside, like I said, the recipe was good. I used a regular vanilla confectioner’s sugar buttercream on top because I’m not a fan of cream cheese frosting.
Basically, now I kinda want the donut maker, pie maker & cake pop maker too. Is that bad? Do I really need all these appliances? Will it make me lazy? I don’t know the answers to these questions. All I know is, it’s the time of year when people express their love, so here I am to say: I love my babycakes mini cupcake maker. Thank you Pola!