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Happy Friday, friends! Here's something that I hope will make you smile - candy lipsticks! Okay - they actually look more like candy Lip Smackers when presented in these lip balm tubes, but with flavors like Lemon Sugar Cookie, Blue Cotton Candy, Green Candy Apple and Raspberry Sugar, I think that's even more appropriate. They are a delicious sweet bite, easy-peasy to make and the perfect novelty for a little girl's dress-up party.

Whenever I'm asked to make cupcakes for a crowd, I turn to this recipe. The cakes are always moist and tender, and if you go the extra mile and fill them with strawberry jam, they taste like they're from a fancy bakery. The recipe yields about 5 dozen cupcakes, and in my experience, leftovers are extremely rare.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you know I prefer scratch-made cakes to box cake mixes. This cake recipe uses a little from both worlds. It uses scratch elements such as flour, sugar and eggs, but it also uses strawberry cake mix as an ingredient. If you're a purist, then this may not be your cupcake. If you're someone that doesn't mind the occasional box mix, and you're looking for a strawberry cupcake recipe that is consistently good, then this may be for you.


I thought it might be helpful to share some of my favorite large batch cupcake-making tools. Nothing too fancy here - just a few things that make my life easier when I'm a one-woman cupcake factory.
  • An ice cream scoop is extremely helpful for doling out even portions of batter. I use this one, which holds about 4 tablespoons of batter and fills the paper liners about 2/3 full. All the cupcakes come out of the oven looking like clones, which is the whole point. 5 dozen uniformly crowned cupcakes is a beautiful sight to behold.
  • I am never, ever without white paper cupcake liners (I know - you may be thinking boor-ring!). They come in a stack of 500 and they're inexpensive. I've recently taken to baking all my cupcakes in them, and if they need a little more pizazz after baking and frosting, then I'll just pop the cupcake in a second colorful or patterned liner. I do this for almost every batch of cupcakes I make for large parties and gatherings. Good flavor is of paramount importance, but don't underestimate the draw of a cupcake with eye-appeal. 

  • Another essential that I just cannot live without, is my 3 dozen cupcake carrier. Actually, I have two. I use them all the time to keep cupcakes fresh and moist. I once saved a batch of overbaked cupcakes just by putting them in this container overnight. It really seals in the moisture and keeps all kinds of treats at peak freshness. The design of this product is so well thought-out I can't help but sing its praises. The inserts lift out and snap into raised cupcake trays for display or you can flip the them upside down and store three 1/4 sheet cakes or 8 dozen cookies- whatever you like. You can snap additional trays on the bottom as needed. I've used these to tote treats to book signings, bake sales, festivals, parties, church functions - you name it, it's been there!
  • It is my preference to crown a cupcake with an extra-large frosting swirl, but that can mean several messy refills if you're using an average-sized pastry bag. I use this 23-inch piping bag made by Ateco. It holds a ton of frosting and keeps refills to a minimum. I also like the grippy texture - no slipping!
  • If I had to choose only one piping tip to use on cupcakes for the rest of my days as a baker it would be this one. No coupler is required, just drop the tip in the bag and press it down into the hole at the end of the piping bag. 


One last note on these strawberry cups -choosing quality strawberry filling is important. If you don't have homemade strawberry jam, choose jams that have limited ingredients. My favorites contain only the following: strawberries, sugar, fruit pectin, citric acid. Some of these more natural strawberry jams may not have vivid red color, so a drop of liquid red food color can be added to make it look more berry-tinted. Also, if the jam has chunky pieces of strawberries, consider whizzing it in the food processor to make a smoother filling.

Enjoy!


Large Batch Strawberry Cupcakes
Yields 60 cupcakes (5 dozen)

This recipe was given to me by a caterer friend, though you can probably find variations of it on more than a dozen websites throughout the blogosphere. She notes to avoid cake mixes with "pudding in the mix".

2 boxes (16.25 oz. each) strawberry cake mix
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups sour cream
2 cups water
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
26 ounces (two 13 ounce jars) strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°F (or 325° for dark pans).
Line the wells of one or more cupcake tins with paper liners.
Whisk together the first 4 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the sour cream, water, eggs and extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer on low speed. Scrape the bowl down and mix again. Divide the batter between cupcake liners filling them 2/3 full. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when pressed in the centers.
Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. When the cakes are cool, cut a divot in the tops of the cakes using a serrated knife. Discard the cut-out, or save it for an ice cream sundae topping. Fill each cooled cupcake with strawberry jam.

Vanilla buttercream
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 to 6 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Milk or heavy cream, optional
Confetti sprinkles

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter until creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar. Begin on low speed until just combined, and then increase to high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes ,or until the frosting lightens in color and texture.
Add vanilla and beat again for another minute. If you find the buttercream is too stiff, you may add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is spreading consistency.

Transfer the frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a large closed star decorator piping tip. Pipe swirls of frosting onto the tops of the filled cupcakes. Immediately decorate frosted cupcakes with confetti sprinkles, if using. Store cupcakes in a container that seals air-tight. If preparing cupcakes a day ahead of time, store them in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving.



Today feels like a good day because I get to show you the cover of my new book! I also get to tell you a little more about what's inside. It's been a long time coming - a whole year in the making - and I couldn't be more excited to announce that Sea Salt Sweet is now available for pre-order!

Are you having a busy week? I sure am, and with all of the prom and graduation pictures in my Facebook feed, I'm guessing some of you are too. Personally, I feel like I've purchased one of everything in the gift bag and greeting card aisles this week. Around here we've had birthdays to celebrate and a Mother's Day brunch to plan, too. It's been a little work and a lot of fun. I love celebrating my special people.

One thing that I love having at any celebration is punch, and lately I've been downright obsessed with it! It's like dessert you can sip. I've been filling my recipe journal with my own concoctions, taking notes on taste-testing and soda-to-sherbet ratios so I can achieve the perfect frothy punch foam on top. This lemon sorbet punch is one is one of my favorites so far. It's light and refreshing, sweet and tart, and certainly on my Mother's Day brunch menu.

Today's post is filled to the brim with many good things!

Mother's day is not far away, so I've teamed up with my friends at Fair Trade USA (along with some other talented bloggers) to bring you a virtual Mother's Day brunch. Who says you can't have cupcakes for brunch? These breakfast-inspired cakes have a little bit of everything: crunchy toasted corn flakes, smooth vanilla buttercream, soft yellow cake and a shot of cereal milk that gets injected right in the middle. It's not just a cupcake, it's an experience!

(The bubble pipettes can be found here. Aren't they just the cutest?)

Spring has given us many brisk mornings. I've been waking up chilled despite the heavy comforter on the bed and two warm little dogs under each arm. It's made me relish that first cup of steaming hot coffee, and it's changed my mood from bright and citrusy to cozy and cinnamon-spiced.

There's a lot to love about this cake. It's made in a bundt pan, which means it's a quick fix. It makes your house smell like a cinnamon bun as it bakes. It is absolutely doused in deep, dark homemade caramel sauce, and it's sprinkled with fine crunchy flakes of Maldon salt. This is one delicious cake.
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