Sunday, February 28, 2016

Harold and the Purple Cupcakes

One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight."

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson was written in 1955! I'm not the only one who didn't realize this, right? It's one of my favorite children's books, and as it turns out, it's been a favorite of a lot of other people too, for quiet a while. It'S probably the simplicity of the story that makes it a favorite for me.

Armed only with an over-sized purple crayon, 4-year-old Harold draws himself an adventure--from exploring a forest with only one tree (so he doesn't get lost--great forward thinking for a boy of his age) to sailing in a tiny sailboat on a purple ocean. He gets himself in a few tight spots, but manages to keep his wits about him all the while.

The cupcakes had to be purple, obviously. But in the spirit of childhood, I also decided to incorporate another favorite from when I was a kid.


I hope you're all just as excited as my friend Jennifer was when I told her.

These cupcakes are just as simple as the book. Basically all I did was add some grape kool-aid to the my cake mix and called it a day! Next time, I'll probably use a little more grape to make the flavor stand out a little more, but these are still pretty good--it's hard to mess up when you're starting with boxed cake mix.

Harold and the Purple Crayon: 5 stars
Grape Kool-aid cupcakes: 4 stars

1 box of white cake mix
1/2 cup kool-aid drink powder, grape flavor
Additional ingredients from the box of cake mix; eggs, milk, butter, etc.

1. Mix together white cake mix and 1/2 cup kool-aid powder
2. Follow directions on your cake mix box, whisking in the other ingredients.
Note: You can add purple food coloring here to get the desired shade of purple.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes before you place them on a cooling rack.

"There wasn't any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight."

"So he left the path for a short cut across a field. And the moon went with him."

"The sandy beah reminded Harold of picnics. And the thought of picnics made him hungry. So he laid out a nice simple picnic lunch."

"He remembered where his bedroom window was, when there was a moon. It was always right around the moon."

Happy baking, everybody!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Galentine's/Valentine's Day!

"Love is never any better than the lover." --Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
Happiest of Galentine's/Valentine's Day to you! Single, married, or cynical, I hope you're having a fabulous day.

If not--don't worry! Not only am I about to blow your mind with these red wine chocolate cupcakes, but I've also gathered a few of my favorite quotes about love, relationships and the "human condition." There are quotes here for everyone from the sad and lonely to the desperately in love to the people who find themselves somewhere in between.

Growing up, my parents always celebrated Valentine's Day with my sister and I. Some couples might think that's really lame. After all, Valentine's Day is supposed to be romantic. But I think waking up every Valentine's Day to a table full of candy--one for my mom, one for my sister, one for me--has made me a little bit of a sap for this day.

It doesn't matter who is in your life currently. Take the opportunity to tell them how awesome they are.

As my dad would say, "Go hug a neck."

(Recipe and instructions for the cupcake bouquet follow the quotes and pictures!)

"If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he was annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger." --Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

"Lovers alone wear sunlight." --e.e. cummings

"For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon."
--W.B. Yeats, Selected Poems and Four Plays

"Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings." -- Anais Nin

"For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken. It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack." --D.H. Lawrence

"Lovers communicate not inside sentences, but between them. Passion lurks within interstice. It is grouting rather than bricks." Lionel Shriver, The Post-Birthday World

"Our love of each other was like two long shadow kissing without hope of reality." --Anais Nin

"Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary." --Oscar Wilde

"Tonight I can write the saddest lines I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too." --Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

"Folks, I'm telling you
birthing is hard
and dying is mean-
so get yourself
a little loving in between." --Langston Hughes

"I seem to remember even from when I was very young that when you loved someone you also hated them for making you love them, since loving someone is so incredibly humiliating." --Lionel Shriver

"I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible." John Steinbeck, East of Eden

"I think...if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts." --Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

"We loved each other with a premature love, marked by a fierceness that so often destroys adult lives." -- Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

8 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
3/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (I'm pretty sure any wine would work, but Cabernet works SO well!)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
2. Mix together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Then add in the egg and egg yolk, as well as the vanilla, beat well until combined.
3. Add in dry ingredients and wine, alternating between the two. Mix until.
4. Bake for 18 minutes then remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan.
5. For the frosting, slowly mix butter, powdered sugar, wine and vanilla. Beat until no lumps remain.

To turn these cupcakes into a rose bouquet, I placed a styrofoam ball in a flower pot. You could use any sort of pot or vase, as long as the ball is able to sit securely inside. I frosted them using a Wilton petal tip 104. Holding the piping bag with the smaller end pointed upwards, I made short vertical lines, making sure to turn the cupcake while I applied pressure to the bag. Check out my instagram @books_and_batter to see a video of how I frosted the cupcakes!

Happy Baking, everybody!