Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Biggest Baking Project Ever! Valentine's Day Cupcakes with Sugar Cookies

I love any excuse to bake. I especially love any excuse to bake cupcakes.

BF knows this, so he will often volunteer me to provide the baked goods for events we go to, and then he lets me know later.

Last week he came home from work and said "I may have mentioned to my boss that you would make Valentine's cupcakes for everyone in the office."

Me: "How many are we talking?"

BF: "No more than 70 I think."

I mulled that over in my mind for a moment. I had never made 70 cupcakes at once before. It seemed like a whole lot of work, so why stop there?

I said "What if you brought me a list of everyone you work with and I'll make everyone a special sugar cookie with their name on it and then put the cookies on top of cupcakes?"

BF said that sounded like a great idea, and that's how I dug myself a huge hole.

Oh my.

What a lot of work it was.

In total I made 85 cupcakes. 81 were personalized and I included 4 extras in case I missed anyone and because if there's one thing I know, it's that a batch of cupcakes will always attract more people than you expected.

Making treats for such a large group of strangers presented some new considerations from my usual cupcake making. I had to be careful to choose flavours that were widely appealing and to accomodate any allergies. As it turned out, only one person had an allergy and that was to wheat, so I made her marzipan covered cherries since they are quick and easy to make and anything with flour was out of the question. I chose to do plain vanilla cupcakes with a dollop of chocolate batter on top of each one for a sort of marble cupcake. Knowing that the cupcakes were plainly flavoured and that the cookies would be plainly flavoured, I kicked up the frosting a notch, using a pomegranate buttercream rather than something plain.

I made the cookies using the same method and recipes as the snowflake cookies I made at Christmas, sugar cookies with royal icing. Where I was baking such a huge quantity, I decided to use only recipes and techniques that I've used before and loved rather than trying something new and risking making a mistake or an inferior product. I love to experiment, but not when people are counting on me.

The pomegranate molasses in the frosting lent itself best to making the frosting a pale pink, so I chose colours for the cookies that would go well with pale pink and keep with the Valentines theme. I went with purple, white and a bright pink. I reserved about 1/4 cup of each colour of icing to do the lettering.

At first I was a little shaky with the writing (and daunted by the thought of fitting some of the longer names on the small cookies. It took me three tries to fit "Anastasia" on a cookie) but as I progressed, the letters became neater and the spacing of the letters became more consistent. This project definitely increased my confidence in my piped lettering. I used a Wilton #1 tip. The end result was absolutely adorable cookies that sort of resembled Love Hearts candies. I was so thrilled when they were done and they were all perfect.

Once the cookies were done, I started on the cupcakes. I made two batches of vanilla cupcake batter and one batch of chocolate and then combined them in each cupcake. The last step was to frost them and place a cookie on each one.

Here is a close-up of some of the cupcakes so you can see how they looked. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

I didn't have a big enough cupcake carrier to hold so many, so BF brought home some lids from paper boxes and we filled them up. It completely filled three of them.

To make distribution easier for BF, I ordered them by the seating arrangement at his work, separating the cupcakes by team, and then indicating where a team ends by placing a manager's cupcake which had a larger cookie. That way he could easily scan the cupcakes to determine which section of cupcakes went to which section of his office floor.

Amazingly, the whole thing went off without a hitch. There were enough cupcakes for everyone and by the end of the day, there were none left for BF to bring home. I'm so proud of myself for pulling this off and it's reaffirmed for me that I would like to be a baker as a profession. Spending an eight hour day in the kitchen flies by for me. I just love to bake! BF said that everyone loved them and was excited that they were personalized. It was definitely worth the effort.


jomamma said...

I told you that you'd have a shop someday... anyone who can make 70 cupcake WITH cookie toppers could handle having a shop. They turned out very pretty.

Jessica said...

Wow, those cupcakes are amazing :-P
They look like a lot of fun to make and more fun to eat!

Jacki said...

Hi Jomamma!

You know me better than I know myself sometimes, I think!

Hi Jessica!

They were a lot of work, but it was definitely fun!

domifc said...


*claps* Those cupcakes look amazing, well done!!

I made cupcakes with sugar cookies once but it was only for 12 people.

You did an amazing job and I bet they taste great too.

Langwidere said...

These are fantastic! You did a great job - and ordering them by department and seating arrangement was brilliant. =)

Amanda and Zane said...


Are you thinking about opening up your own shop?!

Tamar said...

That was quite an undertaking. I hope your BF totally appreciates you.

Jacki said...

Hi domifc!

I'm always so happy to see you on my blog because I feel like you have encouraged me from my very first bento! Do you post your cupcakes online anywhere?
I would love to see them!

Hi Langwidere!

Thanks :) I'm obsessive about details right down to how everything I make will be received. BF said that it did help though, so my obsession paid off this time, lol

Hi Amanda!!

Thank you for the vote of confidence! I've been dreaming about opening my own shop for the past six months. I think it's going to take me a few years to get to that point, but at least I have a plan!

Hi Tamar,

It was definitely a big job, but I think it was very much appreciated. I had fun doing it, and I also figure it's the least I could do for BF given how amazingly patient and wonderful he has been trying to teach me to ski over the past month (I'm super clumsy, lol). I am incredibly fortunate to be in a relationship where we always take care of each other.