Monthly Archives: February 2012

Just Monkeyin’ Around


When all else fails, just have fun with it. Awhile back I had a request for 5 dozen chocolate cupcakes for a monkey-themed baby shower, but it was no monkey-business. Let me tell you, baking 5 dozen cupcakes after working all day, it can get rather tiring. You’re feet start to hurt, your back aches, you’re so tired you start grabbing pans out of the oven without the oven mitts. You start asking yourself, “what am I doing with my life?” Then you remember that there is a light at the end of that tunnel and at the end of the day, it’s still something you love. And the best way to remind yourself is to just try and have fun with it.

Thankfully, I had seen this design awhile back for Monkey Cupcakes in one of those magazines that are so carefully placed right at the checkout counter. These goofy little monkeys were just real enough to look like the real thing, but cute enough for a baby shower. It also helped lighten my mood as the midnight hour approached, how can you be mad when staring at these little things, right? So I began the process of breaking the Nutter Butter® (having to do the only rational thing and eat the ‘casualties’ that didn’t break quite right), placing the M&M® eyes ever so carefully, then drawing on some fanciful faces to bring them to life. In the end, the baby shower went great, the cupcakes were a hit, and I learned a valuable lesson to just sit back, relax and remember it’s not always a bad thing to have a monkey in the kitchen.

Want to know we made these? They’re not that hard. Start with your favorite chocolate icing, doesn’t have to be fancy, just smooth as you can. Then the ears were made out of Nutter Butter® cookies that were Oreo®-style split then cut down the middle. The mouth is a Nilla Wafer® with a crew cut, then the eyes are just M&Ms. I used red and black gel frosting pens to add the pupils, nose, hair curl, and mouth details. That was it! Feel free to add your own expressions to help give them some spunk.

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Why Cupcakes Are The Best

Cupcakes Are the Best-01

We’ve compiled our list of the top reasons why we think cupcakes are the best:

1) They Make You Smile
Although the exact number is still yet to be determined, the average consensus is that it takes between 13 and 17 muscles to smile. So if eating a cupcake makes you smile and smiling takes muscle work, then eating cupcakes is kind of like a work out, right? And that’s not even including if your friend gets covered in frosting and you of course laugh. Laughing can potentially use up to 80 muscles. So go ahead, work out with a cupcake and share with a friend.

2) The Messier the Better
They always say the messier a food is, normally the better it is. Well cupcakes provide just the right amount of messiness that you can still eat with your hands, or a fork, or nothing at all if you feel so inclined. Between the moist crumbs and smooth buttery frosting, you’re sure to get a treat no matter how you eat.

3) Portion Control
Or at least their portion control. No more “I just want a bite,” since with cupcakes each person can have their own and you don’t have to worry about the dessert hog anymore. As for your own portion, well only you can decide just how many cupcakes you enjoy.

4) Versatility
Between cake flavors and and the variety of frosting colors available, there’s no end to the combinations you can come up with. Plus you’re sure to find one that fits any event you may be having: baby shower, bachelorette party, even a wedding. The possibilities are up to you.

5) Togetherness
Cupcakes bring people together. Well most desserts do really. There’s a sense of camaraderie and joy that takes over a room when everyone is enjoying a delicious dessert. Unfortunately that joy fades as one-by-one the pieces are cut and you begin to do cake-math in your head. Thankfully math gets easier with cupcakes.

6) Love At First Bite
Last, but not least, they’re delicious. How can you stare at an amazing cupcake and not take a bite? The answer: you can’t. Especially when you make them a booz’ert with that little extra shot of Amaretto, Frangelico or something along those lines. Either way, you can never go wrong with a cupcake.

We know that there are more reasons out there, these are just our top 6. So you tell us, why do you think cupcakes are so great?

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Inspiration Finds You


Sometimes inspiration is  thrust upon you. I recently attended a “Geek Girl Extravaganza” and, as had been the recent norm, I was asked to bring a dessert. Now how could I let pass an opportunity to try out a new recipe idea and support one of my favorite shows of all time? A show that needs all the support it can get since it was cut down in its prime? Well I just couldn’t let that happen.

Enter Serenity Cupcakes stage left. These delicious little delights were chocolate cupcakes filled with a strawberry champaign cream cheese custard, topped with a strawberry champaign buttercream, colored in true Firefly colors thanks to edible spray paint, and topped with sinfully delicious chocolate-covered strawberries. Not sure how many of you out there are familiar with the show, but strawberries were a rare delicacy and personal favorite of the character Kaylee on the show. As an added touch, we stenciled on the Chinese character for Serenity, just like on the ship. Sure enough they were a hit.

So this lesson: never miss an opportunity to try something new. And why not aim for over-the-top, you might be surprised by what you come up with.

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An Introduction

Welcome to the world of 21 & ‘Upcakes. It’s a world for those with a love of baking, entertaining, and the times when they cross over each other. This blog is meant to be a hub for my fellow dessert revolutionaries. Don’t know what the revolution is? Jump on over to the About section to read all about it.

We started this endeavor with just a simple goal, making people happy, specifically through baked deliciousness. It has since grown beyond a simple smile to a near-obsession with all things delicious and creative. So we wanted to share. We are here to provide you tips and tricks in the art, well rather science, of baking and a few insights into the creative process of coming up with new tastes and combinations. As well as the occasional printable to help keep things neat and organized.

We invite you to share your experiences too, what have you found that works or falls shorter than a depressed souffle. Have a favorite recipe that works and you want to share it with the world, or maybe just an idea that you’d like us to give a go at? Tell us, we’re all ears. And who knows, if it works, you may just find it and yourself mentioned in the upcoming cookbook.