Happy 2012

Happy New Year! The holidays kept me from writing, but I'm back on track now.

I remember those years when New Year's Eve was an exciting night to be with friends, to do ridiculous things and just have a good time. This year, and last year for that matter, weren't like that at all. This year I ended up watching old nick shows on TV along with the country New Years show broadcasting from Las Vegas, and the ball drop in New York, twice.

It was relaxing, I was with a new friend so that was nice. We drank Champagne and chatted, talked to our mom's and boyfriends at midnight, and watched some fireworks being set off way in the distance from her tiny apartment porch. It's all such a far cry from an ideal New Year's Eve, but at the same time, it felt fitting for the end of a turbulent year.

So much happened, and the whole time it felt like a valley. From the worst Valentine's Day I can remember, the loss of a friend and a family member, to the tornadoes in Joplin and Alabama, to graduating, moving away from friends and family, living on my own, and still struggling to find what I want, it was a year filled with accomplishments and major let downs.

So, cheers to the new year, full of new hopes, and a clean slate.

I made these in New Year's Eve along with Shrimp Scampi. I did this because on New Years Day I was going to be eating the left overs and I wanted to make sure it was something lucky and that I wouldn't have any set backs next year. For real, good luck foods is a thing, I did a story about it, look.

As usual I botched the main course a little but the cupcakes turned out amazing. I have one of those things that makes mini-cupcakes. It's called Babycakes and really just reminds me of Bridesmaids (It's the name of Kristen Wiig's failed cupcake shop, fyi), but I swear every single one of those tiny cupcakes was perfect. The only problem is that it only makes eight at a time, but it was totally worth it.

I didn't do the spun sugar thing they tell you to do, I just used gold sprinkles - festive and simple.

For the cupcakes

2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 and 1/2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup champagne**I used a light pink rosé.

6 egg whites

For the buttercream frosting

3 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons champagne, at room temperature

For the spun sugar

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water


1. For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.

4. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.

5. In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

6. Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites.

7. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

9. For the frosting: With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter.

10. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.

11. Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute.

12. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. (Again, I used my favorite, 1M Wilton pastry tip.)

13. For the spun sugar: Secure a long-handled wooden spoon under a heavy cutting board on the edge of the counter, with the handle facing out and extending over the edge.

14. Place newspapers on the floor, directly under the cutting board. (Believe me, you will need them as this can get messy….)

15. Prepare an ice-water bath.

16. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and the water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

17. Stop stirring.

18. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.

19. Cook until the mixture turns pale amber and registers 300 degrees (hard-crack stage) on the candy thermometer.

20. Plunge pan into ice bath to stop the cooking; let cool, stirring occasionally, until caramel registers 250 degrees. ***Be careful. The pan is hot and will steam very strongly when you cool it so rapidly.

21. Dip the tines of a fork into the caramel.

22. Holding the fork about 2 feet above the spoon handle, swing caramel back and forth like a pendulum in long arcs, allowing strands to fall in threads over the handles. **You will most likely lose a lot to the floor below; hence, the newspapers.

23. Let stand until ready to use, then gently gather some of the strands and shaped as desired. **I wanted mine to look like fireworks, so I broke them into shorter fragments.

24. Garnish the cupcakes with the spun sugar.

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