Friday, November 23, 2012

A Birthday Party & Egg Free Strawberry Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Anyone venture out to do black friday shopping?  I think it's fun finding good deals, but I do not like crowds!  5 years ago, on a black friday much different from this one, my boy was born!  Can't believe it has been 5 years.  To celebrate his birthday I am posting the details from his birthday party a week ago.  He is really into Spiderman right now so that was his chosen theme.  

I am super impressed by all the fun and creative party ideas out there! (like Kara's party ideas , but please- don't go over there until after reading my post.  It'll just make mine look bad ha ha)  I love it when things are themed!  :)  I wish I had the money to buy all the cute decorations and props, or I wish I had the equipment to make them (um where are you silhouette?) BUT I feel I did pretty well using things around the house for our party.  It's a simple, home-spun party (spiderman pun not intended) and maybe it'll be a springboard for your parties.

Invitations & Decorations: The invites were just store bought spiderman ones.  We decorated with red and blue balloons.  My son helped me color and cut out pictures of spiderman that we hung on the walls and my hubs made a giant spiderweb on the ceiling over the table.

Activities: When the kids arrived they chose a spiderman villian to color (I had to call my bro-in-law on that one!  I'm not spiderman savvy.)  Then we found a note from the green goblin who told us he'd stolen the cupcakes!  The kids needed to hone their spider senses so we could get the cupcakes back.  We taped the villians they'd just colored onto  "skyscrapers" made out of shoe boxes.  We tied some string to a bean bag (you could use a ball too) and the kids practiced webslinging the string/bean bag to knock the skyscraper shoe boxes over.

Next was the Peter Parker Photo Contest.  The kids had the option to wear a spiderman suit (which, my kids were the only ones who did) and strike their best spiderman pose while I took their picture.

Finally they had to work their way through a web maze climbing and crawling under and over string "webs" without touching the webs.

The green goblin sent another note saying he was afraid of these super spider heroes.  He'd returned the cupcakes and ran away.

Party Favor:
The kids "graduated" from spiderman school and received a diploma with some spiderman stickers and a tootsie roll pop.

The best part right?  I'm finding that while everyone loves sweets, it's nice to have healthy options at parties. Having healthy snacks, like fresh fruits and veggies, also makes it more allergy friendly too.  I've noticed that people don't eat as much when it's just sweets being offered-- ok, with adults, maybe not so much with kids--  Anyway, since our party was in the afternoon I just served snacks but there are tons of fun ideas you could serve for a meal.

I totally had attempted to make red and blue cupcakes with a spiderman web design on the frosting and it was just not meant to be.  So piping the icing it was!

Originally I was going to do "Green Goblin Grapes" but the grapes at the store were all so yucky looking.  So we did "Doc Oc Oranges instead".  You could also do "Uncle Ben's Bananas" or something like that.  I also served "Peter Parker Popcorn" but didn't get a picture of it.  Other food ideas "Spidey's Sandwiches" (and make little ham and cheese or whatever kind you want sandwiches)  "Peter Parker Pizza", "MJ or Aunt May's Mac & Cheese"  "Spiderman Strings" (String cheese)  You could make sunbutter & ritz spider crackers with "safe" pretzels for legs too. 

Now for the recipe.  Pretty much this is the same idea as these strawberry shortcake cupcakes, but I used a chocolate cupcake instead.  Strawberries + Chocolate = BFF.

Strawberry Filled Chocolate Cupcakes
From Egg Free Bakery adapted from cookbook "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World"

1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Strawberries, fresh or frozen
Chocolate sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Mix milk, sugar, oil and vanilla and beat until foamy.  Sift dry ingredients together.  Add in 2 batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny ones are ok).  Bake 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool 5-10 minutes in pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool, cut out a cone from center of each cupcake.  Reserve cone pieces. If using fresh strawberries, chop into fine pieces.  Sprinkle a little sugar over the strawberries, stir and let sit for a few minutes to let the strawberries release their juices.  If using frozen, defrost and chop into small pieces.  Fill the cone shaped hole with strawberries in each cupcake.  Remove bottom portion of each reserved cone piece (the pointy end) and place the top back on the cupcake over the strawberry filling.  Pipe vanilla buttercream frosting (like the recipe listed below) onto each cupcake.  Garnish with chocolate sprinkles and fresh strawberries, if desired.  A chocolate covered strawberry would make a tasty and excellent garnish on top too!  Yield 12-15 cupcakes

Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

1-1/2 cups salted butter, at room temperature (3 sticks)
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 Tbsp heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use clear if desired)

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, using the paddle or whisk attachment whip butter on medium high speed 
(if using whisk attachment whip on high speed) until nearly white and very fluffy, about 7 - 8 minutes, frequently scrapping down the sides of the bowl. Add in powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 - 6 minutes, frequently scraping down the sides of the bowl. Immediately spread over cooled cake or cupcakes.

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