A few weeks ago I blogged about my major cupcake fixation and the delicious-sounding recipes that USA Weekend had recently printed. Last week, I made a dozen of the Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes.


  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbs.) softened butter (I used Smart Balance, and it made no difference)
    1 cup sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (I used Swan’s Down Cake Flour, and it didn’t hurt)
    1 Tb. warm water
    1 tsp. vanilla extract

For once, I followed the recipe’s directions instead of just throwing everything in a bowl and beating on high. First, you beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy — I beat for much longer than I usually do, paying close attention to the consistency (you know, like you’re supposed to) and then, “starting and ending with an egg,” added the eggs and flour. (I wasn’t real precise with dividing up the flour.) Then you beat in the warm water and vanilla.

For the frosting, I decided to make the one on the back of the Nestle Toll House Cocoa Powder box. This is the recipe from the box, verbatim:

  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup Nestle Toll House Baking Cocoa
  • 1 stick butter (again, I used Smart Balance)
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, butter, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract until creamy. Gradually beat in remaining sugar and milk until smooth.

I never sift powdered sugar, mainly because I don’t have a sifter, but it’s never seemed to matter. This frosting is good, but it is rich. Some of the best dessert recipes I’ve ever found are directly from baking companies, like the Reese’s double peanut butter paisley bars.

But wait a minute! you say. Didn’t I just write last week that I can’t bring a half carton of ice cream into the house? Why are cupcakes any different? They’re delicious, too.

They sure are.

I’ve found that  cookies are too easy to eat several in one sitting, and a pan of brownies or a cake is dangerous too because I’ll cut a little sliver here and a sliver there and oh, oops, I’ve eaten a quarter of the pan! But for some reason, for me, cupcakes are too small to pick at and too big to eat several of in one sitting. I don’t bake them all the time — not that I don’t want to, ha — but they’re a nice treat to have around every now and then.

I would love to get the books “Hello, Cupcake!” and the recently released sequel, “What’s New, Cupcake?” and some cake decorating tools, but 1) I don’t have a light touch and my cupcakes would probably look deformed and 2) that sounds like a risky  hobby to pursue.