An early Valentine’s Day treat

Whoever first came up with the idea for cupcakes was a complete genius.  Not only are they adorable and even cuter when you shrink them down to mini-cupcake size, but they really help with portion control.

When there is a cake around my house, I am the queen of cutting off a little bite of it everytime I walk into the kitchen.  In my mind I think “oh, it’s only a small taste.” But in reality, those “small tastes” probably add up to at least two pieces of cake per day.  And no matter how you spin it, “everything in moderation,” “just this once,” etc… two pieces of cake per day is very hard to justify.

The cupcake is perfect for solving this problem. I get everything I love about a cake, and I no longer am able to sneak tiny slices throughout the day.  Cutting a cupcake into tiny slices and leaving it would just be sad and wrong. I know better.  So, at the end of the day, after a nice, healthy dinner, I get to enjoy a cupcake that hasn’t been casually hacked at.

I sense I am not the only one with the “it’s just a small slice” issue. If you find yourself in the same boat as me, sailing down a buttercream river, stop. Abandon ship. Converting your cake recipes into cupcake recipes couldn’t be easier. In fact, all I change on my recipes is cook time.

I personally think these cupcakes would be ideal for your honey on Valentine’s Day… hence the heart sprinkles.

Italian Cream Cupcakes
Modified from this recipe

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1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup crisco
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut flakes
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1-8 ounce package cream cheese
1/3 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp half and half
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, sugar, and crisco.  Add egg yolks one at a time, reserving egg whites in a separate bowl. Mix yolks into sugar mixture after every addition.

In another bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.  Once sifted, gradually add in 1 cup to the sugar mixture. Blend. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk. Blend. Add remaining flour mixture. Blend. Add remaining buttermilk. Blend. Add vanilla and mix together.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and peaks have formed. Once stiff, fold into the batter. When combined, stir in coconut and pecans. I like to run my coconut through a food processor to help alleviate the coconut texture so many people struggle with.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling liners about 3/4 full. Bake for about 26 minutes, until cupcakes are a light brown.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare the icing.  Cream together cream cheese and butter.  Add in powdered sugar, half & half, and vanilla. Mix together, adding more powdered sugar if necessary. Stir in coconut and pecans.

Ice cupcakes when cool.

Try not to eat all the sprinkles before they make it on the cupcakes…

Like I mentioned, I think these would be great for Valentines. But I like to leave a few not iced to have as more of a muffin.  Either way, they are delicious.

For those following the Wilson story, I got a message earlier today that the family we met would like to adopt him. As always, this is very bittersweet for me. I couldn’t be more than thrilled with the family; I think labs and kiddos go hand and hand. But, boy will I miss Wilson.  If you remember, Wilson was the dog I rescued literally ten minutes before he was to be put down back in September.  He was a little rough around the edges when I got him and definitely in need of a little training, but I knew he would make the perfect dog for somebody. Looking at pictures of Wilson now, it is hard to believe he is the same dog. He came to me dirty, really skinny, and with a bunch of green paint down his nose. Now he has one of the shiniest coats I’ve ever seen with no signs of green paint. Sure he could stand to gain a few pounds, but I would say he is a pretty handsome guy.  Wilson getting adopted will leave quite a space in my heart and I know I will miss laughing at all of his crazy antics. But, I also know there are so many other dogs out there that are in need of rescue, and now I’ll get to save one more.

If you’ve ever thought about fostering a dog, but decided not too because you “wouldn’t be able to give him up” or “would be too sad after they left,” I ask you to reconsider.  If it is something your even remotely interested in, please email me. I would love to talk to you about my experiences and how many dogs I have rescued.  Sure, I cry after every dog gets adopted (ok, most dogs, there was one in particular that I was ready to have leave). Yes I feel sad, and yes it is hard. But that feeling goes away so quickly when you realize you get to help another dog.  And the feeling that comes when you get to save a dog? Well, it is one of the best.

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