Just the other week, I posted this picture on instagram:
I wonder what I could be decorating cookies for…
Prompting a college friend to ask, are those for you? Lest we all give my grandmother a heart attack with these questions, no, no, and definitely not, no. L and I are still contemplating whether we’re ready for a kitten, much less an actual, live little human. SO, no baby floptimisms in the foreseeable future, but there will be a niece floptimism!
My sister and brother-in-law announced the pregnancy a few months ago, and they had an adorable, intimate “gender reveal” party this past weekend. They asked me to put together some Pinterest-inspired desserts for the big day:
- blue and pink question mark sugar cookies with royal icing
- vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with blue-and-pink swirled vanilla buttercream
- chewy brownies
We also had a full menu of other delicious food, including homemade kale chips, a hemp seed tabbouleh, fruit, veggies and hummus, spanakopita, samosas, crackers and cheese, and, of course, some blue and pink m&ms, because how can you not? Some nutritious foods, some treats; some homemade, some store-bought. It was a simple spread, the focus more on celebrating a new baby-on-the-way and the excitement of learning if blue or pink balloons would pop out of the cutely wrapped box in the living room.
I know what you really want to hear about is the food, though, am I right? So here’s a little run-down of the recipes I used:
THE COOKIES. I will never, ever, not ever
get back together bake a sugar cookie recipe that is not this one from bake at 350. It is simple, pillowy, buttery, rich, soft but sturdy — in short, utter perfection. I always use this royal icing from annie’s eats, though I’m still getting the hang of the proper consistencies for piping vs flooding. I used all-natural, vegetable-based food colorings to tint the icing blue and pink.
THE VANILLA CUPCAKES. There’s one thing I know for sure: brown eyed baker never steers me wrong. Her snickerdoodle recipe is the inspiration for this post, and she has me sold once again on these cupcakes. They’re very rich and buttery, almost like a pound cake, but with a slightly more tender crumb. Also, the directions are little more than “dump everything into a bowl and mix.” Bonus points for simplicity. Do you know what isn’t simple, though? Artfully swirling together two colors of buttercream. That’s a project for another day, mastering the swirl. The bottom line is they tasted amazing.
THE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES. Though the buttercream recipe came from the vanilla cupcake recipe, I used a cocoa cupcake recipe from my recipes for the base of these. The one I tried the day of the party, I enjoyed. I got very positive feedback from my dad. They’re not at all sweet — dense and dark, so full to the brim with chocolate flavor that there’s little room for anything else. However, when I had one the next night after being refrigerated in an airtight container, they just tasted bitter and dry. There’s a chance they just can’t stand up to the refrigerator, or perhaps need to be eaten the day they’re baked. Or, maybe I was tasting them through rose-colored frosting and when the excitement of the day wore off, I tasted them for what they were. I don’t know that I’ll bake them again to see which it is. Take that as you wish.
THE BROWNIES. Last but not least, there are the most amazing chewy brownies by, once again, brown eyed baker. I’m telling you, this woman’s recipes are gold. I didn’t follow the recipe to a T, but mostly stayed true to it, and everyone raved about them. They are like your favorite boxed brownie, only better. They have that crackly top and fudgy, dense centers. They’re rich. They’re wonderful. I didn’t think a humble brownie could usurp my sugar cookies as the most talked about dessert on the table, but these absolutely, completely, 100% blew them out of the water. The cupcakes, a few people tried. The cookies, a few more. The brownies? Demolished. Gone. Out of I think 70 little brownie bites, there were maybe 10 left. If you’re in the chewy/fudgy camp of brownie lovers (is there really any other camp? I don’t know if we can be friends. I’m kidding, of course. More or less.), you have to make these.
And that’s that! Another big congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law, who will make wonderful parents to a beautiful baby girl in just a few short months! The party was a fun excuse to gather together with friends and family, eat delicious food, and celebrate…and practice my buttercream swirling technique!