Since Matilda is such a crazy animal lover, the theme for her birthday party was a no brainer this year. The tricky part was coming up with how to decorate her cupcakes. I knew that lots of cursing and banging would be involved if I tried to frost them with animal faces, so I was hoping for some kind of topper. After looking at tons of plastic animal options, or even some ugly candied critter options in online bake shops, luckily I found my inspiration on Flickr.
While all the cupcakes tasted equally delicious, I think the giraffe was my favorite, with the lion a strong second. In the end I had to bribe Sarah & Gaurav to come take the extras away so I would stop my 2-cupcake-a-day binge.
Basic Chocolate Cake (or in this case Cupcakes)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 ounces unsweetened (aka bittersweet) chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. Beat butter with mixer on high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beat till well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in chocolate and vanilla. Add dry mixture and 1 1/4 cups water alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low after each addition until just combined.
3. Pour batter into greased and floured pans. Bake in 350 degree oven until wooden toothpick comes out clean. 30-35 minutes for cake, 15-20 for cupcakes. Cool on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat together 6oz softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup softened butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually add 2 -2.5 cups more powdered sugar until you reach a spreadable consistency. Try to refrain from eating too many spoonfuls straight from the bowl.