Forget Cupcake Wars.
The event I recently made a cupcake display for was THE biggest event of the year. No, it wasn’t the Rose Bowl. It wasn’t Beyonce’s baby shower.
It was my baby sister’s Sweet Sixteen.
Very unlike 16-year-old me, my baby sister is very much the popular girl. She’s involved in student government, a couple of honor societies, soccer, softball, Girl Scouts… I could go on forever. Needless to say, there would be many, many people at her milestone birthday party.
It was decided early on –namely, her 15the birthday- that this would be a family affair. My husband, brother, grandma, and a family friend would do the cooking. My brother and I would be in charge of the cake. He’s got a little side business doing cakes so our combined forces should have been able to make something fabulous enough.
The theme of her party was a tough one to figure out. She and my mom had ideas of a winter wonderland (she was born on Christmas) or the Wizard of Oz (her favorite movie) or neon green (the obnoxious color of her room.) She finally came to an idea by November for her January fiesta- the musical Wicked.
This theme was a perfect choice: the glitz and glamour of the Emerald City, the green-ness without inducing nausea, the fact that the Christmas season was upon us so green decor would be readily available. The best reason for me (and she probably hates me for it): my sister is the Glinda to my Elphaba. As soon as the soon-to-be Witch of the West and the bubbly Northerner met when we went to see the show together, I turned and looked at her in that holy-crap-this-is-us way. I was the “unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe…” girl and she is, as Elphie so eloquently puts it, “Blonde.”
So I got to work. I got up a game plan and sent her my ideas. We agreed on 3 cupcake choices and a simple display concept. My brother decided on 2 cake flavors for a small 2-tier cake to top off the display. For weeks prior to the event, I ordered edible bits and decor, perfected recipes and hit the craft stores. Then in the week prior to the event, I kicked it into high gear, invoking my inner Cupcake War-rior.
In the great tradition of things acting bizarrely in my kitchen, the candy set way faster than the laws of the thermodynamics should have allowed so the glitter didn’t stick to anything but my fingers.
I had to use a blow dryer to slightly re-melt the pieces, a few at a time, to get the glitter to stick.
That same night, I got my very own carpenter.
Chef Hubby traded in his chef’s jacket for a drill and wood glue and built a handy-dandy, re-useable cupcake display. He then helped me cover it with some coordinating fabrics.
At T-minus 24 hours, I baked like I had never baked before (OK not really because I’ve gotten used to large orders by now) – Nigella Lawson’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cake recipe from her How To Be a Domestic Goddess, a super basic yellow cake, and the Ultimate Vanilla cupcakes from Cupcake Project (because it is only THE best vanilla cupcake, oh, ever!) My brother baked, rolled out pristine sheets of fondant and played with concoctions of vodka and glitter.
The morning of, I frosted like a mad-woman, covering the kitchen at the event venue with a dusting of powdered sugar. Nonpareils flew everywhere. Debates were had over the edibility of isomalt. Red and green glitter covered all of our hands. By 4:30, me and the family had finished.
We all went home, got in our party clothes and had a grand old time celebrating my amazing little sister who is not so little anymore!
Happy Birthday to Moo!