Over the years, little by little, my children’s birthday cakes have become more and more artificial. As we moved from Elmo cakes to 3-D Barbies and re-enactments of Angry Birds sets, I started using cake mix and canned frosting to focus on the art rather than the cooking. I would slave over birthday cakes for an entire day and not want to take one bite of the finished product. The kids didn’t care. They were actually happy. They LOVE canned frosting. Love funfetti cake mix. But it bothered me. A lot.
So for Sophie’s second birthday this week, I went back to my roots, back to homemade birthday cakes, beginning with my favorite vanilla birthday cake recipe. “But Mom,” Bella told me with her tween know it all look, “Sophie is going to be so sad not to have an Elmo birthday cake!” I begged to differ. I knew Sophie wouldn’t love biting into frosting saturated with red food dye to reach that perfect shade of Elmo color. That baby loves two things more than any other food group: chocolate and marshmallows. Chocolate was one of her first words! Any cupcake topped with that combination would be a huge hit in her book.
I was right. And being right never tasted so good. These sour cream chocolate chip cupcakes topped with ganache and mini marshmallows were not only pretty, but they tasted great too. We devoured them and left the table happy, our mouths free of any disturbing chemical aftertaste.
The homemade birthday cake is back. And my baby Sophie is two. Life is very, very good. Now I just need to start working on a non-food dye Blackhawks themed birthday cake. Maybe we’ll just go minimalist and just do a blank cake and pretend it’s the ice before the big game.
- 2¼ Cups all-purpose flour
- 1¾ Cups sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 16 tbsps (2 sticks) of melted unsalted butter
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 eggs
- 2 TBSPs vanilla extract
- 16 ounces milk chocolate chips (8 ounces for the cupcakes, 8 ounces for the ganache frosting)
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 1 package of mini marshmallows
- colored sugar in colors of your choice (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Place cupcake cups in two cupcake baking pans.
- Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and blend.
- In a mixer, cream together the melted butter, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Now add the dry mixture until just mixed. Do not overbeat or your cake will be tough.
- Fold in the chocolate chips (8 ounces, half the total chips above).
- Pour into cupcake cups until the ⅔ mark.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, between 15 to 20 minutes. Place on a cooling rack to bring to room temperature.
- Now make the ganache. Pour the heavy cream and butter in a glass bowl. Bring to a boil in the microwave by cooking for 1 minute increments until it begins to bubble. Don’t let it boil over.
- Break the chocolate into chunks and place in a mini food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this with a knife.
- Remove the hot heavy cream from the microwave. Pour the chocolate in. Stir with a spatula until chocolate is melted and smooth. Let it sit until it cools down and congeals slightly.
- Now spread on the cupcakes using a butter knife or a spatula.
- Cut each of the mini marshmallows in half. Dip the cut part in colored sugar. Put them colored side up on the cupcakes, in a pretty circle to make the cupcakes look like flowers. Enjoy!