Things I learned about myself over the course of this competition:
- I am weird. Not really news to me but this is a new level of weirdness I discovered. My idea of "summertime fun" isn't exactly like everyone else's. Heck, one of my entries involved vampires not of the Twilight variety. Everyone else seems to do normal things like go out to the beach or hit the theater to see a movie with the kids. I suspect I'm part vampire, which is why sunlight and I don't get along, hence no trips to the beach for me. I don't have kids and even if I did I'm not sure I'd go to the theater more often than the three times a year I currently go because I'm so old and curmudgeonly at the age of 28 that I can't stand the other patrons. They ruin the movie-watching experience too much for me. Instead, many of my summertime memories involve being holed up at home in front of the TV or in the seclusion of my backyard garden. Some may call it a sad, solitary life. I call it the freedom to do whatever the heck I want whenever I want while wearing my pajamas because no one's there to see.
- To me it's the little things that make me happy and add up to memories I enjoy looking back on. Something as simple as treating myself to a root beer float once a year on a hot summer day sticks with me as a fond memory. I hope this doesn't make me seem boring to those of you out there with exciting lives filling your summers with action-packed adventures.
- There is apparently one (and only one) way to get me to stop eating cupcakes: infect me with the plague. I caught a nasty cold smack dab in the middle of the contest, which threw my baking schedule out of whack and also left me unable to appreciate the cupcakes when I finally got the energy to bake. :( Most of the cupcakes went straight into the freezer because I didn't want to miss out on sampling the goodies I toiled over for hours. Not as good as freshly baked but better than letting my husband eat them all.
- I'm extremely opinionated about something as silly as cupcakes. The challenge forced me to use an evil cake mix and make frou frouy decorations for my cupcakes, which are things I'd never ordinarily do and duly ranted about in my posts. Who knew I cared so much and had such a philosophy built up about what constitutes a "proper" cupcake? Actually, I have a live and let live about most things that people do and cupcake baking is no exception. This challenge just further cemented my ideas about what works for me in my kitchen.
To recap my fabulous entries (click on the photos for the individual posts):
Week One (Flavor) - Fresh peach cupcakes with mint-infused ricotta white chocolate filling topped with whipped white chocolate ganache and a drizzle of peach simple syrup, all adorned with candied mint leaves
My homage to my flourishing garden and fresh summertime produce. I doubt this challenge would have been half as much fun at any other time of the year if only because of all of the delicious fresh fruit I had to play around with.
Week One Continued - Orange Tea Creamsicle Cupcakes
Ever the overachiever, once I discovered I could enter more than one cupcake I linked these up as well. One of my favorite childhood summertime treats with a grown up flair.
Week Two (Event/Activities) - Eton Mess Cupcakes: Yellow cake filled with fresh macerated strawberries topped with dollops of whipped cream and homemade crisp meringue
An ode to Wimbledon, which captures my imagination and all of my free time for two wondrous weeks in June/July. Incidentally, those also happen to be weeks when the temps start to shoot up so I'm happy camping out in front of the telly taking advantage of the lovely air conditioning.
Week Two Continued - Vampire Cupcakes: Chili-spiced cake with white chocolate chips, a "bloody" cherry pie filling, and cinnamon whipped white chocolate ganache on top
Entry #2 depicting a fun activity I did this summer. Weirdly enough, I'm counting donating blood as fun. This is not only because I felt good doing something to help others but also because the employees at the blood bank were fun to hang out with for the 45 minutes my husband and I were there. Plus I got a free pint of ice cream in exchange for my pint of blood! Yum! (The ice cream, not the blood.)
Week Three (The Dreaded Cake Mix) - Root Beer Float Cupcakes: Spiced root beer cake topped with a rich fudge root beer frosting and a pint-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream
Alright, alright, you twisted my arm and made me use a cake mix for the first time in years. And you know what? It actually turned out well. The spice cake mix combined with the root beer and sassafras flavor created a lovely symphony of flavors and it was all cooled off with that scoop of ice cream. One of my favorite summertime treats in cupcake form.
Week Four (Candy Decorations) - Princess Cake Cupcakes: Sponge cake layered with whipped cream, jam, and pastry cream all topped with a layer of rolled marzipan and adorned with pink marzipan roses
A recreation of the cake I look forward to eating every year for my grandmother's birthday in June. I'd been wanting to make these cupcakes for some time so I'm grateful to this challenge for pushing me to finally do it.
Thanks to Hoosier Homemade for hosting such a fun and challenging challenge!