Growing up in a large family had its advantages around the holidays. We never did things small. We colored dozens of eggs at Easter, had Easter Egg hunts out in the back yard, Easter baskets filled with candy, new clothes, and a huge dinner – ham if we were at home, and roasted leg of lamb if we were at Aunt Phoebe’s and Aunt Dolores’ house.
Aunt Dolores made the absolute best leg of lamb. And the best lamb gravy – neither of which I’ve ever been able to replicate. It was always a bone-in leg as “boneless” didn’t exist for anything back in those days. And what a difference in flavor it made.
The rose-colored glasses definitely come on when I think about those days. Reality was we were usually fighting with one another, getting each other in trouble if we could, and generally causing mayhem when-and-wherever we could. There was never a dull moment around our house.
I have to admit I miss all that chaos now and again. For all the yelling and fighting, there was also a lot of fun and laughter – not to mention conspiracy as we tried to figure out how to get away with something without my mother finding out. We probably failed more times than we succeeded – but we did succeed now and again. And then there was watching Easter Parade and eating homemade fudge with mom on those nights we were actually behaving ourselves. It was a great time to be a little kid.
Fast-forward 50 years or so and three of the six are heading to Sicily together for 2 weeks in May. I can only imagine the international incidents we could cause if we put our minds to it. We’ve gotten older. We haven’t necessarily matured. Not to mention that our spouses are just as bad as we are. Who says opposites attract?!?
So missing those thrilling days of yesteryear, we also missed our annual Egg Dying and Pizza Party we’ve had every year on Saturday night before Easter since we moved east. Traditions end, but the memories linger on…
So… with a relatively-free evening, I made cupcakes. I saw a recipe in the Betty Crocker Cupcake Book that really looked fun and decided it would make a nice addition to whatever desserts are being planned for dinner today. One can never have too many desserts, says I.
The actual concept is a bit different than what I did, but the cupcakes, themselves, were pretty much as written.
Betty’s Sunflower Bouquet
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 5 egg whites
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. Beat butter about 30 seconds to lighten. Add sugar, about 1/3 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping bowl, as necessary. Add egg whites 1 at a time and mix well after each addition. Add vanilla, and then add flour alternately with milk in three additions.
Fill mini muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake 12-16 minutes.
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
Cream butter. Add vanilla and salt.
Beat in powdered sugar, scraping bowl, as necessary. Add milk to thin to desired consistency.
Fit an open star tip (#18) on a pastry bag, and fill with frosting. On each cupcake, pipe 6 lines from the center of the cupcake, out to the edge, making an evenly spaced “spoke-like pattern” on each. With the same tip, start in the center and make a loop by going down one side of each spoke, turning at the edge of the cupcake and following the next spoke back into the center. Repeat ending with 6 loops. Place black gummy raspberry in center of each cupcake.
Place 2 sheets of tissue paper inside pail. Cut dry oasis to fit inside pail. Thread wooden skewer through green licorice. Thread spearmint leaf on skewer and then cupcake. Repeat to make 6 additional flowers. Arrange flowers in pail. Place remaining cupcakes on platter. Store loosely covered.
I couldn’t find green licorice out here in ‘burbia but did get a bright yellow and a bright pink. They definitely looked cute – like something out of a Dr Seuss book.