Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Raising my glass to the End of an Era, with Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Pink champagne reminds me of New Years 2004, when I was still living in China.  A few friends and I bought a bottle of the fizzy pink champagne, popped the cork in the middle of downtown at midnight, and passed it around until it was gone.  And then we danced and laughed and ran all over the city, doing all the crazy, silly and stupid things that we somehow got away with in our early twenties.

That year marked the end of an amazing time in my life, and when it was over, I thought nothing in my life would ever be as good as all those memories that I kept on a pedestal for years afterwards.

As time passed, the memories faded a little, although becoming no less important, just less painful to remember.  I didn't yearn to have those days back like I had for so long.  And with change comes new experiences and new people; taking that step forward and moving back to the U.S. is what led me to a life in Colorado, meeting Jamie, and finding a place in a wonderful new group of friends.

Now it's the end of another era...  my last day at a company I've been with for ten years.  And so, I'm raising my glass, so to speak, with these Pink Champagne Cupcakes, in a toast to the friends I've made over the years and the many things I've learned.

I was also happy to employ some of my newly learned skills from my cake decorating class this month, and each cupcake got its own pretty rose.

A little fancy with delicately piped buttercream roses, these are celebration cupcakes, and I'm celebrating my future and embracing the unknown.

It's exciting, the not knowing, although also a little scary, but I'm hopeful that the right door will open for me.

And that it will be even better than I could imagine, just like before...

Pink Champagne Cupcakes
printable recipe

  • 1 box white cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 1 cup pink champagne
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup pink champagne reduction (from 1 cup champagne - see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Bake the Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Line muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix all the cake ingredients on low to combine, then for two minutes on medium speed, scraping the bowl down once.  Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until pale golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Set the cupcakes on wire racks to cool completely.

Make the Champagne Reduction:
Pour 1 cup pink champagne into a small saucepan.  Simmer over medium low until reduced to a concentrated syrup, about 1/4 cup.  Transfer to a container and cool completely in the refrigerator.

Make the Buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 30 seconds.  Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, then the vanilla and the champagne reduction.  Increase speed to medium high and whip for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Frost the Cupcakes:
To keep it simple, just pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

If topping with roses, spread a thin layer of buttercream over each cupcake.  Use the remainder of the buttercream to pipe roses, using the Wilton 104 rose tip.  You may need to make the buttercream stiffer with a little more powdered sugar if piping roses.

Yields 24 cupcakes.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen