It seems everywhere I look lately there’s someone touting their cupcakes made for dogs! Bettie’s Cakes has their “puppie cuppies” that Uschi is quite a fan of. Sloppy Kisses has a wheat-and-corn free cupcakes that Yara can eat! Even Sprinkles has one! Given all the cupcakes I make it’s no wonder that one of the most frequent questions I get asked is about homemade dog treats even though it wasn’t until last year that I specifically made my own “pupcakes.”

Since Yara was first diagnosed with EPI I’ve had a few people call me out for being a “dog food snob.” I’m certainly not the last word on dog nutrition, but I have done more than my share of research and I’m certainly far more knowledgeable on the subject than I was before having a dog with digestive issues. Yet, while I’ve become quite the advocate for feeding raw, I couldn’t help but feel baking for a dog seemed like too much of a fad and I just couldn’t see the point. Granted my pet dogs all had more than their share of people food so making anything specifically for them would have been absurd. Dolly was always so distracted by food that such an effort would have been largely a waste since her allotment of treats was small and infrequent.

Anyway, since I first made them, I’ve had few things be requested more than those pupcakes. So, much to Uschi’s joy I made a huge batch:

"Pupcakes" in yellow liners topped with peanut butter sitting on a cooling rack

As you can imagine, Uschi was very pleased by this. Oh, and no, there was no specific reason they’re in yellow liners other than the fact that I seem to the most excess in that particular color.

For the Record

Because my mother says I never make “simple” cupcakes, let the record show:

Vanilla cupcake in a foil liner topped with chocolate frosting and edged with almond slices

I have nothing against plain or simple cupcakes. I enjoy baking, of course, but since I don’t really eat cupcakes my main enjoyment comes from creating something special. Thing is a cupcake like this one can take just as long if not longer than the more decorated ones I generally show off because piping frosting is a lot faster than spreading it. Actually the strawberry shortcake cupcakes I made yesterday took less than half the time than these did.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

You know how kids turn their nose up to some nasty food and some adult, generally their parents, tell them they’ll grow to like it? As a kid I hated strawberries. Absolutely loathed them. Even the smell turned my stomach. No matter how they were presented to me I just found them terrible. This baffled my family who are all incredibly fond of strawberries and I remember once my father attempted to sway me over to the side of love by rolling a fresh strawberry in rolled one in sugar. It didn’t work.  For 18 years of my life I recoiled at the mere suggestion of a strawberry and then one day my father went strawberry picking and came home with literal bushels of fruit. He gave me the job of washing all the berries and prepping them to be frozen. I stood in the kitchen for hours bombarded by the scent of fresh strawberries and then finally I decided if to give one a try . . . and it was love.

Since then it’s as if a switch has been flipped and I just can’t get enough of the lovely fruit. I don’t even mind strawberry-flavored things, though, I greatly prefer the real thing. One of my favorite things is strawberry shortcake, specifically I like it made with buttermilk biscuits but I’m really not picky about it if the strawberries are fresh and ripe. So it was inevitable that these were going to happen:

Honestly, these smell about ten times better than they look — and they taste amazing! I used my usual butter cake recipe and cut about a third of the cupcake top off and generously heaped some fresh strawberries onto the bottom 2/3rds. It’s topped off with homemade whipped cream since the Reddi-wip in my fridge was expired I still had heavy cream from the mint chocolate chip cupcakes. I’ll never be a big fan of sweets, but this just might be a cupcake I could indulge on.

In other news, the broken shepherd is basically all better now. She hurt her foot during the kitty-sighting at Crossings the other day. As I was trying to wrest her attention back on work, I accidentally stepped on her paw and she scraped up her pads quite harshly, which I didn’t notice until much later when she was limping around. I cleaned off her foot, bandaged the paw and stuck her in her boots for the next few days, but she was given the okay from me yesterday when she took off all her boots and left them on her bed. As of this morning she’s no longer limping so yay for that!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

So, it’s been about ten months since I last baked cupcakes. A bunch of different reasons contributed to this not the least of which has been the intermittent pain issues I’ve been having most of this year. I was also mildly displeased with how the Halloween witches turned out and since they basically went to waste I wasn’t too keen on spending the time and effort on another creation. I have still been baking, but mostly it’s been on-the-fly batches of cookies.

Anyway, what seems forever ago Alice told me about a simply divine mint chocolate chip cupcake she’d had at a bakery in downtown Schenectady. Personally, I think mint is disgusting and I don’t even like it in my toothpaste, but I do like having variety in my baking and am always on the lookout for new recipes to try out. So I halfheartedly promised I would attempt to make a similar cupcake one day. And a few weeks ago I came across this recipe that I thought might actually be worth trying. Rather than a boxed cake mix1 I used a devil’s food cake recipe from Williams-Sonoma and since I couldn’t find any Andes Crème de Menthe chips Alice said she likes chocolate chips I substituted semi-sweet chocolate chips instead.

I have to give Katie Goodman of Good Life Eats a big thanks for her tip on how to pipe a two-toned frosting because it works far better and is so much less messy than the method I’ve always employed where you essentially paint the different frosting colors/flavors onto the sides a piping bag. I still have about a dozen to frost as I ran out of mint frosting. It actually works out for the better because I got interrupted while I was decorating these and forgot that Alice had mentioned she wanted frosting inside the cupcakes, too. Oops!

  1. They never quite live up to baking from scratch and almost all of them have some garbage additives you want to avoid like high-fructose corn syrup. Plus, in my experience, the batter from a mix always has a thinner consistency than a batter from scratch, which makes it something of a nightmare to divide into baking cups.

Favorite Photos of 2011

For a number of reasons I’m rather fanatical about checking stats here, but other than noting new comments I don’t pay much attention to the activity on my Flickr stream. I’m hardly anything above a pure amateur so I guess I never really have cared, but I was poking around the other day and was pleasantly surprised to see that there’s been quite a lot of interest.

I don’t normally do posts recapping the year because (a.) it’s tedious and boring for me and (b.) I usually note the yearly partnership anniversary of me and my current guide dog so it seems redundant at best. But after digging through the 750+ photos from last year I thought I’d share some of my favorites. These aren’t all photos I took personally, though the majority are, just a smattering of the ones I’m particularly fond of.

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