When my husband and I finished college, we moved to the suburbs and built our first house together. We both grew up in a small town, out in the country, and I think we were ready to give “city living” a try. We built a great first house not far from the police station where my husband works and relatively close to my job. Then, my first daughter was born. She wasn’t even six months old when we realized that we wanted her to have the same kind of childhood we both had, back in the country. So, we moved, again. Today, we live back in our hometown and couldn’t be happier with the decision we made.
Not that there’s anything wrong with living in the city – it was nice to have the grocery store and shopping, restaurants and entertainment just a few minutes away. But we both grew up with a creek in our backyard, with woods and pastures and chickens, horses, and cows. We appreciated the small, tight-knit sense of community that comes with a small town – where the schools are the center of the universe. It’s really nice to know that some of the teachers that taught me are still teaching, and could possibly have my daughters in class someday.
Since this place really is home for me, and it FEELS like home, I don’t think I could ever live anywhere else. So, it’s definitely a good thing that I appreciate the local school district and their teachers. When considering what to make for Teacher Appreciation Week, these immediately popped into my head. I usually have trouble narrowing recipes down and spend days trying to decide what to make. These, though – just screamed celebration!
These are a vanilla cupcake, filled with vanilla pudding. The frosting is a Swiss meringue butter cream. Part of the butter cream is dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, and then another dollop of frosting is piped on top – you need something to hold the cherry, right?
This cupcake did take several steps to make, but I broke it down and just did a little bit at a time. I made the cupcakes and let them cool, then I made the filling and filled them – this part took less than an hour. Then, I came back and finished them off later in the evening, and probably spent another 45 minutes, including chilling time, decorating them. TOTALLY worth it.
And just so you know, when you prepare these cupcakes for filling, you’re going to have the little cores of the cakes leftover. You’re also going to have a little bit of the dipping chocolate leftover.
Don’t throw them away without consulting your husband first. Unless you want to see him cry. (Ok, he didn’t cry. But I think I definitely saw his lip quiver.)
For you teachers out there, I hope you have a great week. I hope you feel loved and appreciated by your students and their parents. You deserve every gift, flower, treat, card and hug you get this week. There’s no way we could ever re-pay you for what you do for our kids every single day.
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 2 and ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Seeds from 1 vanilla bean, optional (I omitted this today, but I usually add it)
- 1 small box (3oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 and ½ cups white sugar
- 5 large egg whites
- 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, cool but slightly softened and cut into 1-Tablespoon size pieces
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla
- Rainbow sprinkles
- Maraschino cherries, with stems
- 2 cups of chopped, semi-sweet chocolate (I used 1 bag of chocolate chips)
- 3 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Beat together eggs and sugar until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Add flour, milk, oil, baking powder and vanilla and beat for another minute.
- Pour batter into lined cupcake tins, filling each tin ⅔ full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes (or use a cake-tester).
- Allow to cool completely, then cut out a cone from the center of the cupcake.
- Discard cones and prepare filling. (For a cupcake filling tutorial, see this link.
- Combine ingredients in bowl, and whisk for 2 minutes until mixture starts to thicken.
- Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until very set.
- Fill each cupcake with a generous teaspoon of pudding.
- Bring a small amount of water to a rolling boil in a large saucepan on the stove top.
- Whisk together egg whites and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Place the bowl of your stand mixer over rolling water (similar to a double boiler) and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy.
- Immediately transfer bowl to stand mixer and whisk on medium high speed until the eggs form stiff peaks AND the bowl is cooled to room temperature. This could take several minutes.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and add butter, two pieces at a time until incorporated.
- Continue to beat the mixture until it forms a smooth, silky frosting. If the mixture is runny or begins to curdle, do not fear - just keep beating until it comes together.
- Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.
- Using a piping bag fitted with a jumbo round tip, pipe a circle or dollop of frosting onto each cupcake. This layer should be flat and almost cover the entire top of the cupcake.
- Put cupcakes into the freezer to allow the frosting to harden (so it doesn't melt when dipped.)
- While cupcakes are freezing, prepare the chocolate dipping sauce (below.)
- Dip each cupcake into the chocolate, working quickly.
- Sprinkle the edges of each cupcake with a generous amount of rainbow sprinkles, and move back to the freezer to allow the chocolate to harden.
- Change the tip of your piping bag to a jumbo, closed-star tip.
- Pipe a small dollop on the top of each cupcake and top with a maraschino cherry.
- Combine oil and chips in a microwave safe bowl.
- Heat for 30-60 seconds or just until chocolate begins to melt and soften.
- Stir until smooth. (You may also use a double boiler.)
- Do not overheat chocolate, heat it for 30 seconds and then 10 seconds at a time until desired consistency is met.
- Store finished cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.