This past weekend, we hosted a few of Quinn's friends and their parents to celebrate three years of Quinn. It's hard to figure out who to invite to a three-year-olds party in a neighborhood we just recently moved to, especially when said three year old is just as likely to tell you that his favorite friend is Curious George as he is to give you the name of an actual child. We decided to keep it small and very low-key. That said, it's still hard to be completely removed from the idea that every landmark occasion in your child's life is an opportunity to dazzle and create a momentous experience.
A few searches of the web for activity ideas confirmed my general belief that I'm not as natural a parent as some (ie the thought of leading a rousing game of duck-duck-goose or musical chairs filled me with dread). So, I was a bit concerned as to what exactly I would do with 6 or 7 three and four year olds. Originally the plan was to just have one or two kids for pizza and cake, but after I invited a few additional folks, I was starting to feel the need for some activity.
For anyone who finds themselves in the same position, I have two words for you - Bouncy House - Best money I ever spent. Kids bounced happily (with just a few teary eyes after the inevitable crashes) and parents were able to drink wine and beer. I couldn't ask for much more from a party.
As I was feeling a bit under the weather, I originally thought I would purchase cupcakes at the store, but when it finally came down to it (ie when I was staring at the cupcakes in the plastic containers at Whole Foods) I couldn't pull the trigger; my food-snob ways won out and I decided to try out two new recipes. I'm still struggling a bit with adjusting for the altitude when I bake, but I think both of the recipes turned out fairly well.
The recipes both came from the How to be a Domestic Goddess cookbook. Sadly, I forgot to take photos, but the recipes are below. These were both so incredibly easy, I'm glad I put in the effort. Also learned a good cooking trick - I forgot to pick up confectioners' sugar at the market, but it turns out that you can put regular sugar in the blender and make your own confectioners' sugar.)
Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes (recipe says it makes 12, i ended up with about 15)
- 1/2c soft unsalted butter
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, in pieces (I used Dagoba dark chocolate chips)
- 1-1/3 c morello cherry jam
- 1/2 c sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 lg eggs, beaten
- 1 c self rising cake flour (I had regular cake flour, so i added 1-1/2 t baking soda and 1/2 t salt)
melt butter in pan, when almost melted add chocolate. Take off pan after chocolate is softened. Then stir until smooth and melted. Add jam, sugar, salt, eggs. Stir til ingredients are well blended. Then add flour. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. cool in pan rack for 10 min.
Icing: Heat 4oz bittersweet chocolate and 1/3 c + 1 T heavy cream in saucepan. Bring to boil, then remove from heat and whisk til smooth. Recipe calls for topping with 12 natural-colored glace cherries which I didn't find at the market and didn't seem to critical to the 3 year old crowd that consumed these.
Night and Day Cupcakes
- 2 T cocoa powder
- 2 T boiling water
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1/4 c dark brown sugar
- 3/4 c self-rising cake flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c very soft unsalted butter
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 T milk
Mix cocoa and water to a paste. Mix sugars, flour, eggs, butter and vanilla in foot processer. Then pulse while you add milk and cocoa mix through funnel. 12 cupcakes at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. leave in pan 5 minutes, then cool on rack.
Frosting: 1-1/3 c confectioner sugar, sifted, 4 oz cream cheese, 1 T lemon juice:
Beat sugar and cream cheese til soft, add lemon juice to taste.
(I added a splash of vanilla to the frosting.)