Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mardi Gras Cupcakes

Kate and I first made these festive cupcakes a week ago for a spectacular Mardi Gras party. With three colors of cake, cinnamon frosting, and sparkly sprinkles, they were the perfect (and portable) substitute for the traditional New Orleans King Cake. We even hid a little plastic baby in one!

(Hold on. A plastic baby?!? Yes, a plastic baby! To read more about this Mardi Gras tradition, click here.)

Last night, I made another batch, but not in celebration of Mardi Gras, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday or Eat-As-Many-Pancakes-As-You-Want-Day. This batch I made in celebration of a very special group of people - twenty-two college students who have decided to spend their spring break on a service trip to New Orleans.

My colleague and I will accompany these exceptional young students as they connect with the community of New Orleans, sharing their love of the arts through teaching and building hope with Habitat for Humanity. It shall be an exhilarating and exhausting week full of friends, fun, and hard work.

As an advisor on the trip last year, I was overwhelmed by all the giving taking place throughout the week - the gifts of time, talent, and self that the students offered the community of New Orleans, and the gifts of hope, history, and heart that the city and its people gave back to them.

As we leave the Big Apple for the Big Easy, I figured the least I could do was offer these young givers a gift of my own in the form of - what else? - a New Orleans themed sweet treat.

For such a spectacular finished product, this recipe is surprisingly simple. Here's all you need to know: Just separate the batter from a box of yellow cake mix into three bowls, add food coloring (for the brightest colors, use the gel variety), and drop a heaping tablespoon of each color batter into muffin cups. Bake as directed. For the frosting, beat some cinnamon and vanilla (no need to measure) into store-bought vanilla icing. Frost cupcakes with an offset spatula or frosting bag, add sprinkles or sparkling sugar, and voila! Mardi Gras madness!

These are for you, NOLA team 2012. Let the giving begin!


Recipe adapted from Sweet Tooth. Makes 24 cupcakes. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.