Happy first day of spring! And happy 27th (eek!) birthday to me!
Usually I’ve got a lot to say on my birthday as you may remember from 25 and 26. This year what I have to say is quite simple, and has less to do with birthdays and more to do with the coming of spring.
A few years ago around this time of year at my Bible study, I recall a friend of mine praying and thanking the Lord for the change of the seasons. She thanked Him for blessing us with four drastically different seasons each year, as a reminder that our lives too are a series of seasons. There will be periods of summer where it seems that the sun is always shining and there will be times of autumn that are full of beauty, but also full of change. There will be long hard winters that feel like they may never end, but in His goodness and grace, they will always be followed by the promise of spring. No matter how long, how cold, how harsh the winter, without fail, spring comes again. The snow melts, the trees blossom, and the birds return from their southern migration.
My 25th year was a wintery season. Sure there were plenty of sunny days sprinkled in, but the snow storms seemed to keep coming. My 26th year on the other hand was a summery one. My days were as bright as the weather and things seemed to only change for the better. I have no idea what my 27th year may hold for me, but what I am sure of, is that the seasons will continue to change and that harsh winters will always always be followed by the promises of spring.
Today I invite you to join me in celebrating, not my birthday, but the change of a literal [not metaphorical this time] season. Let’s join together in saying farewell to what was surely the most relentless winter in my memory and welcome the arrival of long days, warm sun, short shorts, and cheerful sunflowers. Can I get an amen?
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with a cupcake. We haven’t made cupcakes around here in awhile, now have we? I’ve been making these Oreo Sunflower cupcakes for a couple of years, but have yet to share them on the blog. They are inspired by something I saw at Brendenbeck’s Bakery on Germantown Ave in Chestnut Hill. I used Ali’s recipe for dark chocolate cupcakes which is one of my go-to’s. They are rich [but not overwhelmingly so], moist, and perfectly spongy. I definitely recommend trying these, but using a box mix would be a great short cut if you’re tight on time. The Oreo frosting is my favorite from my Proposal Cupcakes. Making the sunflower pedals might seem a little intimidating, but I couldn’t find my piping tips and made these with a regular old plastic bad. I swear! No crazy tricks here, anyone can make these!
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 Tbs heavy cream
- 3/4 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 20 mini oreos, crushed**
- 12 mini oreos, whole
- yellow food coloring
**Mini Oreos can be found in a bag near the regular Oreos in the cookie aisle of your grocery store.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for two minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until incorporated, then mix in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the water and buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup. Alternate adding the dry and liquid ingredients to the mixer, then beat on medium speed for one minute until the ingredients are well combined. Divide the batter between the paper liners and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing until incorporated each time. Add the vanilla and cream, then crank up the speed and beat the frosting for 3 minutes or until very light. Remove 1 cup of frosting and set aside. Add the crushed Oreos to the frosting in the stand mixer, and beat again until they are full incorporated. Add yellow food dye to the reserved frosting until a sunflower color is reached.
To decorate the cupcakes, spread each one with a thick layer of Oreo frosting, then place a mini Oreo in center of each cupcakes. Fill a plastic bag with the yellow frosting and snip off a quarter inch corner. For each pedal, squeeze two stripes of frosting tapering them together at the ends. It may look complicated, but I promise it’s easy!
…to changing seasons and year number 27.