I don’t remember the exact moment when I realized that my true love in food is the sweet combination of butter, sugar, and flour. The fact that my first word was “cookie” may have been telling. My equally opinionated left brain and right brain truly enjoy the scientifically based artistry of baking. I find it therapeutic.


So when my other surrogate family in Boston, L and C, told me they were planning a cowgirl themed birthday party for their soon-to-be two-year old, G, I knew that I had to bake something. Cowboy hat cake! Horseshoe cupcakes! Oh my. These things make me absurdly excited.



And then real life kicked me in the pants and I had to put my creative energies aside to deal with an unwelcome health issue. Thankfully it wasn’t that big of a deal. It killed the all-day-ordeal cowboy hat cake idea but inspired these vanilla bean cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. I needed something that would be easy enough for me to make while on ice and Advil, but that would also give me a canvas to make something beautiful and special for G’s birthday.


G helped, too. She helped me cook, and she helped me remember that mess is okay. I hate mess. Except when it’s in the form of powdered sugar on an adorable toddler.



The cupcakes were a hit. The vanilla bean in the cake added a really delicious element, but the texture of the cake wasn’t my favorite. I’ll save you the trouble and keep that recipe to myself. But the buttercream was Uh. Mazing. I mean, seriously. I took a spoon to the bowl for multiple tastes. You know, just to be sure it was good enough for G. Obviously. I borrowed the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Brown Eyed Baker. She’s created an amazing frosting that I will definitely be keeping on file. But beware, it’s not for the faint of heart. You must have a serious love of butter and sugar.


So, happy birthday little G! And good luck with those two’s, L and C. Let me know when you need the delicious comfort of something spiked baked.