I helped throw a baby shower this weekend. It was a delightful gathering of happy people and delicious food. Of course, the Bun in The Oven was the star of the show, but I'd put in a Best Supporting Baked Good nomination to the awesome cupcakes. The chocolate buttercream was so heavenly, it inspired a most-welcome flashback, momentarily transporting me to a sunny island in the Chesapeake Bay...

July 31st, 2010, NarBan, (a.k.a. our brother and his new bride), tied the knot, and I had the great pleasure of making 104 mind-blowing cupcakes for the occasion. And since I love you all so much, I am going to share the recipe I used for 52 of those fluted-foil bombs of happiness. I might need to blog about the other 52, and some of the other amzing foodstuffs, once warmer weather arrives. But for now, it's SO not seasonal, it would be cruel. But these puppies are timeless, seasonless, and divine. I hope it brings a little sunshine to you during this cold, cold winter.
NarBan's Nuptial Chocolate-Merlot Cupcakes

1 box devil's food cake mix
1 small box chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup warm merlot reduction (see below)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup good semi-sweet chocolate chips, gently melted

one cupcake, two people

First, reduce 1/3 bottle of fruity merlot with 1/2 bag of tart red cherries (I got mine at Trader Joe's -- probably about 1/2-3/4 cup. It's not an exact science...). Reduce it WAY down, so that you have a half cup of liquid, plus a couple extra tablespoons. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth. Chop the cherries finely and set them aside.
Combine 1/2 cup of the wine reduction with all the other ingredients, except for the chocolate chips. Beat with a stand mixer for 3 minutes. Then, fold in the melted chocolate and reserved cherries. Put into lined cupcake pans and bake at 350 for about 18 minutes, or until a straw comes out clean.

one person, two cupcakes

For the frosting, beat together 1/2 pound neufchatel cheese, 1/2 pound cream cheese and 1/2 pound butter until it is fluffy. Add 2-3 Tbs. of the reserved merlot reduction, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. I also added a bit of food coloring, so that it would look rosey for the wedding, but I wouldn't do that unless you really need a certain shade of pink. Then, slowly beat in 1 pound sifted powdered sugar.

Cheers to love, chocolate, new babies, new sisters, and all the deliciousness of life!!

Thanks to Nancy Ricks Photography for the bee-you-tee-ful pictures! I took the last one. You can tell. Because it is not bee-you-tee-ful....