Today is the second birthday of my kids’ pet guinea pigs. Who cares, you say? I certainly don’t but my kids think it’s quite the reason to celebrate so we are having a party. My daughter went ahead and created invitations using Smilebox , a for-fee service that allows you to create all kinds of custom made cards and invitations. We’ve been having fun using it and it makes this sort of thing, well, easy enough for a child.
Unfortunately I will be at work when my kids come home from school, so I won’t be there to join in the fun. Last night I was too exhausted to bake the cupcakes or “bug cakes” my daughter begged me to make, using our bug cake pans that I bought several years ago and have used exactly once. Also, I wanted to do something with the gorgeous organic blueberries that I had in my fridge.
Well, one of the guinea pigs is named Muffin isn’t it? Isn’t it? or is it Sherbert? It has in fact changed its name more times than Prince, but for today, it will be Muffin, therefore we will have Blueberry Muffins! I woke up extra early to bake these, yet when my daughter awoke, she seemed despondent. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “What happened to the bug cakes? And there are no balloons.” I reminded her that I actually made the effort to get the plastic cups and plates  and that I was going to make the muffins extra special. She seemed okay with all of that and sort of wearily trusted me.
Normally I would glaze a Blueberry Muffin with Lemon Icing. This is one of my absolute favorite treats. But fearing this wouldn’t appear decadent enough, I decided instead to drizzle the muffins with caramelized honey and then wedge the tops with white chocolate chips and golden sprinkles. Basically whatever I could find in the cupboard that seemed to go together. But it actually really worked! The cupcakes, er muffins, look great and can pass as sort of festive!
Bill’s Bees makes a great caramelized honey 
It actually had me thinking of a few last minute variations on toppings and cupcake rules in general.
- First of all, the kids don’t really care about the cake, so don’t sweat this part. Either make it healthy, like I did, in hopes that they’ll eat it, or make something basic. The focus here is what’s on top. Healthy ideas for the cupcake part include using Blueberry Muffins, Whole Wheat Raisin Bran Muffins, Carrot Cake Cupcakes, Zucchini Cake Cupcakes.
- If you have the time, you can make a really simple cream cheese frosting and color it with all sorts of natural colorings like: a few drops of pomegranate juice, juiced strawberries or blueberries, or you can zest some lemon or orange into the cream cheese to give it a zingy flavor.
- If not, use honey, Nutella, or if you have any jars of caramel or chocolate sauce from a work Christmas basket someone sent you three years in a row (I in fact have an entire shelf of this stuff), here is a good time to break it out. That’s a real last minute move as normally I prefer to use all-natural ingredients
- Finally, dress up the top of the frosting with some shaved chocolate, toasted walnuts (if making Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting), finely chopped dried fruits, maple sugar, or cinnamon sugar.
Remember, it’s all in the presentation. Phew. Can I go to work now???
Basic Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Icing
- 2 cups all purpose flour (or feel free to mix in a little whole wheat flour instead)
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs or 3 medium eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 cups blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Sift the flour and other dry ingredients in one bowl . Crack the eggs and whisk  them with the milk, oil and vanilla in another large bowl . Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together until JUST combined. Do not overmix and use a spoon, not an electric mixer. The mixture will be lumpy! Add blueberries, as many as you want, and fold together.
Pour into a 12 portion, lined muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and let sit for 2 more minutes before removing the muffins from the pan  and placing on a cooling rack.
Place a baking sheet  under the cooling rack so when you drizzle the icing, it doesn’t go all over the counter. Allow the muffins to cool before you ice.
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- freshly squeeze lemon juice
Mix the sugar and lemon juice together until a smooth icing forms. You will probably need about 2-4 tablespoons.
Rosemary Maggiore is our Last Minute Lady. A single mom of two kids plus a full time job (she runs this website!) keep her busy and usually pushing things to the last minute. Somehow she manages to keep her cool and her sanity while she enjoys good food, wine, friends and most importantly, family.
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