That's what friends are for.
This is going to be long because I have a lot of pictures so I'm hardly going to write any extra words.
I just don't want you to get readers cramp from too much blah, blah, blah.
For the cupcake part...just make your favorite vanilla cupcake but instead of using vanilla extract use the beans from two vanilla pods. Or just use vanilla. I don't know if the beans are technically important but I like the little flecks of it in there.
Fill the cupcake pans a little fuller than usual. Use the paper cupcake liner thing-ys (yes, that is the correct term) but to make them easier to get out and clean up after I usually spray the whole top of the cupcake tin with pam before I put the papers in. This is a great tip to try if you don't already do it. Those baked on drips really come off quickly. My recipe only makes 12 cupcakes so the quantity of icing and simple syrup is based on 12 cupcakes. If you use a boxed mix (24 cupcakes) double everything.
While the cupcakes are baking let's make the simple syrup.
In a saucepan boil together 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup of granulated white sugar. Boil for 3 or 4 minutes until it is thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Set this aside for now. You can use that fake lemon stuff if you don't have real but don't tell Martha Stewart I said it was OK. I will deny it if you do!
Moving on to the frosting now.
Don't forget your cupcakes, though. Be sure they aren't burning.
My Grandmother always made this frosting and called it Wallpaper Paste Icing. It's a weird recipe but the frosting is really light and creamy and yummy.
So to make it here's what you need:
6 tablespoons of flour
1 cup ofmilk
1 cup of granulated "real" sugar
1 cup of room temperature butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
The first think you do is whisk the flour and the milk together. This is not going to look very tasty at this point but don't worry.
Keep stirring this with your whisk over medium heat very carefully. Don't leave it alone because it will burn. Whisk, whisk, whisk. I'm sorry if your arm is getting tired but whisk, whisk, whisk. Don't forget to check your cupcakes. Whisk, whisk, whisk.
It is going to get really, really thick. Like super thick pudding. When you are whisking you will be able to see the bottom of the pan because it will be so thick it will pull away. When that happens, whisk it about 30 seconds more. It will be super thick and not look very icing like at this point. Don't burn your cupcakes!
Dump the floury stuff mess into a wire strainer that you have placed over a bowl.
Smoosh the floury stuff mess through the strainer with the back of a spatula. It's going to be weird. Keep scraping the flour stuff mess off the bottom of the strainer with a table knife. When you're all done smooshing you will have a bowl full of smooth, floury thick white stuff. Put it in the refrigerator. Cupcakes?
Can you multi-task?
Because I have to skip around now because we are waiting for the smooth, flour thick white stuff to get cold before we can finish our icing.
In the meantime, throw the 1 cup of of room temperature butter and the 1 cup of granulated sugar in the mixing bowl. Mix the heck out of it. Keep scraping down the sides. Mix, mix, mix. Scrape down the sides. Mix, mix, mix. Mix this for 5 or 6 minutes. You have to wait for the smooth, floury thick white stuff to get cold anyway. Mix, mix mix. Since you've been mixing a long time now your cupcakes should be out of the oven and cooling.
Now dump the cold smooth, floury thick white stuff into the mixture with the beat-to-heck butter and granulated sugar.
Mix, mix, mix. On high. For a long time. Like 6 - 8 minutes long. Scrape the side of the bowl down. Mix, mix, mix. It might look curdled for a little bit but that's OK. Just keep mix, mix, mixing. Dump the 2 teaspoons of vanilla in there.
And after you mix, mix, mix just a little bit more you will have this bowl of fluffy, not-too-sweet, really delicious icing. Oh man. Where is a spoon when you need it?
And now we are ready to assemble our cupcakes in a jar. Your jars should have been washed and dried. I didn't say this earlier but you probably already knew this. And make sure the jars are empty. Don't put the cupcakes in there with a few left-over pickles. But you know this stuff already. Right?
Peel the papers off the cooled cupcakes.
Get out some preserves or lemon curd. I'm using apricot jam here but you can use strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, lemon curd, lime curd...anything at all you like.
In the bottom of the glass jar drop a little spoon of the icing. You can use a piping tip but when I took these pictures my kitchen was really hot and the frosting wasn't quite stiff enough.
Then drop in a little spoonful of whatever preserves you like.
Now dip the bottom of your cupcake quickly into your cooled sugar syrup.
And then gently put it into the jar. The cupcake should be facing up, just like when you bake it.
Drizzle a little of the sugar syrup over the top of the cupcake.
Spread another small spoonful of preserves over the top of the cupcake.
And lastly pipe in more icing to the top of the jar. I try to spread it to the whole edge of the glass all the way around.
And, voila!, three varieties of cupcakes...raspberry, lemon curd and apricot.
If you are giving a cupcake for a gift, you can put a little label on the top, tie a ribbon around it twisted around a plastic spoon.
I had to take this basket somewhere so I didn't have time to show you that, but you can figure it out, I'm sure.
And look how cute they are?
How do food bloggers do this?
I could have written 10 normal strange posts in the time it took to do this one.
But that's OK.
Because what are friends for?
I'm just trying to be nice sharing my recipe here, really.
I'm not trying to make YOU gain 4 1/2 pounds, too.
Geez. What kind of a person do you think I am? I was only kidding when I wrote that earlier.
PS. If you have any ???'s, e-mail me and I will try and clarify. I tried first baking the cupcake in the jar but it looked all icky in there and you can't get preserves or sugar syrup underneath. The sugar syrup is to keep the cupcake really moist. And I'm not sure why but it is really fun to eat these out of the jar. It feels like your own personal celebration or something!