Monday, November 21, 2011

Cupcakes with Friends @sweetpeonyblog

When I was in 2nd grade, my best friend was a adorable girl named Nicole.  I always thought she had the prettiest hair and clothes, and it really surprised me that she wanted to be my friend!  We braved the playground together daily, and I am sure we shared many secrets.  We remained best friends through 3rd grade, until Nicole's family moved away from Korea, as military families tend to do.  From then on, we stayed in touch through letters... move after move, as our handwriting improved each year, we were loyal pen pals.  But then, through no fault of either of us, the letters just stopped.

I'd always wondered what Nicole turned out to be like as an adult.  My Mom would sometimes ask me, "Are you still in touch with Nicole?"  Randomly, after college, I decided to search for her on Facebook... and after looking through tons of photos, I finally found her.  I knew it was her!  Turns out, she'd gone to college in Georgia, even gotten married in Savannah at a beautiful mansion I drive by frequently.  We'd had these entire lives apart, but it was so cool to reconnect and look at photos online of each other.  How neat to see how these little girls turned out!  To this day, it is my favorite Facebook connection story.

Nicole has a gorgeous baking blog, Sweet Peony... and my favorites are her cupcake recipes.  Even though I haven't seen her since we were little kids, I feel connected to her because we both share this love for making sweet goodies!  Wanting to take some cupcakes to work, I decided to make her Brown Sugar Cupcake recipe...  as I baked, I thought about how at some point, she had gone through the same exact steps.  (It was a very Julie & Julia moment!)  Maybe someday we'll get to bake a little together.  :)

Brown Sugar Cupcakes by Nicole at Sweet Peony
makes 12 cupcakes

My decorations are from Walmart!
For the brown sugar crumble:
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold & cubed

For the brown sugar glaze:
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water

For the cupcake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cupcake pan with liners.

To make the crumble:  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients using a fork, pastry cutter or your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

To make the glaze:  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until smooth.  Set aside.

To make the cupcake:  Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until lightened in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Lower speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping the bowl as needed.  Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the milk and mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.  Top with the brown sugar crumble & lightly press the crumble into the batter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Poke holes in the tops of the cupcakes & spoon on the brown sugar glaze (some might drip down the sides but that’s okay).  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frost and decorate as you wish!  (*Note from Aubrey, I sprinkled Cinnamon-Sugar on mine!)


  1. Such a cool connection. Love that you both still share interests even with a 20 year gap in your relationship. Cheers to reunions!

  2. awwww aubrey, this is so sweet! it is definitely my favorite facebook connection story too :) it's so funny how things worked out for us to find each other after so long. my mom was always asking about you too! anyways, after facebook stalking & reading through your blog, i KNOW that we still have tons & tons in common... if we only lived closer!!! i'm so happy to be friends with such a kind & caring girl. i can't wait until we can visit with each other & bake together :)

    by the way, your cupcakes look gorgeous! i'm really excited that you made the brown sugar ones- they're a new favorite of ours. thank you for mentioning my blog too :)

    well, my long-lost friend, here's to continuing our friendship, re-kindled by the magic that is social media! xoxo- nicole

  3. Nicole, here's to the NEXT 20 years! :) It would make a cute Disney show, right?

    I hope I get to see you in December.


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