I and green? Is this deja vu? Surely Christmas must have already passed! I did make these chocolate cupcakes before Christmas; my post is just a wee bit late...

I made these cupcakes for a Secret Santa exchange, and I think they just looked so pretty with their red-and-green-flecked tops. Put sprinkles on anything, and it just makes everything look so much more fun.

I mixed and matched recipes from two sources: the cupcake recipe was from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, which is a book that I've had for almost a year now (I got it last year as a Christmas gift), but have not used nearly enough as I would have liked. The cream cheese frosting was from The New York Times Dessert Cookbook, which I never grow tired of flipping through. It seems as if each time I peruse this book, I always find a new recipe or story. It's an awesome collection of recipes, which I'm glad to have found for only $8 (at Borders, in the U.S.A. These are the kind of sales that I love!).

First, the cupcakes. The original recipe was for a red velvet cupcake, but I decided to forego the "red" part. As a result, the batter and the final cupcakes took on a weird, brown-greyish hue, which looked quite unappealing (or at least to me, it did). Nevertheless, I baked them off and was pleasantly surprised to find that they rose pretty evenly. I always find that whenever I make cupcakes or muffins, they always have a domed top, which was not the case here. While they were cooling, I made the cream cheese frosting. No matter how long I let the cream cheese sit out at room temperature, or how many times I sift the powdered sugar, I always manage to end up having lumps in my cream cheese icing. How do I make it perfectly smooth? Any suggestions to help a fellow human out? I disliked the lumps, but after much whisking and smushing and beating, those lumps still remained. So I frosted the cupcakes anyways. And nobody mentioned anything about the lumps. Or maybe everyone was just being polite.

I baked these on the first day I came back home from school, and it felt awesome. I have to say I've missed baking in my own kitchen.
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