Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sweet Vanilla Cupcakes For My Kiddos

Feeding my son can be frustrating.
The nuances of what he's ok with eating vs what he will physically cover his face to get away from can be tricky to navigate.

For example, sometimes he will eat orange goldfish crackers.  Sometimes.  However he won't eat the goldfish crackers that come in different colors- he won't even eat the orange crackers if he sees you picking them out of the multi-colored variety.
This lovely pink-topped confection was for my daughter!

He loves french toast sticks because they're dry and crisp on the outside, but won't touch a soft pancake.  Period.

He will eat yogurt with fruit blended in, but not the kind with even the tiniest of fruit pieces in it.

He will eat a peanut butter sandwich, but only if there is literally only enough peanut butter to hold the pieces of bread together- otherwise it is cast aside completely.

You know how some kids are just picky and will eat eventually if they get hungry enough?

Yeah...this isn't like that.  He really won't eat regardless of how hungry he is.  
Generally when he finds the food offensive he just refuses to eat it- but if it has any topping (ketchup, syrup, frosting...) he will physically turn his face away and cover it with his hands and say something along the lines of, "no....all done...thank you..." until I have given up my attempts.

The "smash cake" from his 1st birthday...unsmashed...
I don't have a single silly birthday picture of him gleefully digging into his cake and coating himself with crumbs and frosting.
That seems like a small thing, I know.
But it's not.
It tugs at the Mama heartstrings.
Several of his therapists over the past couple of years have presented him with cupcakes, with little success.
So I've started Operation Cupcake Therapy :-)

I'm not shoving cupcakes at him daily or anything, but here's the thing- he seems to love the IDEA of cupcakes.  He gets sooo excited!  He just lights up and can hardly contain himself with cries of "Cupcake!"

Then comes the eating part.
He won't actually touch it.
He won't touch the frosting.
He won't let me feed him the frosting.
The frosting just freaks. him. out.

Eventually I remove the frosting (and I do mean remove.  No traces may remain on the plate before he will continue...)

This plain, naked, unadorned, white cupcake- that we can work with.  He's still not thrilled with the idea of touching it.  I think it has something to do with the unsteadiness of the whole thing...not knowing if it will crumble under the pressure of his hand and wind up all over him, not knowing if crumbs will stick to his fingers...autism sure has it's quirks.  

It can take us quite a while of being silly and grinning at the cupcake...moving our hands near it, and then away, having mama "kiss it" to our lips, before we work up the courage to actually pick up a piece.

But finally, he puts a little piece in his mouth.  Then another.  Let me tell you, this kid can put away a cupcake!  I don't mind, given that it's the only dessert food he ever shows any interest in.

Anyway, much like the color issues with the goldfish crackers, I've learned a lot about how to help make his cupcake eating more successful since that first smash cake- see it up there?  It was pink inside.  It was covered with frosting.  It had sprinkles.  lol Of course I had no idea my son would have so many food quirks back then, I couldn't have known.

Anyway, it kills me to buy cupcakes from the grocery store, it really does.  They're so easy to make at home, and I happen to have the most amazing recipe for vanilla cupcakes in the entire world.  I make a batch and then freeze them, unfrosted, for us to play with later.  These cupcakes freeze absolutely beautifully and they really are wonderful- the recipe was actually created by Marianne, a fellow Allrecipes Allstar!

These cupcakes straddle the line between light and dense.  They are sweet, but not cloying.  They are moist, wonderful, and pretty much fool proof.
This is a recipe worth keeping around.  Bookmark it.  Add it to your Allrecipes recipe box.  Print it out.  Just keep it around, because it will likely become your go-to vanilla cake recipe too!

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt (heaping) 
1/2 cup milk 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature 
1 cup sugar 
2 eggs, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with liners.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Mix milk and vanilla in a separate cup.

4. Cream butter and then add sugar a little at a time. Mix until light and fluffy.

5. Beat in the eggs one at a time until light and fluffy.

6. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, starting with flour mixture and ending with flour mixture until fully--but not overly--mixed.

7. Fill muffin papers 3/4 cup full. Bake for 18-20 minutes until top springs back lightly when touched.


  1. Oh, something to bake! I have a great dark chocolate cake recipe, but not one for vanilla! Yay! I can understand the challenges of having a sensory-sensitive son as my youngest as Sensory Processing Disorder...

    1. Ooh! I'd love your chocolate recipe- my daughter made me promise I'd make her chocolate cupcakes next time! :-)

  2. As an autistic person, I have many food aversions. Frosting is not one of them, but the store-bought variety is the worst. Its waxy mouthfeel makes me want to wash my mouth out with soap.

  3. My daughter will go on food binges. She literally eats the same exact thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for months and then will suddenly switch to something else. I know how hard it is must be for you to get your son to eat anything. So when you do find something definitely go for it!

    1. At the moment I think he would be happy if I fed him nothing but cheese pizza and milk! It is definitely frustrating. I think it is equally frustrating when he has a food jag and it ends- when your meal choices are already limited and then he decides he no longer wants to eat something he has been ok with in the past...


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