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I was going to post about the non-edibles I get from my garden. You know, the flowers, rocks, twigs, weeds, etc. And what I did with them. Sort of a craft post. But the little cheff reminded challenged me to show my cupcake decorating skills. An old obsession of mine, specifically when the kids were younger, and birthdays were all about the cakes and the cupcakes.

Plus I happened upon this.

huge zucchini

I think it’s universally agreed that overgrown zucchini is best added to baked goods. So there ya go, my Zucchini Hydrangea Cupcakes.

hydrangea cupcake2

The Cake
It’s very hard to tell you how many cupcakes this recipe will make, since I made them in 3 varying sizes. I will guess about 16 regular sized muffins. This is an old recipe I copied off a magazine. What magazine it was, I can’t remember.

1½ cups sugar
½ butter, softened
¼ cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed dry (also great with shredded carrot.)
½ cup-1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped nuts or coconut flakes

1. Pre heat oven to 375°F. Line muffin pan with paper baking cups.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, oil, vanilla, and egg. Beat well.
3. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and buttermilk, blend well.
4. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and nuts.
5. Fill paper-lined muffin pan 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean.

These cupcakes were baking a little unevenly for me, meaning one side rose higher than the other. Maybe 375°F was too hot. If you know your oven well, adjust the temperature accordingly. Or maybe I didn’t mix the ingredients well enough, since I was rushing. But that’s okay, I just cut off the part that rose too high. I was going to put icing on them, anyway. Plus the cut off bits and pieces gave me something to snack on while I was working!

hydrangea cupcake1

The Icing
Makes about 3 cups of icing. Unused icing may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

½ cup solid vegetable shortening (*See note)
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp milk or half and half

1. In a large bowl, beat shortening and butter with electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.
2. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well. When all the sugar has been added, icing will appear dry.
3. Add enough milk or half and half, and continue to mix, until a desired consistency is reached.
4. Add gel coloring as desired (I used green and blue with a touch of red in the blue to give it a slight lavender color)
5. To get that two toned color effect, fill the green down one half of the piping bag, and the blue/lavender the other half.
6. Use Wilton decorating tip #2D for the flowers.

By the way, did you know it was Zucchini National Day yesterday? Me, neither. The story of my life, I’m always a day late. Although in my defense, I did make the cupcakes yesterday. But then I had to pack up and take the kids to another Comic Con, this time in Chicago, so I didn’t have the chance to post until today. The kids and the cousins are having fun at the Comic Con, and I’m stuck in the hotel, blogging. Another story of my life. But that’s okay. I get to visit with all of you.

*Note: If you don’t want to use shortening, you can substitute it with more butter, lard, or coconut oil (all great suggestions by Mary, read the comment section). I’ve made all-butter icing many times and it tastes great! Haven’t tried lard or coconut oil yet.