Having a little girl is the best, most fun adventure I’ve ever been on, and I sure wouldn’t trade our little Beany for anything in the world. I happily shop for hair bows, dresses and bunches of pink, and I dare say there’s nothing cuter than our girl in a tiny pair of jeggings. But last weekend I threw a campfire-themed baby shower at my parents’ house for my high school BFF whose expecting a baby boy this October, and I made an amazing discovery: Shopping for overalls, flannel and cool little gadgets is just as fun as pink and sparkles.
Getting in the mood for a camping shindig sans the outdoors was actually a lot easier than I expected. We started with two small Christmas trees flanking the fireplace to kick things off on a foresty note. White twinkle lights on the trees and mantel added an under-the-stars feel, and then we filled everything in with an assortment of camping toys, books, clothes and stuffed animals.
In lieu of the typical baubles on our tiny trees, we made our own ornaments from scrapbooking stickers, a ball of twine and leftover cardboard.
To fill the wall space above the mantel, I DIYed a couple of posters: Sleep Under the Stars and Howl at the Moon. The poster designs were pretty clean: simple photos turned into white silhouettes set against a light gray background, printed on glossy photo paper.
And of course, what’s a baby shower without plenty of food? We put together a theme-filled menu: pigs in a blanket, ants on a log, caramel corn and s’mores cupcakes. Oh man, the s’mores cupcakes (see recipe below). I am a fan. Think graham cracker crust for the base, then a thin layer of chocolate, then a light and rich chocolate cupcake, topped with a homemade marshmallow frosting. Talk about a happy tummy. They definitely took a bit of time to put together, but every campfire needs a dose of s’mores action, right? And they’re worth the effort, I promise. Plus, you get to use a kitchen torch. Or, if you can’t seem to use the torch without catching things on fire, your dad gets to use one. Apparently my fire-handling skills aren’t quite up to snuff.
Oh, and one of my favorite Pinterest-inspired additions to the party was the mason-jar-turned-drinking-glass creation. My dad drilled holes in the lids (Actually, he’d probably request that I specify these instructions a bit more: Place the flat lid on a piece of wood. Make a divot in the center of the lid using a punch and a hammer. Then drill a hole through the center of the lid. Voila!). The holes were the perfect size for our vintage-inspired cardboard straws.
So there you have it. Babies, babies everywhere. Is there ever a better reason to throw a party?
And now, for the cupcake recipe!
Recipe from Martha Stewart
• 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup whole milk
• ½ cup canola oil
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
• 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
• 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• marshmallow frosting (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners, and set aside. Sift together 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl, and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water, and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, place graham cracker crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and melted butter, and stir until well combined.
Place about 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup, and use the bottom of a small glass to pack the crumbs into the bottom of each liner.
Place 2 teaspoons chocolate in each muffin cup on top of the graham cracker crust. Transfer muffin tins to oven, and bake until the edges of the graham cracker mixture is golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and fill each muffin cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Return to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until tops are firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool cupcakes in the pans for a few minutes, then remove them from the pan and let them cool completely.
Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or French tip. Pipe frosting in a spiral motion on top of each cupcake. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the frosting (be careful not to burn the liners!). Serve immediately.
• 8 egg whites
• 2 cups sugar
• ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Place egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.
Have you done any party planning lately? What’s your favorite treat for a special occasion? Any other fun spins on s’mores out there? I’d love to hear about it!