I threw my mom a surprise party to celebrate her big 6-0 last month with my extended family – about 20-25 of us in all. Given her East Los Angeles roots and inherent love for Mexican food, I decided to give it a fiesta theme. I ordered a taco bar style set-up from a fantastic family-owned Mexican restaurant near us and of course a portion of their fantastic mole (mom’s favorite). I made Tomatillo Salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, and three desserts for the party – Key Lime Bars with Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust (sans compote), Aaron Sanchez’s Mexican Chocolate Brownies, and these Churro Cupcakes.
It’s been crazy busy at work the last few months, so I parceled out my time spent on crafting/planning over the course of about six weeks. For decorations, I found a few fun colorful pieces on Amazon that livened up our otherwise intentionally monochromatic home – paper buntings, serapes, festive patterned tablecloths, and pom poms.
Kevin and I also ended up hosting Christmas dinner which was two weeks before the party, so we had to hide everything away before she came over. All of the streamers, party utensils, napkins, and plates were from Party City in every sort of bright color. I also bought a couple of cute craft kits from Paper Source – a mini pineapple pinata and a DIY set of six paper cacti. I used a white gel pen to add some “texture” to each cactus as well!
Jamie let me borrow her set of acrylic paints so I could add some color to the terra cotta pots I bought for the party favors. They held the miniature cactus candles. I also found some colorful candies to fluff up the favor bags.
Since Kevin and I had to go to a family wedding the morning of the party and with how long it takes to make cupcakes, I made these late the night before. I was worried the crunchy topping that the original recipe suggested would get soggy overnight, so I skipped that component completely. Here is the recipe as adapted from Lady Behind the Curtain, without the crunchy topping!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
- Whisk together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla, and reduce speed to low.
- Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each. Fill each cupcake liner three-quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
- Top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Set out 20 minutes before serving
- In a medium bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until light.
- Mix in vanilla and cinnamon; add confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time until all is incorporated.
Not having the time to actually paint anything, I searched online for some watercolor pieces to incorporate into the DIY dessert toppers, the invitation, favors, and more.
I had to keep the surprise from my brother as well until he came over, since he cannot keep secrets. My mom thought she was meeting at my place and carpooling with me to a restaurant nearby. I wanted to make sure I recorded her entrance, so I had my brother let her in the community gate when she arrived. Right before she walked in, he asked, “Are you ready?” Good thing she wasn’t already suspecting anything!
My mom was really surprised and had a wonderful time, and it’s always great to spend time with my rambunctious family!