Pinkalicious Flour Frosting

With just one month left until Little C's second birthday (I know! Don't even get me started!), living with her is a lot like being roommates with Sybil. One second, she's suddenly reaching critical mass in the produce section, the next she's ceasing her dramatic wailing to sweetly chirp "Hello!" and frantically wave her tiny arm to a passerby near the bananas.

At any given moment of the day I can be found either rubbing my temples while witnessing another Little C tantrum while dangerously close to throwing my own, or cuddled under the covers with the sweetest baby girl in the world, reading book after book, all fuzzy on the inside as she squeezes in tighter to my side and makes a little game out of giving me little kisses after each page turn. It's moments like the latter that make me come up with all sorts of ambitious ideas, like being inspired to bake pink cupcakes together after reading her favorite book for the 57th time this week.

Do you have little girls? Because if you do, you really should pick up this book, and be prepared to read it aloud. A lot. Pinkalicious is so super cute, about a little girl who turns pink, and then red, from eating too many pink cupcakes and can only return to normal after eating lots of green food. A great message about eating in moderation and the power of a healthy diet. And probably a lot of other noble things that I can't be bothered to think about because after reading that book on repeat OH MY GOD I WOULD KILL FOR A CUPCAKE.

So like any savvy, creativity-fostering mother with a fever for which the only cure was more cowbell pink cupcakes, I declared we would make our own, together. Our cupcake baking activity was totally fun and great--a wonderful bonding experience. That is, when my child wasn't reaching over to crank the mixer directly from 0 to 10 while I was putting the flour in or demonstrating an Exorcist-level flip out because I kept her from shoveling sprinkles into her mouth. Tender moments, I tell you. Tender. Moments.

So the cake recipe itself was my very favorite vanilla cake which I've told you all about before, but the most amazing outcome of this whole mother-daughter baking bonding experience was a frosting so out of this world, I'd eat it pink, white or dolloped on a rubber tire. This frosting is, quite simply, divine. And believe it or not, this revelation of a buttercream is made with flour. Seriously! Little C couldn't believe it either.

Originally the topping for my Great Aunt Agnes's beloved Red Velvet Cake, this frosting recipe was one of the first I copied while leafing through my Gramma's recipes back in Illinois a few weeks ago. I'd been waiting for an excuse to try it ever since--it was all so crazy I couldn't not give it a go, know what I mean? Basically it starts with a cooked flour and milk mixture, which is cooled and then beaten together with butter and an amount of confectioners' sugar so tiny in relation to other buttercream recipes, you'll think that there's no way this could end well.

Except it totally does, people. The flour mixture helps to give the frosting the sort of body that you would normally get from cups upon cups of confectioner's sugar (especially great if you're serving it to kids), and when you whip it with the butter, it becomes almost the consistency of whipped cream--remarkably light and so fluffy you'll want to dive right in with a spoon. Ethereal, just sweet enough and basically the frosting of dreams. Pinkalicious, if you will.

Fantastic Flour Frosting

Makes enough to generously frost about 18 cupcakes

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup milk 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup confectioners' sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the flour and milk together, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to bubble and thickens significantly. When it reaches the consistency of a paste, remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the cooled flour mixture and let the mixer run until the frosting becomes very fluffy and noticably lighter in color. It will be nearly the consistency of whipped cream.

Use the frosting immediately, and refrigerate any leftovers covered tightly with plastic wrap. Bring any leftover frosting to room temperature and whip again for a minute before using.