Homemade Gifts: Cupcakes in a Jar

Here's the perfect homemade gift for everyone on your list...cupcakes in a jar! Go domestic this year, buy some 8-oz glass jars with gold lids, wooden spoons, round stickers for the lids, bakers twine, and a pastry bag with decorative tips. Fill and decorate jars as follows:

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2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
2 1/4 tsp of cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups of canola oil
1 cup of buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp of red food coloring
1 tsp of white distilled vinegar
2 tsp of vanilla extract

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:

1 pound of cream cheese, softened
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 tsp of vanilla extract
4 cups of sifted powdered sugar

Directions for the cream cheese frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Directions for the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers (remember to remove cupcakes from cupcake papers before putting them in the jars).
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
 Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick and then remove from oven and cool completely.
Slice cupcakes in half once they are cool, you will have a stack of tops and a stack of bottoms. Place 1 bottom in each jar. Put a layer of the frosting on top. Take the top of the cupcake and place on top of the layer of frosting. Gently smash the top part of the cupcake inside the jar. Beautifully frost the top of the cupcake,
Cover with lids and package as desired!

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