Conversation Heart-Flavored Cupcakes

conversation heart valentine's day cupcakesConversation hearts: Be Mine. True Love, Friends. Conversation hearts with those sweet sayings are what make Valentine’s Day, well, Valentine’s Day. Do you remember them? I had them as a kid and my kids have them for Valentine’s Day now.

I decided to make a cupcake and frosting that resemble the flavor of these hearts. I used a box mix for the base of the cupcake to keep it simple, and to save a little time, but I created a frosting from scratch that really does taste like these little guys.

conversation heart valentine's day cupcakesThe first step is crushing these babies. I tried several systems to crush them. conversation heart valentine's day cupcakesMeasure out one cup of sweet conversation hearts. Read the sayings if you want before you pulverize them to bits. Eat one.

conversation heart valentine's day cupcakesThis method did NOT work. I put them into a ziptop bag and had my daughter try to crush them with a rolling pin. We rolled over them and we used the rolling pin like a hammer. As you can see from the bag in the photo, they got crushed, but not pulverized. You want a fine dust at the end.

conversation heart valentine's day cupcakesWe tried the food processor. This did NOT work either. Shocked me that this didn’t work. But, it was no better than the rolling pin method. My third attempt, I put them into a bullet blender. One like this: Magic Bullet. This totally worked! My next try was going to be my high-powered blender, but I didn’t need that on this recipe.

conversation heart valentine's day cupcakesSee … fine powder. This is what you want it to look like.

conversation heart valentine's day cupcakesI put about a 1/4 cup of the powder in to the cupcake mix and baked the cupcakes according to the package directions.

conversation heart cupcakes for Valentine's dayThen, I made the frosting. This was yummy. I thought the butter cream would be more of a pink color, but it turns out that when you mix pink, green, white, and orange, you get a peach effect. This is a  sweet, and thick, frosting. It was hard to pipe so next time I’d just spread it on and put the heart on top for decoration.

The kids loved this cupcake.

Here’s the recipe:

Conversation Heart-Flavored Marshmallow Butter Cream
  • 2 cups butter (room temperature)
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup conversation heart powder
  • 1 jar marshmallow creme (13 oz)
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or cream
  • Put softened butter in mixer and beat until smooth
  • Sift together powdered sugar and conversation heart powder
  • Add sugar mixture, one cup at a time, to butter. Mix between each cup
  • Add marshmallow creme and mix
  • If icing is too thick, add milk or cream, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Opinions are my own.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.

10 Luscious Chocolate Cake Recipes

10 chocolate cake recipes via BalancingMotherhood.comIt’s national chocolate cake day. Who makes up these days anyway? It doesn’t matter, because I think this one is worthy. who doesn’t want chocolate cake on any given day?

caramel chocolate pecan cake

A few months ago I made this lovely chocolate cake. Chocolate, caramel, pecans. Delicious. Moist. This cake is a winner. And, the secret? The base is a box cake mix. Learn how to make this cake to wow at your next gathering.

Here are some other amazing looking chocolate cakes, with links included so you can get all the details. Pick one and make it to celebrate any occasion — not just the silly made up chocolate cake day!

Crockpot Chocolate Lava Cake | From:This Mama Loves
Chocolate Indulgence Cake | From: We Know Stuff
Chocolate Stout Cake with Ganache Glaze | From: I Was Born to Cook
Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cakes | From: Mom Foodie
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse Filling | From: Tastes Better From Scratch
5 Minute Mint Chocolate Mug Cake | From: Blue Crab Martini
Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake | From: Amanda’s Cookin’
Double Chocolate Cupcakes With Strawberry Buttercream | From: Love to Be in the Kitchen
Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Cakes | From: It’s Yummi
Flourless Chocolate Cake | From: Yankee Kitchen Ninja

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Red: A Crayon’s Story is Provocative Children’s Book

Red by Michael Hall
I love a  good children’s picture book. I love opening the book to read a new story and share with my children. My all time favorites are ones that have themes relevant for adults too. I’m not just talking about being funny. You know the ones that have clever jokes that are above the heads of the little ones, but the parents get? No, sometimes books have greater themes tucked deep into a children’s book that are meant for the adults. We need to be reminded. We need to have conversation starters for our kids.

What greater way than through a picture book that can be shared?

There are a few of these books that I absolutely love — for me. Themes that I need to be reminded of.  Incredible You is one of those books that I’ve written about before. It’s such an inspirational book teaching us how to believe in ourselves. It’s a book to be read and reread. It also makes a great graduation gift. I know, silly, right? Giving a high school graduate a picture book, but let me tell you, these stories resonate with people. Why not give an adult a picture book?

This week I received a copy of Red by Michael Hall. Hall is the author of The Orange Aardvark that I wrote about last year. Love that book. It’s sweet and funny. But it’s more truly a children’s book.

His new book is about a crayon — a red crayon that is mislabeled. Red, the main character, is a blue crayon in a red crayon wrapper. Mislabled.

The crayon’s parents can’t figure out what’s wrong. His grandparents think he isn’t warm enough (there’s some of that humor that adults will get). All his friends try to help him figure out what’s wrong. No matter how hard he tries, or how many people help him, he can only color in blue. Everyone thinks this is wrong. What is wrong with him? Why can’t he draw in red?

Not one person, even Red himself, thinks it’s something else that’s wrong. That Red is fine just the way he is.

It reminds me of an Albert Einstein quote:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

I just love this quote. It helps us understand that we are not made to know everything, or to be able to do everything. We have a special purpose. “Everybody is a genius!”

Back to Red. Finally, along comes a different crayon, a purple crayon. This crayon asks Red to draw him a blue ocean. Red says, “I can’t.” This line nearly breaks my heart. He’s defeated. He believes he can’t. He thinks he a fish that is being asked to climb a tree!

The Purple crayon persists and asks, “can you try?” Red tries and succeeds! He draws a blue ocean.

Red realizes he’s blue. BLUE! He never was red. Nothing was wrong with him. He was mislabeled! No one was lifting him up, or believing in him. All they were trying to do was find out what was wrong.

I can’t tell you how many different themes this book covers in one simple story. Here’s a few that come to mind:

  • believe in yourself
  • overcoming doubt (your own and others)
  • treat others as they want to be treated
  • tolerance for people’s differences
  • race
  • judgement
  • acceptance
  • never give up

My 9-year-old says it’s about not judging a book by its cover. Indeed. The brilliant part of this book is that it’s a simple story about crayons.

I have to admit that I’m reading a lot into a simple picture book, but I think it’s a great way to open dialogue in your home.

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book. Affiliate links are used in this post, so, if you make a purchase I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Opinions are my own.

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.
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Chocolate Butter

3-ingredient chocolate butter -- decadent for bread for pancakes via BalancingMotherhood.comI love this latest recipe. Truly, I’m in love with this one. It’s decadent, and — as always — EASY! I can’t believe I’ve never even heard of CHOCOLATE BUTTER before!

I found this little recipe in the most recent issue of Real Simple magazine on a page titled “chocolate chips.” WHOA! It was this little listing at the bottom of page 44 and I almost missed it. Intrigued, I tore out the page and set it aside thinking I might try to make it. At the same time, I wondered what the heck is chocolate butter anyway?

I’m so glad I was intrigued enough to make this one and you will be too!

chocolate butter -- decadent and easyAll it takes is butter, cocoa, and chocolate chips and a dash of salt.

Mix together and you get this decadent chocolate dream. It doesn’t taste like butter, but it does taste like butter — only better.

So, what do you use chocolate butter on?

chocolate butter -- decadent and easyIt’s perfect for a warm croissant. If the butter is room temperature it spreads like plain butter. But who wants plain butter when you can have chocolate butter? I’d say it’s similar to Nutella in spreadability. Yeah, I just made the word spreadability up.

chocolate butter on whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup -- YUM!But, what I LOVED with this chocolate butter was a warm stack of whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup. The heat from the pancakes gently melted the chocolate butter and added the most delicious flavor. Seriously better than just adding chocolate chips to the batter. This butter adds a level of richness to the pancakes.

You have to make this. You won’t regret it. Make it for Valentine’s day. Make it for Mother’s Day. Make it for Easter. Make it for no reason!

Chocolate Butter
This recipe is adapted from Real Simple magazine. Serve with croissants, or on pancakes -- or anything you like!
  • ½ cup butter (unsalted)
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  1. Make sure butter is at room temperature.
  2. Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second increments, stir after each 30 seconds. This shouldn't take more than 3 times or a max of 1 minute, 30 seconds. Chips won't look melted until you stir them. You can also put chips in double boiler to melt.
  3. Add ingredients into mixing bowl in order listed.
  4. Mix on low until smooth. Make sure to get all butter parts incorporated into the chocolate.
  5. Put chocolate butter into serving bowl. You can eat it right away or let it firm a little bit.
  6. Store in the refrigerator, but it's best served at room temperature.


About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.

Times of Transition

How do I start a post about how much I’ve been slacking? Truth of the matter is that I’ve been super busy — just not enough on the content side of the blog. I did make an amazing batch of chocolate butter — really, chocolate butter! I’ll put that up next week. So easy and oh, so delicious. But you can’t see that. You only see when I actually post article and recipes here, and I’ve been remiss in that for a couple of weeks.

Let me tell you what’s going on. I’ve been seeking employment. As much as I love this blog, I realize that I need regular income that I just haven’t been able to generate from this site — yet! So, back to work I go. I’ve been submitting resumes, writing cover letters, networking, and going on interviews. It’s a full-time job looking for a full-time job. But, I found one and I think it’s a great fit.

I’ll still be blogging, but will have to work harder at it. First up is a new theme. I’ve been struggling with the Thesis theme for over a year now and it’s just not cutting it. I’ve paid developers to fix things, only for them to break again. So, first order of business is a new theme. This will be fresh new look that will highlight the food focus the blog has shifted to in the past year or so. I’m really excited about this development! Sometimes things need to break in order for them to get better.

Oh, and a case of head lice hit my house today — so, there’s that.

So, bear with me as I adjust my hours and get back to regular blog posts. I’m excited that it’s going to be better than ever!

About Alicia: Alicia is the founder of Last year, she managed to stay sane while completing an MBA, working full-time, blogging, and still baking amazing birthday cakes — all while raising a young family at home.