Peanut Butter Crisscrosses from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar that I sent to a friend (in a tea box!) last month.
If it isn't apparent already, I like having any reason to bake. Last month, when a friend was going through a rough patch, I sent her some of (what I believe are) her favorite cookies. Today, in return for some free Corin Tucker tickets (Woo! Remember when I met her last year?), I baked another friend some chocolate cupcakes with peanut buttercream frosting (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, of course). Considering I have to travel roughly 90 miles with my goodies in what-could-be warm conditions, I thought I'd make a post about how to give the gift of traveling vegan cupcakes in style. (Recipe notes: I used all vanilla extract, the remainder of my "regular" flour + topped it off with cake flour, & half "dark" cocoa + half "regular" cocoa. For the buttercream, I used molasses & only about 2 tsp of soy milk - the frosting recipe came out wonderfully thick! I imagine you could substitute the peanut butter for another nut butter, too.)
Normally, I would just use my cupcake carrier to travel with cupcakes. However, when you're giving cupcakes as a gift, generally you don't want to part with your beloved carrier. In other cases, too, you may wish to frost the cupcakes yourself - this may be doable in cooler weather conditions or if you plan to travel with an ice chest, but I don't want to relive the rainbow cupcake melted frosting debacle of January 2011. I have learned some lessons & believe I know my way around a traveling cupcake.
First off, after the frosting is made & the cupcakes have cooled, find some old saved jars. I used an old jam jar to house the frosting & a large pickle jar for the cupcakes. Important note: make sure your jars don't smell like what used to be in them, i.e. pickles, salsa, pasta sauce, etc. Onions + chocolate cupcakes doesn't sound like too great of a pairing... (Or maybe you're into off-the-wall combinations...). Since I'm giving away a half dozen cupcakes, I put roughly 1/2 the frosting into the small jam jar - which filled it up. 6 cupcakes also fit nicely into a good-sized pickle jar. I'm sure a full dozen could fit into those extra large pickle jars - so if you know you'll be traveling with cupcakes in the future, save up those jars!
Once your desired amount of frosting is in the smaller jar, put it in the freezer until you're ready to leave. So that it may stay as cold as possible for as long as possible (we don't want it to melt!), freezing is necessary - this won't affect its taste, I promise you. The frosting will most likely be "thawed" completely by the time it reaches its destination.
Make sure your cupcakes are completely cooled before placing them in their jar. If they aren't cooled, moisture will cause the cupcakes to stick together, & no one wants that. You can store the cupcakes in the refrigerator until you leave if you'd like, but that really isn't necessary. Keeping them on the kitchen counter at room temperature is just fine.
Decorate the jars! Glue or tape construction paper onto them with labels (in my case: "vegan chocolate cupcakes" & "vegan peanut buttercream"), ingredients, the recipe, a message (i.e. "Happy Birthday", "Merry Christmas", "Get Well Soon", "I love you", etc.), a drawing, or whatever the heck you want... Glitter! An old photograph! Use fabric! Tie it with ribbon! This is really where you can be as creative as you'd like. Or, y'know, you can go the "rustic" route & not decorate the jars at all. It's entirely up to you.
Find a sturdy brown paper bag, or, if you're fancy, an appropriate-sized gift bag. I'm using jars + brown paper bags today because 1) reusable 2) you don't have to try & retrieve your tupperware or what-have-you later & 3) Erika's voice in the back of my head, telling me to be environmentally savvy. Decorate the brown paper bag if you'd like; you'll be using this bag to transport your cupcakes.
Find an old towel, newspaper, or a small blanket - basically something for cushioning. Nobody likes the sound of glass clanking together. Use something in-between & around the jars in order to prevent jar-collision & possible glass-breakage. I would say the most cute/classy thing to do would be to include some nice kitchen towels in your gift-giving.
Going far & beyond. If you want to be even more thoughtful, you may want to include a little icing knife or spatula (sometimes antique stores have cool-looking ones, too) for frosting the cupcakes. You could include something to coincide with the cupcake eating, like a box of tea or nondairy milk. You could even include a handmade card. I'm sure other accompaniments would make sense, too.