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The 19 Cent Cupcake – No Box Mix or Canned Frosting Required

19 Cent Cupcake

This cupcake recipe is the first recipe that I have ever created solely based on price.  As part of the Hunger Challenge, I had $87 to spend on food for the week for my family of three – and as a cupcake blogger, I wanted to include cupcakes.  For this recipe (and everything else we ate during the Challenge), I assumed that I had nothing in my pantry except salt and pepper.  If I wanted to use vanilla extract, the cost of buying that vanilla extract would count against the total.

I ended up baking eight banana cupcakes with dulce de leche frosting.  Each cupcake cost nineteen cents (thirty-three cents if you serve it with a scoop of homemade banana ice cream).  The cupcakes themselves are simple and not overly sweet, but when you top them with the dulce de leche and eat them with the ice cream, they rival any of my pricier creations.

More Thoughts on the Hunger Challenge

I received many comments on my most recent post about the Hunger Challenge.  Many of you supported me and my family for what we were doing.  Some of you told stories about your own families, people you know, and people that you work with.  Others questioned (with varying degrees of severity) my motives and methods. I encourage you to read to the post, read the comments, and keep the dialogue going.

As I stewed over the comments (particularly the more negative ones – isn’t it always that way?), I came across a post that really hit home by Kitchen Mage, a food blogger who has personal experience with Food Stamps.  She had the following to say to food bloggers participating the in the Challenge:

If you find yourself being hassled, consider it part of the challenge. It can be uncomfortable, but you’re probably only on the other side of the keyboard reading a tweet you don’t like. People on public assistance are constantly being told how they are doing it wrong. Simply splitting your grocery purchase into food and not-food is a silent declaration that you are on SNAP leading some people to judge your purchases, sometimes out loud, rudely and to your face, or worse, your child’s face.

She’s right (of course), and the more I think about it, I’m glad that writing about the Hunger Challenge hasn’t been easy and that it has sparked discussion.  That’s how it should be.  I also strongly suggest that you read both of Kitchen Mage’s posts on the hunger challenge (the first one and the second one).  I can tell you what it’s been like for me (eye-opening and educational), but I’ve found that it’s hard to say much more without sounding preachy or coming across as a rich girl playing house. Kitchen Mage shares the hard truth of what it’s really like.

Now, Onto the Cupcakes

The cupcake recipe is below.  The cost per cupcake will obviously vary greatly depending on how much the ingredients cost in your area.  I list the price I paid for each ingredient (scaled down from the full quantity in the package).

Yield: 8 cupcakes

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature ($0.34)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar ($0.16)
  • 1 large egg  ($0.14)
  • 1/2 cup flavored yogurt (I used soy coconut yogurt that I got with a coupon, $0.25)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda ($0.01)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour ($0.08)
  • 1 ripe banana, about 1/4 cup after mashing ($0.14)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  3. Mix in the egg.
  4. Mix in the yogurt, baking soda, and flour.
  5. Mix in the mashed banana.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Dulce De Leche Frosting

For the frosting, I used dulce de leche made from a can of sweetened condensed milk (see my post on how to make dulce de leche for details).  The can cost $1.29 but I only used a quarter of the dulce de leche it made to frost the cupcakes.  I’ll be able to use the leftovers to spread on bread, top my banana ice cream with, or I may use it instead of syrup on pancakes.

Banana Ice Cream

Yesterday on the Cupcake Project Facebook page, Herb’n Maid suggested that I make banana ice cream – I had mentioned that I bought a big bag of inexpensive bananas at a farmers’ market.  She explained that you can make banana ice cream from one ingredient: a banana!

To make banana ice cream:

  • Simply cut a banana up, freeze it, and then blend the frozen banana to create a smooth, creamy banana ice cream.
  • If you prefer harder ice cream, make the ice cream in the blender and then return it to the freezer in a bowl for an hour or so before scooping and eating it.

The photo at the top of this post shows two servings of banana ice cream (my husband and I shared that amount of ice cream).  Each serving was about one banana’s worth, which in our case was $0.14.

The Rest of the Hunger Challenge

I’ve been posting photos of our meals in an album on Facebook and I will continue to do so.  Check there to see how our week ends.

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