Can Cupcakes Mend A Broken Heart?

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes
It was a gift from my mom for my 20th birthday and I knew we were destined to be the best of friends. It was stylish, yet practical. Not too big, not too small. Just the right size to hold a summer’s worth of shorts and tees . . . and a souvenir or two from my travels. It was the cadillac of backpacks. And it was all mine.

Old backpack

And while it has definitely seen better days—it’s faded and well-worn at the seams—it remains a treasured possession. A dear old friend.

Recently my old backpack set off on a new adventure, with a brave new explorer. My trusted old friend went to camp with my seven-year old ponytail. It was her first weekend away.

Getting ready for camp

I was quite excited about my daughter’s milestone adventure with her Girl Guide Brownie Troop until we started loading up my old backpack with her weekend essentials. All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with emotion. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was setting sail on one of life’s great adventures myself? Okay, so this time it’s camp. Next time it’ll be Europe, right? Where’s the pause button?

There were definitely tears. But not from me. (Okay, I did come very close.) The tears were from a younger sister who was utterly devastated to be excluded from this grand adventure. I needed a distraction.

A helping hand

So I pulled out my baking pans and we set to work. Within no time, the cloud of flour in the air and cookie crumbs on the counter, floor and all over my ponytail’s little face worked their magic. The injustice of being younger was soon forgotten.

The thrill of an oreo in every cupcake was the perfect diversion.

An oreo in each cupcake

And something to look forward to once they were baked and decorated.

A peek inside

Oreo cupcakes + dinner with a best friend from kindergarten = a very happy little ponytail.

As for mom? Well, she enjoyed the cupcakes too . . .  but she has realized that she needs to cherish every last minute with each of her two little ponytails. Even those times when she wants to pull out her hair from all the craziness and the tantrums . . . because one day that backpack will be headed for Europe. What do you think the odds are that the girls will take me too?


Oreo Cupcakes

Cupcake recipe from Bakerella


  • 1- 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
  • 1- 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 22-24 Oreos


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line tray with baking cups.
  • Place one whole cookie in each cup.
  • Mix the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl using a wire whisk.
  • Add the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk and mix well until thoroughly combined. Add the hot water and mix until combined.
  • Using an ice cream scoop transfer the batter into each baking cup so it’s about three quarters full. Makes 22- 24 cupcakes. (Yield was 23 for me)
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Oreo Buttercream Icing

(Adapted from my Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing Recipe)

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3- 1/2 to 4 cups icing sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 6 tbsp crushed cookie crumbs (approx 5- 6 oreos)

In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about a minute. Add 2½ cups icing sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and milk, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Add remaining one to one-and-half cups of icing sugar and beat until incorporated.  Then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. Add cookie crumbs and beat on medium-high for one minute until well incorporated.

Frost the cupcakes when cool.

Decorate with mini oreo cookies (optional)


95 Comments on “Can Cupcakes Mend A Broken Heart?”

  1. Kristy says:

    Oh Barb! You brought tears to my eyes. I do so wish we had a pause button. Even one that we could just press to enjoy for a moment or two. I was at a roller skating party with Mr. N and Miss A yesterday. A little girl came over and asked Mr. N to skate. Off they went. It was so sweet, but I’m so not ready to have my little guy growing up that much. His friend turned 9 yesterday, Mr. N isn’t too far behind. Oye. I have a feeling if I showed him these cupcakes he’d pick them for his birthday. I hope your oldest enjoyed camp. I have no doubt your youngest is enjoying herself. 🙂

    • Isn’t it funny how it hits you all of a sudden? I would feel the same as you about the skating . . . I’m not ready for that either! I think that the camp weekend was more emotional because of that old beat up backpack and the way I felt all those years ago…

      Aren’t you glad that your kids are part of this blogging adventure too? I bet they are telling their friends at school about the chopped challenge! It’s so cool!

  2. A_Boleyn says:

    My lower lip started to quiver a bit with sadness at the thought of the little one going off into the big wide world. 🙂

    Yummy cupcakes. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the oreo cookieness until I saw that the decoration on top was a mini version. I didn’t know they had those as I hadn’t had an oreo cookie in several years … or was it 5?

    • Thanks Maria! It really hit me that this was a milestone! But she did amazing and had a great time. I was very proud of her because she doesn’t have any close friends in Brownies with her.

      I’m with you. I wouldn’t have had an oreo in a long time either — but they are sooooo popular with the kids. The minis have been out for a while now and they are great to pack for snacks and to use for toppings on ice cream etc.

  3. musingmar says:

    Oh, the milestones and transitions we mothers go through! It’s bittersweet as we see our children spread their wings and become more and more independent. I’m sure your girls will want to go to Europe with you one day, to thank you for all you’ve done for them, including making such fun cupcakes! They look delicious and an excellent diversion whenever one is required.

    • Oh, I do hope that you are right Marlene, as I would love to go to Europe with them one day.

      It is so true what they say. You don’t really understand until you are a mother yourself. I remember being annoyed when my mother wanted to hold me tight as I was ready to spread my wings. Now I don’t know how she ever did it!

      • musingmar says:

        My three are all launched, and it was adjustment each time. Now I have the joy of experiencing my children as adults, and two beautiful granddaughters who allow me to relive all the joy of parenting without the work! Parenthood brings some wonderful rewards. 😊

  4. Margaret says:

    I love all those old country patches on your backpack. i used to collect those on trips, too.

  5. With cupcakes like these? I’m sure it will mend a broken heart. These look fantastic and so cute! I love Oreo and love how there’s one inside and out. Delicious!

  6. Caddie says:

    Such a sweet post! Those cupcakes would mend anything from the looks of it! 🙂 Delish!

  7. That was such a lovely post my friend, I can’t imagine how you feel this being the first time – it is very exciting and my best 😀
    I love your cupcakes as well!


  8. These cupcakes look divine! They could definitely mend my broken heart!

  9. Karista says:

    What a lovely post! I almost shed a tear myself. I absolutely understand the injustice of it all. Being the youngest sister is so hard. My youngest is 6 years younger than her older sister and we had many of those moments. What a fabulous Mom you are! I do belive cupcakes can cure a broken heart. Especially with an oreo at the bottom. 🙂

    • You must have had many such moments with six years difference between the girls. Isn’t it amazing how quickly the youngest develops in order to keep up with big sis? But it doesn’t come without lots of frustration along the way! I was a younger sister too and now I see it all so clearly!

  10. daisyandthefox says:

    these cupcakes look sooooo good!! i am salivating! 😀 just love it!
    what a wonderful way to farewell your ponytail 🙂

  11. Saskia (1=2) says:

    Beautiful post Barb. You had me reaching for the kleenex. Your daughter looks very proud, and perhaps a teensy, teensy bit nervous; about her upcoming adventure. Hope she had an absolute ball. It’s my 8-year old’s first night at Cub Scouts tomorrow night. He is VERY excited. I’m not so sure I’m ready to send him off to camp just yet though – surely he won’t cope without me? Surely?
    I LOVE that you kept your backpack (I sometimes wish I’d kept my similarly-emblazoned one)! Your cupcakes look AMAZING. Two Oreos in each! I like that one is hidden though, so they don’t seem quite so naughty, and one can feign surprise upon discovering the one at the bottom.

    • I hope your son enjoys Scouts! Camp really was a milestone for us all . . . but my daughter did amazingly well. I was very proud of her because I know that she was very nervous about it. They worked on so many crafts and prepared meals etc. It’s a great learning and growing experience! You’ll be just fine . . .both of you that is! Interesting to know that you had a similar backpack. Great memories, heh?

  12. thehungrymum says:

    Oooh, that’s such a lovely story! My Miss7 started Brownie Guides last week and already I’m dreading the overnight camps: I’ll miss her so [as will Miss5]. But I believe in the healing power of cupcakes : baked goods can make almost anything better x

    • I hope your daughter enjoys Brownies. It is such a great organization and they learn so many positive things ….including the power of friendship and how to be resourceful. You’ll ease into the overnight camps — one step at a time!

  13. Beautiful post =] Those cupcakes look amazing too! xxxxx

  14. Ali says:

    I don’t even have my own children and I got a bit teary…beautifully written and I can imagine how quickly your girls are growing up. It also made me think about my own well-travelled backpack! My, that’s been some places 🙂
    Your cupcakes look amazing!

    • Thanks so much Ali. I can imagine that your backpack has been a few places, by the stories that you’ve shared. I’m sure that you are finding your nieces growing up quickly. My niece and nephew are now in their twenties and I still remember how excited they would get when I would go visit them…

  15. Eva Taylor says:

    That backpack sure looks like its been around the block a few times; I can understand why elder ponytail was so happy and excited to use Mom’s treasured case!
    Those cupcakes would cure any broken heart, particularly the surprise at the bottom.

  16. Oh Barb! Your post made me cry!
    My daughter is 8 and she had one room with her 3 year old brother,this winter break she demanded her own room and we took over her dad’s study and transformed it into her own room. The first time she slept in it, it hit me that she is growing way too fast and I would give anything for that pause button!

    • I didn’t mean to make you cry Sawsan! Our children are similar ages (mine are 7 and 4). I think that it is around the ages of 7 or 8 that we want to hit that pause button…it is when that independence starts to kick in, like with your daughter’s need for her own space, and it hits us that those baby years are long gone. It’s strange because I remember wishing that we’d be out of diapers…car seats…and all those other things that were challenging. Here’s to enjoying our children and the kitchen! (It’s so nice to connect with you!)

  17. Loved your post! It reminds me of our last weekend…two of our girls headed on the train to Helsinki (1.5 hr train ride) It was their first time going independently and they were really excited! The third little girl was quite disappointed that she was not going, even if I had promised that next time would be her turn! We had to think of some fun distractions as well 🙂

  18. Kathrina says:

    I love your blog…Very cute and funny.

  19. Sophie33 says:

    What a lovely post! Your cupcakes look extremely tasty & fabulous even! Yummm!

  20. It’s very hard when the realisation hits. My children are mostly grown ( 18,15,12,7) but the seven year old really pulls at my heart strings. Not only is he my only boy, he’s my youngest and I can’t imagine how fast he’s growing up.
    Enjoy them while they’re little and savour the memories.
    These gorgeous cupcakes can mend anything I think! Chocolate always helps 🙂


    • Oh my goodness, you have four children. You are a busy lady! I can imagine that your youngest pulls at your heart strings, especially as your only boy. After this experience I can see that your advice is very wise….we do need to savour every minute while they are young…even though it is hard to remember sometimes!

  21. Nicole da Rosa says:

    Adorable post! As usual 🙂

  22. trangquynh says:

    the beginning of the post nearly made me cry, it’s so touchy to read someone’s adventure, and now it continues but in different forms, you know, I’m sure your daughter will enjoy their adventures as much as you did 🙂 btw, the cupcakes look amazing, I love the Oreo bottoms, always the best part !

  23. Mercedes says:

    Quite a milestone for Ms. Ponytail! Beautiful post and yummy cupcakes!

  24. Purely.. Kay says:

    Barb, you are such a wonderful writer and definitely a wonderful baker too :). I LOVE this cupcake… actually you’re making me want chocolate right at this moment. Love this post

  25. What yummy cupcakes!

  26. Charles says:

    Hi Barb, I totally missed where you were going with the post at first… I totally thought the story was going to be about how the backpack got destroyed during the camping trip and how you were so sad about that, haha! Glad to hear that wasn’t the case though, but I know how ponytail number 2 feels. I used to hate it! My older sister used to be doing cool stuff, going to bed late, staying out late, getting a part time job and what could I do but sit at home and not do a great deal 😦

    The cupcakes look fantastic – totally perfect for fixing any emotional problem in adults and children alike… all that yummy frosting… mmm! The recipe made me curious of something actually – it’s the second recipe I’ve seen recently which calls for both baking powder AND sodium bicarbonate. I don’t know why it needs two different raising agents…. does one do something special which the other doesn’t? I’ll need to read up about it! 🙂

    • Hey Charles. I was just on my way over to your blog. Nice to see you back in the blogging saddle again. I’m trying to get caught up — January was one of those months.

      There are definitely times when it is hard to be the younger sibling. Sounds like you have first-hand experience at that.

      Now you’ve made me curious to find out the reasoning for both baking powder and soda. I didn’t play around with the recipe because I needed it to be perfect the first time. Can you imagine the drama if I’d messed these up???

  27. Norma Chang says:

    A very touching post. My kids are adults with homes of their own, but I still think of them as little kids sometimes.
    Cupcakes are making me hungry and I just had dinner, but wait, I need a dessert, 2 please.

    • I can see how you would still see them as kids at times Norma, I really do. The cupcakes have been long gone for a couple weeks now . . .work has been a bit challenging so it took me a while to get this post up. Next time I make them, I’ll set two aside for you! BTW, I’m hoping to make a couple things for the girls for Chinese New Year since they’ve been studying it at school. Any suggestions?

      • Norma Chang says:

        I’m posting a shrimp dish tomorrow along with a little bit of Chinese calendar facts that I think your girls would find interesting. My Lotus Root salad will be good too.

        • Great. I’ll watch for your post. A colleague at work (who is Chinese) brought me a very large container with many ingredients, decorations and candies for a Chinese New Year celebration. I’m going to try to use what she has given me as much as possible, but I think I need to adjust a few of her recipes for the girls. I have some noodles and I’m thinking of using the sauce recipe that you posted for Eva (with shrimp and asparagus) a while back. The girls will be very interested in your facts. I bought them some books on Chinese New Year when I was travelling last week and now they are checking out everyone’s Chinese astrological signs. They are roosters and rats..and very proud of it!

  28. ChgoJohn says:

    This was such a well-written pos! I think you struck a chord with every Mom that reads it.
    What fun for the Older Ponytail and you had the perfect solution to keep the Younger Ponytail distracted — and her Mom. 🙂

    • Thanks so much John. You know, for a long time I’ve thought it would be great when the girls could go to overnight camp, so I really didn’t anticipate my reaction. I guess it is just one of those natural reactions to letting go. I knew that I’d need to distract the younger ponytail so I lined up a dinner with the family of one of her close friends. I needed a good kid-friendly dessert . . . and cupcakes seemed like a good choice …for the kids and mom. 🙂

  29. Your story gave me chills with all the emotions and memories. My youngest son is also quite the camper and he participates in HKAYP and went on a 8 day expedition for outward bound over the holiday. Let me tell you when he came home from an 8 day excursion in the middle of the wilderness with eating only Chinese curry and filtered water he was ready for some real food! I love these cupcakes and what fun surprise with the oreo at the bottom of the cake a little crunch and moist at the same time. Just one small issue these do not pack very well in those expedition backpacks so she best eat her fill before she leaves. Take care, BAM

    • I can only imagine how ready your son was for real food after an 8-day excursion. You are quite right — these don’t travel well for camp. However, they are perfect for potlucks at school now that I’ve bought a giant three-level cupcake carrying case. I’ll be making cupcakes forever to get my money’s worth of this thing. Hmmm…8-day excursions. Not sure that I’m ready for that yet Bam!

  30. petit4chocolatier says:

    Beautiful story; loved the pause button. It is amazing how something we loved and adored as a gift is something our child also loves. I love this.

    I love the cupcakes. Wow, they are scrumptious and gorgeous. Craving an Oreo cupcake right now! Of course it is only 6:00 a.m. here!!

    • If only there was a pause button in life! It was really special to see my much loved backpack put to good use again. The cupcakes were pretty tasty . . . but I’ll only make them when I know we’re having company because they are just too tempting!

  31. Awh this is so touching. Reminds me of me with my older sis. I love the look of these cupcakes. I think I’ve seen them around on the internet before but have always given myself excuses to not make them. Should really give in to the desire and go buy oreos tomorrow…!

  32. Tandy says:

    One day the backpack will be a constant reminder to a young adventurer that her mom loves her enough to put oreos in the cupcakes!

  33. Natalie says:

    These cupcakes look incredible! Perfect with a big glass of milk. Love Oreos!

  34. Oh, she looks so excited (and adorable) to be heading off on her adventure and how wonderful that she gets to use your backpack. Such a great post, Barb, and how the time does fly. Those cupcakes look amazing and I’d be thrilled to get/eat one with the oreo in the bottom…what fun! And you know what? You’re such a great mom that I think the odds may be in your favor for that invitation to go to Europe. 🙂

    • Thanks Betsy. Yes, time flies much too quickly sometimes. I hope that the girls think I’m a good mom. Sometimes it is hard to stay “cool under pressure” when things get a little crazy…but I think I do score points occasionally with the baking. Hope things are going well with you!

  35. Chef Randall says:

    Sweet treats will mend a heart any day. Thanks for viewing Savor the Food. By the way I have my Salt and Pepper sets in a china cabinet and some on a plant window in the kitchen just above the sink. 🙂

    You like cupcakes? You need to check out this blog..
    Link: . Judy loves to make cupcakes..she has lots of cupcakes. Tell her Randall sent you. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Oh by the way when you click over to Judy’s’s like walking in to a candy store. 🙂 Click over, you’ll enjoy it!!

    Chef Randall

  36. We have to treasure every single moment – you are right, it goes SO fast!! My oldest baby is off to university in September – how did that happen, so fast?
    I love your cupcakes and I am sure they had the power to help heal the heart ache 🙂

    • Boy, off to university. That is hard to imagine, since we are at such different stages with our children. Everyone says that it goes by so fast . . . and it really does. I’m sure you’re enjoying everything until then!

  37. This was a beautiful piece of writing, Barb.. my ponytail is grown and will be going on an excursion at the end of her University days next year.. and I doubt I’ll be invited along. I guess I wouldn’t want to go and spoil the fun of her independence. You’ve made me teary this morning but in a good way. Our lives go speeding by, don’t they? I’d love a Kindergarten Oreo Cupcake this morning.. but will be content to make muffins for my teenagers instead.. xxx Smidge

    • It is such a special time for your daughter Barb. They really are the experiences that last a lifetime — university, travelling and all the friends that you make along the way. The best of times. And you’re right — we wouldn’t want to spoil their independence. Life really does go speeding by . . . and sometimes I find that I’m constantly racing to get to the next task. Thanks for your kind words. This post practically wrote itself . . . it really was the way that I felt.

  38. Sissi says:

    Barb, your cupcakes would mend any broken heart, no matter the reason and no matter the age. They look extremely luscious. Thank you for sharing with us this beautiful story and for showing us the precious backpack, full of childhood memories.
    I think I will go and have a piece of chocolate just to calm the cravings you gave me.

    • Oh, thank you Sissi. I’m glad that you liked my story. Every once in a while things come together in such a way that it really makes you pause and think about things. This was one of those times. I hope that you had a really big piece of chocolate. 🙂

  39. If my memories of my childhood are anything to go by I can assure you that one day (after the “pretend I don’t know you Mum” teenage years) you will be the ponytails’ best friend and they will cherish all those moments every bit as much as you do.

  40. Great story, very touching. I really like the way you introduce the recipes. I love it.

    Cupcakes, are one of my favorite desserts, I recently bought a nice silicon tray for cupcakes, I hope I’ll bake some very soon and I will follow your recipe!

    Thank you for sharing and looking forward to the next recipe!

  41. Sweet post…I remember when my daughter went to camp. I don’t know who was more nervous about her being away for a week, me or her. It sounds like making cupcakes with your little ponytail definitely mended a broken heart.

  42. Scrambled Megs says:

    i love the honesty and the stories in your posts. these cupcakes look lovely x

  43. Brittany says:

    Ohhh my GOSH! These cupcakes look AMAZING! Cupcakes can indeed mend a broken heart!! I remember the first time I went to a girl scout camp, I had so much fun! I think I would rather make cupcakes though so younger ponytail got the fun activity!

  44. I don’t even have kids and I was starting to tear up! I think it’s the idea of ‘change’ that gets us. It’s inevitable, sometimes unforgiving, but absolutely necessary for growth inside and out….it’s just when it sneaks up on us that it tends to tug at the heart a little harder.

    Now…from the bittersweet to just the sweet….an Oreo hiding at the bottom of a cupcake? You’ve outdone yourself and I am SO borrowing that idea then next time I need to WOW people with baked goods:)

    Semi-random side note….every…single…time I think, see, hear the word “Oreo”, I think back to a day when my Mom, Auntie and I were all couch surfing and devoured an entire pack (or maybe two:) of Oreos whilst drooling over Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It’s a memory of a time that seems so long ago, but a wonderful one nonetheless. 🙂 Thanks for the trigger:)

  45. lemoncake says:

    Oreo at the bottom?? Wow these look so amazing!

  46. louslabyrinth says:

    I remember my first brownie weekend away! 🙂 I’m also sure if anything can mend a broken heart it would be cupcakes ;D Thanks for sharing xoxox

  47. Cristina Bonetti says:

    I love Oreo!! 😉

  48. mmmarzipan says:

    They look amazing :D! I am sure they did the trick 😉 Lovely post and story too. xx

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