help! what kind of cupcakes should i serve our one-year-old?

Dear readers, can you believe it’s been almost a year since Isadora was born? These days she’s giggling, crawling, dancing, standing, clapping and babbling with gusto. Every day is more fun. We’re having a small party to celebrate her — and our — monumental first year. Just a small one, mostly for us. But we are planning on giving Iz her first taste of a sweet treat — I’m thinking cupcakes. But what kind to bake? These carrot ones with cream cheese icing from Martha Stewart are the current front runners. I’m also wondering if I can take this chocolate and zucchini cake recipe and use it in a cupcake pan? Is there a difference between cake batter and cupcake batter? I imagine you would cook cupcakes for a shorter time. Any other suggestions? Remember she doesn’t have many teeth, so anything with nuts is out! Thanks for your help! — Angela M.

From our partners

It’s been so many years since my kids were babies, that I’m afraid I’m no source of information on what would be appropriate.

Can babies that young safely ingest chocolate?

Anyway… ask your pediatrician if you aren’t sure what’s a good treat for a baby this age.

My only advice would be not to give her a whole one to eat, just part of one. ; )

I don’t have any flavour recommendations but I would recommend the mini-sized cupcake tins. They’re cuter by far but your birthday girl might find them easier to hold too.
As for cooking time, they’re done when the tops are springy … usually 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size. I also check with a toothpick.
Good luck!


When I made cupcakes from my grandma’s secret chocolate cake recipe, I set the timer for 2/3 the time suggested for a regular cake. From there, you will know whether your cupcakes are ready, need a bit more time, or need a lot more time. Depends on your oven. Uyek is right — springy tops and a clean toothpick=cooked cupcakes!

Unlike DJ, though, I would give Isadora a whole cupcake. You can always take it away once she’s eaten so much, but you’ll get much better pictures (and she’ll have more fun playing/exploring) if you start with a cupcake that can sit, stably, by itself on her high chair tray. Also, in thinking about pictures, you might consider what color frosting would offer good contrast to Isadora’s skin and hair. If she’s fair and blond, for instance, cream cheese frosting is not going to make for classic frosting-and-cake-on-baby first birthday pictures unless you add a bit of color to it. And you want the pictures. It’s the whole reason you serve a baby cake!

Oh, and strip her naked to the waist before you serve the cupcake! MUCH easier cleanup that way.


Mini cheesecakes have been the fave birtthday treat at our house the last four years (oldest is 5). I think I got the recipe from Paula Deen? My girls are not big cake eaters but love anything dairy.


I used the ginger carrot cupcake recipe from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook for my 1 yos birthday and it worked out great – the ginger makes up for the lack of walnuts. If you are already doing nuts and not worried about allergies you could just grind up the walnuts and add them to the recipe. And add me in for another vote for the whole cupcake – she’ll have a blast and likely won’t eat the whole thing but it will be cute! The nice thing about both recipes you’ve chosen is that they are really more like muffins and so don’t require as much careful beating as a traditional cake batter would.

Hi Angela!

Congrats on making it through one year…my little guy will be one on the first! Yeah for babies!

Yes you can make cupcakes out of the zucchini mix…I actually posted about that back in September so you can check it out if you want to. I made them with the Texas-style cupcake pan but you might want to do smaller ones for your little one. God help us with a sugar over-loaded baby! Good luck!!–Jen


There is a great recipe for baby’s first cake here
If you want to make it into cupcakes just adjust the cooking time.

Baby’s First Birthday Cake (Carrot Cake)
(Makes 1 double-layer 9-inch square cake; adapted from “What to Expect”)

2 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
2 1/2 cups apple juice concentrate (you may use slightly less)
1 1/2 cups raisins

Vegetable Spray/Shortening
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 Tbsp low sodium baking powder
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Prep: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 9 inch square cake pans with waxed paper and spray the paper with vegetable spray/shortening.

1. Combine the carrots with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the juice concentrate in a medium size saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 15 to 20 mins. Puree in a blender of food processor until smooth.
3. Add the raisins and process until finely chopped. Let mixture cool.
4. Combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups juice concentrate, the oil, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla; beat just until well mixed. Fold in the carrot puree and applesauce. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans.
5. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 mins. Cool briefly in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. When cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting below or sprinkle a wee bit of powdered sugar if desired.

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[…] 20 minutes, depending on size. I also check with a toothpick.” See more cupcake tips — especially for first birthdays! — […]

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[…] couple of weeks ago, I asked for some advice on what kind of cupcakes I should serve Isadora on her first birthday. Ideas poured in, ranging from carrot to chocolate. […]