Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes

I called a friend today. Not just a friend friend, but one of those friends who reminds you why you’re alive. One of those friends that cause you to breathe and smile and feel astonished that you’ve had the good fortune of finding them in your lifetime. Our chat started out like any other chat. We touched on the basics of daily schedules and pet-loving. Chatted about families and friends. Cracked a few clever jokes. The conversation was nice. Everytime I talk to this friend of mine, it’s nice. Really just great nice.

As we talked, I realized how much I love that she loves me. I realized how much good she brings out in me. Then, I realized how this conversation of ours was far from a realistic reflection of how the last three weeks of my life have been. Can I be honest with you? I asked. And I opened up to her a little, afraid she’d see how terrifyingly broken I really am. Afraid she’d rethink this friendship of ours. In return, she offered an honest peek into her last three weeks. It inspired me to be even more honest. I told her about grappling with fear, faith, fights. Let her see inside hidden caverns I’d tried to cover. And, before you can say bobshrunkel, the two of us were sharing bitter and sweet. Tasting the essence of our souls. The worries of our hearts. Seeing each other for who we really are, and finding a deep, abiding admiration for each other. An admiration which comes only when one is willing to strip their insides raw and offer the entrails up for inspection.

I’m not familiar with conversations like this. Having spent much of my life putting on appearances, smiling through pain, baking cookies instead of crying, trying to tell myself that I can hide the realities of my heart behind a well-schlacked veneer, afraid of what even my dearest friends might say when they see my true worries and fears and wonderings, this thing called being honest with myself–about myself–is a new frontier. Suddenly, I’m admitting my ashes. Revealing scars. Accepting imperfect.

This morning I met with a surgeon. Having recieved a worrisome MRI report last week about a lump on my upper thigh, I’ve spent the last eight days in absolute, tummy-knotted angst. Based on the first doctor’s diagnosis, things weren’t looking pretty. After two nights of twisting myself through nightmarish what-if scenarios, I got real. I cried. I screamed. I watched people walk on the street and wanted to spit at them for being healthy and happy. I’m a stickler for justice, and the world suddenly felt tremendously unjust. Here I was–at the age of 34–having to consider leaving this blessed existence while people much older (and significantly less adorable) than me bought candy bars and smoked three-packs a day. It was all so unfair, and infuriating, and scary. Downright scary.

Yet, in all this, I blogged happy. Cookies…yay! Salads…yay! Sugar, butter, love love love. You’d never have guessed. How could you?

I didn’t let you in. Didn’t fess up about a single real-world concern. Didn’t admit my humanness. I didn’t because I don’t. I’ve been so afraid to admit that I wear barefeet in the kitchen and bake in a stove bought from Craigslist that I’ve schlacked who I really am into someone that I’m really not. I don’t wear yellow heels in the kitchen. My husband doesn’t wear argyle sweaters. Heck, I don’t even cook with an apron on. You can’t begin to imagine how many chocolate stains I have on the seat of my jeans.

I worry about lumps on my legs and moles on my arms. I don’t think I can be clever enough to fill up a second cookbook. My kids are running around the house while I write this blog post. I wish I had dinner in the oven. There’s soy sauce spilled in the fridge and I haven’t wiped it up in over a week. I hate wiping up soy sauce from the fridge. There you go. The real me.

By Friday of last week, my inital reaction to the bad-MRI news morphed from an ugly anger to surreal peace. I woke early with a reassurance that it would be okay if the lump on my leg was cancer. I’d have time to teach my kids a few more things. Write a few blog posts. Make videos to say goodbye. Mostly, I was grateful for time to leave behind a legacy of the real me. I wanted almost desperately enough time to tell my children what I’m beginning to learn about the power of authenticity, honest admissions, sharing your soul with people you love and trust. About the strength of being just human.

Human. Some of the most divine moments in these last three weeks have been when I ask people to share their stories, then tell them mine. When Shaina tells me the lumps are nothing to worry about and that’s that. When Holly says, “Honey, I’m so proud of where you are. It’s okay.” When Noodles says, “Oh, sis. I know. It’s been a helluva week for all of us.” When Jessica says “whatever took you so long to say something?” When my sweet friend Bethany, after hearing all the ashes of my heart this afternoon, didn’t say goodbye. She said “I love you.”

The surgeon inspected me today, looked over the MRI. I was accumulating polka-dots of fat, he said. Not cancer. He couldn’t understand why the referring physician had put up such a stink. I couldn’t shake a feeling of gratitude. I was immensely grateful to have faced down the possibility of dying for two weeks straight. Rather than feeling upset about two weeks wasted, or relieved for cleared heath, I felt simply…grateful. Grateful for every single day–no matter how many days that ends up being. Grateful for earth beneath my feet and sun above my hair. Grateful for husband, family, friends who don’t say goodbye. They say I love you.

With this newfound understanding of the power of honest authenticity, I offer you a deeper commitment to truth. I don’t want to tell you how to live. I don’t want you to think I’ve got all the answers, or have the perfect kitchen, or have figured out some secret to supreme living. I do, however, want to hear your stories and tell you mine. I want to understand where you’re coming from. Appreciate you where you are. Cheer you on. Tell you how much I believe in your heart. Celebrate humanity with all it’s imperfections. In short, I want to live more fully, taking everyone and every experience as it comes. As it is. Beauty, sorrow, joy, pain, color, bitter, sweet.

I suppose you could say, this is the new and unimproved Cheeky Kitchen. Ashes and all.


Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes


1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Butter & Nut flavoring
1/2 teaspoon Coconut flavoring
1/2 teaspoon Butter Flavoring

2 sticks butter
1 bag (2 pounds) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Butter & Nut flavoring
1/2 teaspoon Coconut flavoring
1/2 teaspoon Butter Flavoring
4-6 Tablespoons milk


In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and eggs until ridiculously light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat just until incorporated. Add the milk then continue to beat until a soft batter comes together. Spoon into muffin tins lined with cupcakes wrappers, filling each just barely over 1/2 way full. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes, or JUST until the cupcake springs back to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting with Toasted Marshmallow Buttercream.


Whip all ingredients together until light and fluffy. Spread atop cooled cupcakes.

Heat one burner on your stovetop to high. Place a large marshmallow on a bamboo skewer and hold very close to the heated burner until golden brown. Remove from the skewer and allow to cool before placing atop frosting cupcakes.

147 Responses to “Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes”

  1. Cheeky Husband says:

    TO MY DEAR WIFE: As you know, I love, LOVE this post. I can’t tell you what it means to me to be married to someone who is so real, and open and utterly beautiful. In every way. But, you already know I love you. Mostly, I’m here to defend myself on the argyle sweater: I WOULD wear it…if we didn’t have to take it back right after the photo shoot! ;)

    TO MY WIFE’S READERS AND FRIENDS, OLD AND NEW: I, too, think you are WONDERFUL! All of you are invited to come visit us anytime. We have a guest bedroom, four (usually) nice children, an almost house-trained Chihuahua. And really, really good food.


    • Brooke says:

      Babe- you are sexy. And sweet. And totally in trouble for admitting that we returned that shirt after snapping pics for the header. As for inviting all these lovely people into our guest room, amen! Just so long as they can ignore the endless laundry pile…and soy sauce in the fridge. :) I love you. XOXOXO

  2. Love these. Your site rocks!

  3. What an honest post, Brooke. I am sorry that you have gone through such a difficult, but am far from surprised that you see things with such clarity and gratitude. I only met you one time, but was immediately drawn to your sweet nature and obvious joy for life. So glad the news was good!

    • Brooke says:

      Dara, you are so kind. And, in that one meeting, I happened to marvel at you, as well. Sounds like we’re just going to have to aim for another meetup, no?! Love ya!

  4. Tiny Sue says:

    Firstly, well done for admitting your terror and anguish. Too many people live behind a shellacked smile, and say, ‘Everything’s fine!’ Coming from Ireland as I do, I have friends from Eastern Europe who can’t understand the mentality that leads Irish people to, when asked how they are, say things like ‘ah grand’ or their favourite, ‘not too bad now, not too bad.’ My friends say, ‘if there is something wrong, share it. Don’t bottle it up. In Russia if you ask even a total stranger at a bus stop how they are, they will be honest.’
    My mother died 10 years ago from cancer. I am ashamed to say that during the time she was dying, the family was falling apart, and all we said to anyone who asked was, ‘ah we’re holding our own’, or ‘she’s ok at the moment.’ We should have had the courage to share, as you did.
    Secondly, I’m glad the lump was benign.
    Thirdly – great cupcakes!

    • Brooke says:

      Oh, that is so horrible and beautiful all at the same time. You’ve moved me to let go of those standard reactions and try to look people in the eye more. It’s so easy to cover it up and think everyone is fine, when there are so many feeling so much more than fine. Happy, sad, good, bad…I want to be open to all people in all the places they stand.

      I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your mother to cancer. So sorry there are lingering regrets. But, I thank you so much for sharing such a poignant lesson on courage.

      Blessings you.

  5. Rosie says:

    My eyes are filled with tears… I LOVE transperancy. I love that we have ALL been blessed by your friend. I LOVE that you put it ALL out there, to share, to learn, to walk along with you. I have really worked hard to end my conversations with my gal friends with “I love you”- it’s not easy to say, but WOW is it powerful. Thank you far sharing your amazing talents, but mostly thanks for sharing your heart.

    • Brooke says:

      Rosie. I absolutely love the word “transparency.” Perfect. My new goal. Thanks for summing it all up. And, yes! That friend Bethany of mine is an absolute blessing. ;)

  6. Heather Ballard says:

    Dear cousin!

    It’s so interesting how life brings us everything we need, even in the most unknowing ways. I was just thinking of you the other day, at how I hope to be and do all the many things you’ve accomplished–you truly are so talented and beautiful. You inspire me constantly. During this time I was feeling really down and lonely, but after reading your post and choosing to just be who I am where I am, and knowing its okay to feel crappy sometimes, I feel better. Thanks for sharing yourself and your many talents with all of us! Love you!!!

    • Brooke says:

      Sweet Heather, THANK YOU for leaving such a sweet comment. I’m so sorry things have been overwhelming. Life does that sometimes, doesn’t it? Please know you are loved and admired and believed in. XOXOXO.

  7. Amy P. says:

    Brooke, I have been reading your blog for a while now and have tried a few of your recipes. They have been a big hit, by the way. Thank you for being “real”, sometimes it is hard to imagine a blogger on the other end having real issues, just like everyone else. I have been going through some family issues and have kept it inside and it is now turning my insides into knots, constantly. I have been thinking about blogging about it (because I have not shared this information with many people) and thought that maybe it would help me feel better, just to get it out in the open but unsure if I wanted to be that “open”. Anyway, thank you for the inspiration to just let it all out!! Also, so happy to hear that you are ok and you got a good report at the doctor today!!

    • Brooke says:

      Amy- Open up. Even to the people you are most afraid to open up to. It’s so terrifying, but so incredible to realize that you’re all just trying to work through this life. By giving yourself honestly to those around you, you tell them that you’re having a hard time…but that you need THEM to help you get through it. What greater thing could a person say, that to tell those around them, “I love you. I may not GET you. I may not always agree with you. But, I’m in this for the long haul because I can’t live without you.”

      It’s worth it. I promise. XO

  8. Amy Allen says:

    Oh dearest, darling Brooke-

    This honesty thing is scary. I find I can be honest with strangers, with people I hardly know, but on my own blog with my family and close friends? Pshh. forget about it. I mean, I can show pictures of what’s behind my stove when I clean there, and I can elude to body image issues and anger at bad things in the world. But share with my LDS friends and family that we had to declare bankruptcy and that I had somer upper chest augmentation due to those afore mentioned body issues? Nooo way.

    Where is the line between sharing our worries and sorrows and sharing our stupidest decisions? I just don’t think I’m brave enough. But I’m glad you are because I love you now even more and above all, I’m sooo glad you are ok, and that there will be no good byes in the foreseeable future.

    And, of course, I can’t wait to make these cupcakes. But with bunny marshmallows, cuz that would just be awesome!

    • Brooke says:

      Oh my crap. I’m now officially your BIG.GEST fan. You’ll find what works for you. But, the more I offer truly terrifying admissions–especially those that are the stupidest decisions, you come to find that they aren’t so stupid after all.

      I was reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie to my kids tonight. It’s so good. If you haven’t, go grab a copy and devour it entirely. It occurred to me tonight that part of my fear in offering my soul to others is a fear that I myself wouldn’t be so merciful if the tables were turned. I love that book because it inspires me to be gentle…so, so gentle with everyone around me. And with myself.

      I wish we could declare bankruptcy. I think all the time about getting augged out. My husband, I think, would lurve the hey out of such a thing.

      Love you, darlin’. You’re not making such silly choices as you think. Just real ones. :)

  9. Winnie says:

    I am so sorry you spent time in such anguish, Brooke! And relieved for you that you do not have cancer. Thanks for being so honest about it all- I for one am SO relieved to hear you’re not perfect ;) The yellow heels are awesome and all but it’s good to know you don’t really cook in those…I was having some serious issues with my own barefooted-ness every time I looked at your header!
    Anyway, I’ve struggled lots in writing my own posts with how much me to put out there. I’m not someone who can hide things, so when I am down, I decided to just let my readers know. It’s easier than just putting up a tasty recipe and nice photos and pretending everything’s groovy. Life is definitely not 100% groovy.
    Anyway, I love your blog. It makes me happy. Your writing and recipes are terrific. Just so you know…

    • Brooke says:

      Winnie, Thank you. Everytime your stumbles came through my bar for the last week, I thought, “okay. well at least I know where I’ll turn to start curing this thing.” Thanks for providing such a profoundly inspiring blog full of healthy, vibrant recipes. I’m a total fan.

      And, thank you for using the word “groovy.” I’m adding it to my list of words this week. Love it. :)

  10. Betsy says:

    Ahh, Brooke. Where to start this post. I discovered this blog last summer-ish, and I immediately fell in love with you. I know it’s sudden, but there you have it. I like to think that we would be BFFs if our lives were to cross paths. :) I’m so happy that your polka dots turned out to be just that – and they are all the rage in fashion this spring, so way to be ahead of the trends!! lol

    I went through my own scare last summer, a routine doctor’s exam turned into “there’s a lump….” and because I’m ‘of an age’ and don’t have children, I immediately went to the worst case scenario. I told absolutely no one, because that was how I operated. I had to wait 3 weeks to get a needle biopsy – I literally wept and went limp with relief when he came back and said it was benign. I wish that during those 3 weeks I could have come to that sense of peace that you arrived at, but to be honest I am weak and was frightened and spent many sleepless nights. But that time changed me, for sure, for the better. Life is much more precious, and I’m a lot more free with the “I love you’s” and “You’re SO important to me’s” than I was. I have also realized the importance of leaning on others for support…a really tough lesson that I still struggle with.

    Why do we torture ourselves so? It really IS okay to need someone and to admit that need. I have to say – I am not glad that you went through this, but I am happy that you shared it. I love you even more for your chocolate-tinged jeans and bare feet.

    • Brooke says:

      Betsy- What a generous comment. Thank you! I happen to think you’re exactly right…we’d be BFF’s for sure. ;)

      I’m so sorry you went through such a difficult experience last summer. Even more sorry you were so alone. We are such silly ladies, aren’t we? It’s high time we recognize the power of admitting our truest selves to those we love…all the fear, worry, wonderings. There is power in connecting, even if we aren’t fully understood, at least we don’t have to be alone. And yes…generosity with the “I love yous”. Amen to that.

      Blessing to you, dear. So glad YOU’RE healthy, too. XO

  11. Donna says:

    I’m so glad that you’re healthy and all right. Life is hard and sometimes we just don’t know how we can bear it. But I love the saying “You don’t know how strong you are until strong is the only choice.” Congratulations on your new lease on life and enjoy it! Hug those kids extra hard tonite.

  12. lissa says:

    My DH has lipomas, they began to appear over the last 4 years. At first we too were all sorts of freaked out. After meeting with the Dr & finding out they’re just fat, oh what a relief, and at the same time, oh phooey, there’s lumps of fat everywhere! Poor guy. One got so big we named him Fred. Fred was cut out of DH’s leg last year & he’s (DH) healed nicely. There are a few more to be removed just for looks/slight uncomfortableness, but the process is quick and relatively painless. Keep being you, mama. Love your writing and recipes.

    • Brooke says:

      Lisa- Thank you! What a relief to know it’s something that can be easily taken care of. So glad your DH is well! Hugs!

  13. Brooke says:

    Did I miss something or is the toasted marshmellow buttercream recipe not posted?

  14. Christa says:

    I am so glad for you that it was nothing. Well, it wasn’t nothing, was it? You learned quite a lot, I’d say. I am still learning it. I am still not comfortable dropping trou and showing my problems for everyone to see, but just recently I started being real with my sister who lives out of town. Instead of the “oh, everything’s fine, I’m doing good” when we talk on the phone, I really let myself tell her what’s going on in my life. I am so glad I did (and am).

    You seem like a lovely person and I love your blog. (I still miss the faces on the baked goods–I’ve mentioned this before–will eventually stop beating this particular horse :))

    If you’re ever in Phoenix we should have a cupcake at Sprinkles together.

    • Brooke says:

      Sprinkles? Cupcakes?! Absolutely!
      Thanks so much for your sweet comment. What a beautiful thing to have a sister with whom you can share the feelings of your heart. Hurrah for that!

  15. Lindsay says:

    Thank you Brooke. I think your right, we all do have something. I will keep you up to date, each day I pray when I attempt to go out that will be the day I don’t have an attack. But I’ve yet to have that day so we shall see. XO!

  16. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now and I have to say, of the 40 or so blogs I regularly drop in on, yours is one of my favorites. Your April 5th entry is so real and I think speaks to the fears of so many of us that I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your honesty and bravery in writing about it. I think because of the people it can impact and the way we want to be perceived we tend to be guarded when sharing in such a public forum, maybe too guarded. I think it’s important for you to remember though, people drop in and read you because they like YOU. Sure some are serial recipe hounds that are only looking at your blog so they can come up with breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but a lot of us read each and every word and look at your pictures and enjoy your joy in your family. I’m so glad your scare turned out to be nothing more than “polka dot” fat – such a funny term. You made me feel like I can deal with what’s going on in my life and come out the other side, hopefully, a better person for it. Thank you.

    • Brooke says:

      Tracy- THANK YOU for such a buoyant, kind comment. It absolutely made my day. Thank you for being a reader! I’m tremendously delighted to have you along.XO

    • Roslyn Krumm says:

      *Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website needs much more consideration. I’ll probably be again to read much more, thanks for that info.

  17. Rebecca says:

    My dearest Brooke,
    What a wonderful post. I think we all need to see ino the lives of others who we think “have it all together.” I think all Moms are faced with the perfectionism gene and try to portray that we can do it all and with excellence. The truth is the most days we are just trying to keep our head above water. You are an amazing and sincere woman. I can’t imagine the anxiety you were going through because if I remember right from our Colordo days you did tend to always worry about getting something. Sometimes, we need little kicks to make us realize what is important and true in our lives. I love you, friend.

    • Brooke says:

      Rebecca, I love you. And, I’d make you come right back to Colorado if you weren’t galumping through the forests of Germany with those gorgeous children of yours. Love you darlin’!

  18. Melissa says:


    I don’t think I’ve visited your blog before, and frankly, I don’t even remember how I got here today. But I came across this post and … wow. I can totally relate.

    I am in a similar situation right now, as I wait for an appointment with a surgeon, who will almost definitely order a biopsy. Like you, I’ve found peace (through trust in God) with whatever the outcome of the biopsy is. But the waiting is excruciating. I know we’ll deal with whatever comes back, but I want to know what we’re dealing with! And, also like you, I am considered low-risk. This isn’t supposed to happen.

    I appreciate your openness!

    • Brooke says:

      Melissa- I’m so sorry to hear. The wait is the WORST. You can almost deal with just about anything if you don’t have to wait long to know the answer.

      Many, many prayers going out to you. For peace, for healing, for full health. Please let me know how you are doing. God bless.

  19. Sally says:

    I “stumbled upon” your blog. Thank you for being open, honest, genuine in what you shared. I appreciate your candidness.

  20. Danielle says:

    I stumbled upon your blog looking for marshmallow cupcakes. One thing about going through trials in life have taught me that sometimes I need to reveal in order to heal. We weren’t met to live secret lives. This is a good thing. Its a risk to open up and let someone know what we really struggle with, but it can put guards down and allow truth in. btw thanks for the recipe.=)

  21. I have visions of me trying to eat one of these, the marshmallow smeared all across my face. Makes me smile :-)

  22. Brittany says:

    I just stumbled across your blog recently and this was the first post I read and it moved me with how honest you were…and how beautiful the pictures were. Plus Toasted Marshmallow Cupcakes sound awesome. I think I used too much coconut extract when I made a variation of this recipe because that’s the flavor I tasted the most but still to die for. Thank you for posting it.

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  25. Mariana says:

    I stumbled across your blog by following a link to one of your recipes… all I have to say is thank you! Been struggling with a lot of things for the last couple of years, it’s hard enough to open up when you’re going through rough patched in your life but what’s made it worse is that I usually expect more from people (sometimes I expect them to react like I would) and realization that family isn’t there like I thought they would is hard… maybe cause they don’t agree with my decisions, but it’s my life (and my 19 month old baby boy)… and sadly most people don’t realize that a simple “I love you, I’m here for you” is all the support you need them to show you…
    But hey, what doesn’t break you makes you stronger and like my parents always say “everything in life has a solution except death, even if the solution hurts”.. so here I am trying to keep my head up and a smile in my face, all for my little dude, but there are times by myself that I break down, I’ve had to learn it’s ok to show people how you’re really doing and u can do it looking them in the eyes never looking down…
    So again, all the way from Mexico… thank you for your encouraging words!

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