I’ll try not to get weepy when I tell you that I’ve baked for my friend Hillary’s son Bishop every year on his birthday since his very first party. Aside from baking all of Teno’s birthday cakes from scratch, it’s one of my rare little claims to mommy fame.

The Krantz comes through for me once again!

My baking has definitely grown with Bishop. I’d just started baking and blogging when he turned one. His party was monster-themed and I was too shaky with a piping bag to do much besides stick monster toys atop each cupcake. The next year I was a little more confidant and experimented with different kinds of edible dirt and garbage for his municipal vehicles-themed party. Last year I was the party hero for having sourced miniature beer cans to use as the crowning jewel atop Bishop’s RV camper-themed cupcakes. And this year he surprised me with a theme so classic I really had to scratch my head to make the cupcakes different – cowboys!

Hillary goes all out for these parties, and this one was no exception. Each child received a cowboy hat, mustache, a handmade pony stick and a goodie bag full of candy and toys. My contribution? Bishop’s Cowboy Beans Cupcakes and Olde Vanilly Corn Cakes.

I’ve been wanting to make a “baked bean” cupcake forever. Chicago is home to Ferrara Pan candy company, makers of Boston Baked Beans, so you can’t really walk into a drug store here without seeing them along side Lemonheads, Red Hots and Atomic Fireballs. Boston Baked Beans are just candy-coated peanuts, so I figured Julie Hasson’s recipe for chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and peanut butter frosting would be the perfect match.

I asked my friend Ken Rosenkrantz, who also designed my Bake and Destroy Goat merchandise, to use this cupcake wrapper template and create a wrapper that looked like a can of beans. He included Bishop’s initials and year of birth as well, which made them extra cute. Once the cakes were cooled and topped with a mound of peanut butter frosting, I taped the wrappers on and poured Boston Baked Beans over the top. I needed about 3 boxes to cover all 12 cupcakes, and honestly, I could have used one more box to make them look like really full cans.

Historically accurate or not, these are cute.

Corn on the cob cupcakes. Ok, first of all – I don’t think cowboys even ate corn on the cob. I’m fairly certain they had to bring things that would keep well, and that they didn’t necessarily have to cook. But I already made the decision that they eat canned beans, so why stop now? I baked a dozen of Billy’s Vanilla Vanilla cupcakes (and actually doubled the vanilla in this recipe) and topped them with pale yellow-tinted vanilla buttercream. (I like AmeriColor, if you’re wondering.) Then, using Hello, Cupcake’s method, I turned them into ears of corn using various shades of yellow, cream and white Jelly Bellys.

I think Bishop had a pretty happy birthday, and I had lots of fun making these. I can’t wait to see what kooky theme he comes up with next year, and I will be extra sad when he gets too old for cupcakes from his friend Natalie!

(Hey! SugarSlam 2011 entries are due Monday, July 11 so get to work! And check out Ian’s Pizza’s video about their Cm Punk-inspired GTS pizza!)