Vasilopita cupcakes: an unconventional New Year’s cake for an unconventional year
Purists and traditionalists may cringe at this post for vasilopita cupcakes, and we’re prepared for the fall out. We know that there are certain things that are sacred and should not be tampered with. Like garlic in tzatziki or bechamel on pastitsio. We get it, we really do!
But let’s face it guys, 2020 has been a very unusual and unconventional year and 2021 is starting off that way as well. It requires an unconventional New Year’s cake we think! In our part of the world we are in the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications are huge. Restaurants remain closed except for take-out, retail shops are now closed, schools are either closed or via distance learning, and gatherings of any kind are prohibited. For those who prefer to ring in the new year in the comfort of their bed, sleeping, this is great! For many others, this sucks – big time!
We have never been huge, glitzy New Year’s Eve party-goers. Our most memorable December 31st gatherings have been with family and friends, at home. We’ve hosted murder-mystery nights, game nights, fondue nights and we’ve had so much fun over the years that we often come close to missing the actual countdown to the New Year.
New Year’s Day itself has always been special. One of us celebrates her Nameday on January 1st, as does one of our dear cousins. For years, we gathered at our Aunt’s home where the grown-ups would convene upstairs and the cousins would sprawl out all over the basement, full from the holiday gorging. We would eat, watch movies, eat, play board games, eat, play video games…and then repeat. It was during gatherings like this that our usually loving cousin relationships would be shaken during the mad dash to Thea Voula’s cheesecake. Competition for the first and largest slice was almost as great as the competition of who would get to be the car during our Monopoly marathons.
Over the years, regardless of whose home New Year’s Day was celebrated in, among all the desserts there was always a vasilopita, the Greek New Year’s cake (some families make it as a bread) with a coin baked into it. As tradition has it, the vasilopita is cut and served to everyone present and the person who finds the coin is expected to have good luck in the coming year. You can read more about the meaning and symbolism of the vasilopita, as well as our family’s tradition, here in our original vasilopita recipe post.
But as we said when we started out, this is no usual year. This year, our extended family will not be gathering – we will remain in our own little family bubbles. Still, we will try to maintain much of what we typically enjoy about the day, even if it is different this year. We will still eat too much, we’ll play games (some of them through Zoom), and we will make and enjoy our vasilopita, but the 2021 vasilopita too will be a little different. The idea for this came from a Mia Kouppa friend over on Facebook who asked how to enjoy a vasilopita when it will only serve 2 people. That question gave rise to what we think is a great solution, our vasilopita cupcakes!
Although any other cake can have extra pieces easily frozen, that is not the case with vasilopita New Year’s cake. There is the coin to consider! Someone, even if it’s just one of two people, needs to find the piece with the coin; 2021 depends on it! So one option is to bake vasilopita cupcakes instead of an entire cake. You may find this idea either brilliant, or sacrilegious! We hope you think it’s brilliant!
Pin this recipe if you like it!
How can I be sure that someone will find the coin if I make vasilopita cupcakes?
Because the recipe which follows is essentially our original vasilopita recipe, it makes a lot of cupcakes, between 24 to 26 actually. Chances are you won’t need them all (otherwise, just make the cake!). To make this idea work, all you have to do is decide how many people will be served vasilopita on January 1st, and mark the same number of cupcakes with a nut. Into one of the nut-marked cupcakes be sure to insert the coin and then, when it is time to enjoy your vasilopita, offer one of the marked cupcakes to everyone present and eat carefully (choking on the coin is the opposite of good luck).
What can I do with my extra vasilopita cupcakes?
All extra vasilopita cupcakes can be frozen for future enjoyment (unless you plan to eat them all within a few days, in which case you can keep them at room temperature). New Year’s cake can be served after January 1st as well!
But, the added benefit of baking your vasilopita this way is that you can do curb-side delivery of vasilopita cupcakes to family and friends that you would have seen in person pre-pandemic. So, for example, you could keep 4 vasilopita cupcakes for your immediate family, deliver another 4 or 6 to your sister and her family, a couple to your parents, … you get the picture. Then you can all eat your vasilopita together on Zoom to see who gets the coin! How fun!
Looking for more individualized ideas? Look no further than here:
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