Pretty In Pink Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream {in loving memory}

I write today’s post with a heavy heart. Earlier this year, my cousin Megan experienced something a mom should never ever have to experience: the loss of her four year old daughter, Rowan Olivia.

Today would have been Rowan’s 5th birthday.

I wanted to do something special to remember this beautiful, joyous little girl, so I made cupcakes. Fun pink cupcakes. With hearts. Because to me–that’s Rowan. Laughter, hearts, smiles, and love.

Make these cupcakes. Or any cupcakes. Make them for your daughter. Make them for a friend’s daughter. Make them for a niece. Make them for a stranger. Make them in memory of Rowan. Celebrate life–it is extremely precious and fragile.

While you’re baking, say a prayer.

Say a prayer for Megan. Pray that God gives her strength and courage to look back on the memories of her daughter with a smile on her face today. Pray that she finds peace and comfort in the times when she needs to cry.

Say a prayer for all moms and dads that have experienced this unimaginable type of loss.

And eat the cupcakes with a smile on your face, remembering the wonderful times you have spent with your family and friends. Cherish every one of those moments.


Pretty in Pink Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

These pretty in pink cupcakes are perfect for a girl’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, or just because.

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for the cupcakes:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups milk
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon raspberry extract (optional)
~1/8 teaspoon pink gel food coloring
3 large eggs

for the buttercream:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened dark baking chocolate, melted & cooled
3-4 tablespoons milk or cream


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins with 24 cupcake liners. Make sure they are pink and/or very fun.
2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), beat all ingredients together on low-speed for approximately 30 seconds or until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Increase speed to high for 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed.
3. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 18 minutes or until cupcakes are set and spring back when touched lightly. Cool completely on wire rack.

For the frosting

1. In a medium bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and chocolate on low-speed until blended. Gradually add in milk to make frosting smooth. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes or spread on with a knife.

adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook

All images and text ©Rachel Cooks.

When you make a recipe from my site tag it with #RachelCooks!
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  1. Pingback: 25 Decadent Chocolate Valentine's Day Desserts » Rachel Cooks

  2. Hi Rachel, this is my first visit to your blog. I saw these cupcakes on foodgawker, smitten with the hearts and pink. Never did I expect to be brought to tears after clicking. My heart is with you all. I have prayed for the entire family and will continue to do so. Your tribute and post are so beautiful, as we can feel the love Rowan gave. I will bake a special batch of cupcakes to honor her and celebrate life.

    I make handmade cards, the majority for charitable purposes (kids in hospitals, cancer patients, grieving families, etc.)… and my crafty heart cannot help but want to make a card for Megan. I don’t know if you would be comfortable with that since it would require an address. If that doesn’t settle well with you, maybe I could at least make it and then email you a picture of it to show her? If it would help with a decision, I’ve included my blog addy with my info. My most recent post (as of now) is a Christmas card for a child spending the holidays in the hospital, via a cause I faithfully create for called I Feel the Love. I apologize for this novel-length comment. I just want to reach out in the best way I know how… making a card to deliver love, hugs, and blessings.

    • Wow, thank you Karen! Your cards are really something—you must spend a lot of time on them! You can absolutely email me a photo of a card and I will pass it on to Megan. I’ll also get in touch with her about giving out her mailing address. Thanks again!

      • Hi Rachel! I am ecstatic for the opportunity to spread a little sunshine into her heart! Thank you for the kind words on my cards. Indeed each one is time consuming, but every hour spent on the tiny details is worth it. :) I hope Megan likes what I will soon make for her. Thank you! :) Have a beautiful day!

  3. OMG you made me crying so much, I think whenever I see or making any pink cupcake, I will remember that story, the litte girl with angel smile and praying for her with all of my heart. So sorry for her mom :(

  4. Iv’e been fighting all day it feels like, with my 7 year old because well..she knows everything and I know nothing :/ Posts like this puts everything in perspective.
    Another angel…..

  5. How nice that you were able to make something special to honor Rowan. We lost our oldest son just after his 3rd birthday. I have not been able to celebrate the day, even 9 years later, but my husband always bakes a cake to help our younger children remember. I am truly sorry that your cousin and your family have had to endure this loss.

  6. Rachel what a beautiful post…

  7. My first visit to your blog and I’ve got tears in my eyes! I don’t even have to know that sweet girl, you can just see how wonderful she was from the photos. My heart goes out to her family and to all that have lost children-I just can’t imagine that type of pain. I’m glad you chose to celebrate her life this way, the cupcakes are perfect. (BTW, a blogger friend, Sarah of the Pajama Chef, sent me here to tell you about my online bake sale fundraiser but since we’re just meeting, it feels weird! I’ll let you read my blog if you have the time or interest but no pressure! lol)

  8. Such a touching post, Rachel. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’ll be praying for you, and your cousin today.

  9. so sorry for your loss, rachel. what a lovely way to remember rowan by!

  10. Beautiful post and the perfect way to remember this beautiful girl!

  11. Rachel, I am praying for your cousin Megan and for Rowan’s daddy as well. Losing a child is a tragedy. My little brother died in 1967 at age 3 and I have never gotten over the loss. I have a 4 yr old grandson and I don’t know if I could survive if something happened to him.

    God bless your family today and everyday.

  12. Rachel, what a beautiful post. I will definitely pray for your family today.

  13. What a touching sweet post. Can’t imagine ever losing a child, so nice of you to do something to remember her. They look perfect!

  14. such a touching and sweet post, Rachel. my heart and prayers go out to them and you. I love Carrian’s quote above. so so true. xoox

  15. There are no words for a parent losing a child. Hugs for you and your family as you remember such a special little girl.

  16. A beautiful bittersweet post, thanks for sharing this. I’ve lost my neice and I in some way understand what you re going through. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  17. Rachel, this is such a lovely post. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you and any others touched by this experience. May you all have the peace you need at this time. “For they were too pure, too lovely to have lived on this earth”. Love you

  18. You are right Rachel, no mom should ever experience anything so horrible. I will keep their family in my thoughts and prayers.

  19. This is beautiful, Rachel. Definitely praying, I cannot imagine this kind of loss.

  20. Many prayers for your cousin and entire family who is suffering over this great loss. Beautiful memorial post, Rachel! :(

  21. I have said a prayer for all those who loved little Rowan Olivia but most especially for her Mom. I am a Mom of three healthy children and I do not even want to try to imagine the pain of the loss of a child. I am at my shop and I won’t get home in time to make cupcakes tonight but I will tomorrow for my kids in the memory of that adorable face of Rowan Olivia. I send a bear hug to your Cousin Megan from cyber space.

  22. A beautiful post Rachel. This is heartbreaking and I am very sorry for your family’s loss. I can not imagine the pain of losing a child. Saying special prayers for Megan and the rest of your family today. I long for the day when there will be no more tears and no more pain.

  23. As someone who has lost someone close to me as well, my heart breaks for your family. How wonderful that you could do something so sweet to honor her life. <3

  24. I’m making these cupcakes and definitely saying a prayer for Megan. How terribly heartbreaking.

  25. I love that you turned a sad day into something bright and positive. My thoughts go out to you and your family. xoxo

  26. What a sweet post, with wonderful kind words. My heart hurts for the family, I pray they are finding peace today.

  27. Oh Rachel, there are no words. Nobody should ever have to go through what your cousin and the whole of your family has gone through. My thoughts are with you all; I’m sure Rowan would have loved these pink cupcakes.

  28. What a beautiful post, Rachel. My heart breaks for your cousins loss of her adorable daughter. These are such a sweet way to remember her. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you.

  29. This breaks my heart. What a great way to celebrate a life. You cupcakes look beautiful. Thoughts and prayers to your cousin and the rest of your family. No parent should feel that kind of loss. <3<3<3

  30. What a beautiful memorial treat. I can’t imagine how it must feel for you or your family to have to go through this… Sometimes, I wish I was better with words so that I could offer more comfort. But this is a beautiful way to remember such a beautiful little girl.

  31. This is heartbreaking. I am so sorry for your cousin’s loss; your whole family’s loss. As the mom of a four-year-old girl, I cannot even imagine what Megan is going through. I will definitely be praying for her today.

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