by Valerie Phillips
Cupcakes: They have arrived.
In 2005, our food section reported that cupcakes were making a comeback and were no longer relegated to kids' birthday parties or as just part of the holiday recipes.
At the time, Utah bakeries were jazzing up these mini-treats with a variety of fillings, frosting and toppings.
Since then, several "cupcakeries" -- such as So Cupcakes, Mini's and Diva's Cupcakes & Coffee -- have opened in Utah, following the lead of big-city spots such as the Magnolia Bakery in New York and Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills.
Now it's pretty common to find these mini-cakes served at weddings, and as part of the Thanksgiving traditions or other creative party theme ideas.
Valentine's Day is a great time to brush up on cupcake cuisine, as they lend themselves to hearts, flowers and all kinds of cutesy decorations and can add some fun to Valentine party ideas.
What's the draw? Maybe it's portability. They are easy to enjoy -- they don't require a knife and fork.
Maybe it's the built-in portion control, if you can stick to just one.
Maybe it's part retro-food fun, since a lot of the cupcakeries sport a "girlie" ambiance with pink ruffles-and-flourishes decor that would never be mistaken for a steakhouse. And perfect, by the way, for sweet 16 party ideas.
However, at Diva's Cupcakes & Coffee, there were several male customers reading and chatting in the paradise-like domed greenhouse area. Diva's seems to be a place to relax, as there's also a little nook with a bookshelves and board games.
Mini's has an old-fashioned parlor ambiance. So Cupcakes has a bulletin board where hundreds of customers have posted snapshots with thoughts like, "So ... Princess." "So ... sweet," or "So ... addicted."
At the cupcakeries we visited, cupcakes were $1.25-$2.50 each, depending on the size and type.
Some cookbooks devoted wholly to cupcakes include "Cupcakes: Luscious Bakeshop Favorites From Your Home Kitchen," by Shelly Kaldunski and "Cupcakes! From the Cake Mix Doctor," by Anne Byrn.
Kaldunski's book features beautiful photography and demonstrates frosting and garnishing techniques.
Byrn's book is a continuation of her popular "The Cake Doctor" series, where she creatively "doctors" boxed cake and muffin mixes.
So whether you want to go out and buy cupcake treats, or bake up a batch at home, there are plenty of options.z
You can devise with your own cupcake creations, by mixing, matching and embellishing the following components:
1. The cake: You can go from basic batters to a variety of flavors.
Ideas include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cherry, carrot cake, butter, coconut, German chocolate, Red or Purple Velvet, pumpkin, zucchini, banana, mint, mint chocolate, spice, lemon, gingerbread
2. Mix-ins: These can be stirred into the cake batter.
Ideas include coconut, raisins, chocolate chips, M&Ms or other candies, granola, dried fruit bits, nuts, marshmallows, poppy seeds.
3. Fillings: These can be baked into the cake, or you can split or hollow the baked cakes to insert a filling.
Ideas include fruit jams, peanut butter, pudding, fruit pie filling, lime or lemon curd, caramel, cheesecake, an unwrapped Hershey's Kiss, or a layer of frosting.
4. Frosting: These can be satiny smooth, fluffy or even chunky.
Ideas include German chocolate topping, butter-cream, whipped cream, caramel, meringue, pudding, fruit pie filling, fudge, marshmallow creme.
5. Garnishes: These can complement or contrast with the rest of the cupcake.
Ideas include coconut, maraschino cherries, fresh fruit, nuts, sprinkles, colored sanding sugar, a sprinkling of cinnamon or other spice, toffee bits, candied fruit, crushed candy canes, tiny cookies, candy, sugared edible flowers, chocolate curls, animal crackers, crushed cookies, granola, zest (grated outer rind) of lemons, orange or limes.
6. Shapes and sizes: Look at cookware stores for different sizes and shapes in pans and liners.
Options include the one-bite mini size, the mega-muffin size or mini-Bunt cakes. Reynolds offers aluminum foil cupcake pans in star, heart, egg and Halloween shapes to correspond with holidays.
DOUBLE LOVE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
1 package chocolate cake mix
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup oil
36 (or more) Hershey's Kisses, heart-shaped if possible
18-20 cupcake liners and muffin tins
Fudge Frosting (recipe follows)
Whipped cream or vanilla frosting, optional
With an electric mixer, beat together cake mix, cocoa, water, oil and eggs. Place cupcake liners in muffin tins and fill each liner 2?3 full with batter. Place an unwrapped Hershey's Kiss on each cup of batter. Don't push it into the middle; it will sink during baking.
Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until cake springs back when pushed lightly with a finger. Allow to cool. With a knife or spoon, frost each cake with Fudge Frosting while frosting is slightly warm. If desired, drop a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla frosting on each cake and top with a Hershey's Kiss. Makes 18-20 cupcakes.
by Valerie Phillips Deseret News
Deseret News (Salt Lake City)