By Piya Mitra
Who doesn’t love cake? But most of us try to avoid it. All those calories! For those of us with a sweet tooth having to refuse that slice of cake causes a lot of heartbreak and inner turmoil and the few times that we do give in (few!! who am I kidding ? I give in almost every time) we are full of guilt.
Cupcakes give you the joy of eating cake without the guilt and it is no wonder they have become so popular in the past few years. The craze started in New York and LA. There was even a “Sex in The City” episode which featured Magnolia Bakery with Carrie and Miranda devouring cupcakes. Then there is Sprinkles Cupcakes in LA a favorite of most Hollywood stars. They opened a store at the Stanford Mall…lucky us!
Baking cupcakes is such a easy and affordable option that once you get the hang of it you’ll probably never order a cake again.( see the end of the article for a sample recipe) The trick to wowing everyone with your cupcakes is decorating them and there are many books , websites and YouTube videos available for you to get ideas from.
One of the easiest ways to decorate is with cupcake picks. You can pick up readymade picks from party stores or make them at home. Print two copies each of any design example tiaras or animals etc. Take a tooth pick and stick the printout on both sides of the tooth pick, ice your cupcake any color you like and stick in your picks. I recently made special Obama cupcakes for my daughter’s class on the Presidents inauguration day.
They were really easy to put together and the pride in my daughters eyes as she shared
them with her class was certainly worth the effort.
For birthday parties baking cupcakes are especially effective, most kids don’t eat much cake, but it is a essential part of the celebrations that can’t be done away with, so how about mini cupcakes? I use a mini muffin pan, they are just the right size and kids usually go for seconds. The trick to serving home made cupcakes is the presentation, choose a theme and research the decoration ideas. Last year my 8 yr old daughter had a High School Musical party and here is the cupcake tree I made for her.
Once you get the hang of baking cupcakes you can start having fun with them. For Valentines this year I made these really cute cupcake bouquets.
Last but certainly not the least I was able to use my hobby as a means to teach my children a lesson in charity. Last year my daughters sold cupcakes at the Induz volunteer
picnic and donated $50 to the organization.
Simplicity is the beauty of a cupcake, bake once and soon you’ll be Cupcake Crazy too!!
More details on cupcakes and other entertaining ideas at my blog.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
* 3 ? cups cake flour (not self-rising)
* ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
* 2 ¼ cups sugar
* 3 large eggs, at room temperature
* 6 tablespoons red food coloring
* 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
* 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 ½ teaspoons salt
* 1 ½ cups buttermilk
* 1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
* 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
* Frosting: 1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
* 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
* 5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place cupcake papers in the tins.
3. In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
5. In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overheat.
6. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
8. CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
9. Frosting: In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes.
10. Add the vanilla and beat well.
11. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy.
12. Cover and refrigerate icing for 2 to 3 hours, but no longer.
13. When the cupcakes have cooled, spread the frosting liberally on the cupcakes.
14. Makes 36 cupcakes.