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The Cupcake Lover's Gift Collection

The Cupcake Lover's Gift Collection

Wonderful Cupcakes Even for Decorating Dummies

Dennis Weaver

I'm a decorating dummy. We have plenty of people that that are naturally talented but somehow, I missed that line. I can make reasonably attractive cupcakes by sticking with a few basic techniques. I can make cupcakes that taste good. And that's my priority making them taste good. But they still need to be reasonably attractive.

How to Make Your Cupcakes Taste Better

Because its easy, I usually use a box cake mix. But a box wont win any culinary awards. So I enhance my box cupcakes, and make them taste better in the following manner:

  • Add goodies to the batter. Usually, I add cinnamon chips or raspberry, strawberry, or blueberry tidbits. You can add nuts or coconut. You can add chocolate or other baking chips. Add 3/4 to one cup chips or tidbits. Fold them in after the batter is mixed so that they don't melt in mixing and tint your batter.
  • Add flavors and colors to the batter. You have an incredible array of flavor choices with warm flavors like butterscotch or caramel and fruit flavors from apricot to blackberry. To get enough flavor, it will usually take two teaspoons flavor. Add a coordinating color. Americolor professional food color gels come in 27 colors.
  • Add a filling. I don't remember the last time that I made cupcakes without a filling. Its just too easy and adds too much. Use premade pastry fillings. Snip a quarter-inch corner off the bag, insert the cut corner in the top of the cupcake, and squeeze. When you frost the cupcakes, you'll cover the holes. You can fill a dozen cupcakes in a minute. I use Bavarian cream pastry filling most often but I also love raspberry and lemon. They're all good.
  • Make the frosting good. There are a ton of great frosting recipes out there. I love butter and cream cheese based frostings. Seven Minute Frosting is very good. I dont care for shortening. A half teaspoon of flavor and couple drops of color can transform an ordinary frosting into something memorable.
  • Add toppings that taste good. Most toppings are sugar and color. They're for show, not flavor. And I'm not too fond of big chunks of candy on my cupcakes. Our new favorite toppings are the chopped bark toppings. They pack a lot of flavor. If you load your cupcakes up, you ll add a layer of flavor to your cupcakes.

You can add more flavor to your cupcakes by spreading a layer of jam or pastry filling over the cupcakes before adding frosting. That's especially easy to do if you're piping frosting onto the cupcakes rather than spreading the frosting.

How to Make Your Cupcakes Pretty

Even a decorating dummy like me can make cupcakes reasonably pretty. I love making Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes (theyre very good) because all I have to do is dip the cupcake tops in melted chocolate and let the chocolate set. But here are some other suggestions:

  • Use pretty colors and pretty decorations. There is no reason not to use pretty colors and colorful decorations. We have 27 colors, 16 colors of jimmies, and decorating sugars not just in standard colors but less used colors from black to sage. Chopped bark toppings are two-toned, are pretty, and add flavor. Decorations go a long way in masking imperfections in the frosting.
  • Don't be afraid of a pastry bag. For most cupcakes, we use a pastry bag; its faster and easier than spreading frosting. If we have a lot of cupcakes to do, we use a large disposable pastry bag and either a star tip or a round tip.

A Note about Bark Toppings: To Sprinkle or Dip?

Bark like almond bark is a confectioners delight, a melding of white chocolate with another candy. This bark is cut into pieces perfect for cookies, cakes, and cupcakes. The nuggets are full of flavor. They are also pretty, two-toned.

If you are only interested in pretty, sprinkle the toppings on your cupcakes. (Be sure and set the cupcakes on a plate so that you can recover any sprinkles that slide off the cupcakes.) If you want pretty and flavor, dip your cupcakes to get more decorations on your cupcakes. To do so, fill a small bowl with topping--a bowl slightly larger than a cupcake is perfect. And then invert the cupcakes into the bowl with a rocking motion to cover the top with pieces.

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