Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hello, Cupcake! A Review and Project Test

Our little friend Emmy had a birthday this past week and it was her wish that she get a crocodile cake for her big party. As it turned out the book Hello, Cupcake! (by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson), which I've been wanted to check out for a while now, had instructions on how to make such a marvelous creature. As you can see we (we being myself and my wonderful, never used a piping bag before partner in confectionery crime) were able to turn out an end product that look pretty close to the photo in the book!

Hello, Cupcake! is an excellent resource for any baker's personal library and well worth the modest price tag! The bigger bonus is that you honestly do not need baking, cooking or decorator skills or any special equipment to turn out end products that look like the creations from the book. While I disagree with the authors on both the subject of cake and frosting (which I'll get to in a minute), I couldn't help but get lost in all the wonderful photographs and easy to follow directions. The cookies and candies that make up each project are readily available at more than one retail outlet in my area. In fact the only things I was unable to find for my project were white cupcake liners (my supplier was out) and green jelly beans (because I was unwilling to pay $4.50 for a bag when I only needed 2 beans).

"Old Swampy" as we made him consisted of 12 Chocolate Buttermilk cupcakes and 12 Buttermilk French Vanilla cupcakes tinted pink (to please the Birthday Girl) with Wilton "Rose" colored gel. He is frosted in homemade vanilla buttercream tinted with a mixture of Wilton "Leaf Green" and "Brown" gel tints. I followed the cake instructions in the back of Hello, Cupcake! and was very disappointed with the cakes themselves finding them a bit dry, bland in flavor and not at all as solid as the book suggests they will be. For future Hello, Cupcake! projects I will be sticking with my own tried and true cake recipes that have stood the test of time as being moist, dense and full of flavor. Hello, Cupcake! also claims that canned frosting works best for their projects however my own vanilla buttercream frosting pipes well and when refrigerated holds its shape even in the heat of an outdoor party (unlike canned frosting which gets drippy when it gets too warm)!

One of the other benefits of using my homemade frosting is that you can make up to 2 days before you plan on eating the end product and it actually improves the flavor! It's super easy to make and lends itself to an infinite variety of flavor possibilities!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 stick room temperature salted butter
2 1/2 C confectioner's sugar
2 t milk + a little more
1 t vanilla
1 t freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix on low until blended then kick it up to high and let it go for 3 minutes adding more milk if necessary for thinning. Store in an airtight container for up to 48 hours prior to use. Holds well in the fridge for the life of the finished cake product (they never seem to be around for more than a few days here!)


Anonymous said...

Great job you guys! I bet it tasted as good as it looked! Wanna make my birthday cake?

Samantha Stanley said...

I don't know if they have the same set-up out there, but at the super target across the street from me there's an entire aisle full of jelly belly dispensers - you buy as many or as little as you want. You might want to check into that, as I'm sure from time to time you'll be needing more small amounts of jelly beans. :)

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