Monday, November 30, 2009

Basic Decorating Supplies

Holiday baking will begin soon and every cupcake baker needs a few basic decorating supplies. You don't need much to get started.  In fact, I use one or two tips and a pastry bag to decorate most of my cupcakes.  You can go simple or go fancy.  I prefer the simple route unless I am making wedding cupcakes or going all out for a special occasion. 

Wilton has a great tutorial for each step in cupcake
decorating (and lots of other good stuff):

Decorating Basics

Types of frosting & frosting recipes

How to fill your cupcakes

Techniques to cover your cupcakes

Decorating your cupcakes

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recipe of the Week - Banana Cupcakes

Week 20

The day after Thanksgiving I do not shop...except to "click here to purchase."  Too many crowds for too few real bargains. The day after Thanksgiving I get out all of my holiday cookbooks and start selecting the goodies I will serve over the next few weeks.  I get reacquainted with the old standbys and every now and than I will discover a new recipe that I have overlooked.  Here is an old standby for everyday or holiday.

Banana Cupcakes

3/4 cup unsalted butter - room temperature
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups mashed bananas (very ripe)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a tme.  Add vanilla and beat well. 

Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk (beginning and ending with dry ingredients).  Fill liners 3/4 full and bake for 15-18 minutes.  Cool completely.

Use Seven-Minute Frosting or Cream Cheese Frosting - garnish with a banana slice or grated chocolate.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Cupcake Stand

Marshall's is one of my favorite stores & I found this cupcake stand there this week.  You can change the ribbon around the rim to match any special occasion.

Cupcake Necklace

I bought this Cookie Lee cupcake necklace
last night on eBay...

Santa's coming early this year!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cream Cheese Frosting...we must talk!

Before the holidays arrive and everybody starts making fabulous cupcakes, I must address the issue of cream cheese frosting.  Let me be clear...if you are going to make cream cheese frosting it MUST taste like cream cheese, not just a sweet buttercream with a little cream cheese added. 

Here is the recipe!

8 oz. cream cheese - room temperature
1 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups confectioner's sugar

P.S.  I am not unreasonable...I do approve of the addition of the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon or 1/2 cup of fruit puree.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Autumn Cupcake Collars

Want a craft project to keep the kids busy while you prepare your Thanksgiving feast?  These maple leaf, acorn and pumpkin cupcake collars are easy to make and will provide a festive presentation for your cupcakes!

Download the templates & instructions from Chica and Jo

insert the cupcakes into the holes...then apply frosting

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cupcake Advent Calendar...made from a mini muffin tin

The holiday season is upon us and you will probably need time to make this cute cupcake advent calendar so I am posting the video early. 

The materials are easy to find (Michael's or Wal-Mart) and you can get as creative as you like.  The video shows you how to make circles to cover each muffin space, but I am going to use a cupcake-shaped cookie cutter. 

Monday, November 23, 2009


Cupcake Stickers

I found these stickers and key cap yesterday at Borders
I am going to put a cupcake sticker next to my signature
on Christmas cards. 

Cupcake Key Cap

This cupcake key cap jazzes up my boring house key! 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Recipe of the Week - Cardamom Carrot Cupcakes

Week 19

Thanksgiving is four days away and this week's recipe would be a welcome dessert to follow any Thanksgiving meal.  On a fly-fishing trip to Alaska I came across a cookbook from Winterlake Lodge. Kirsten Dixon (an internationally acclaimed chef) and her husband Carl have spent their lives building remote Alaskan lodges and serving great cuisine.  Kirsten's recipes are just "good home-cookin" and are easy to prepare. 

Two years after I found the Winterlake Lodge Cookbook I went on an Alaskan adventure of my own.  My husband Bo and I took a float plane to Winterlake Lodge (the only way to get there).  I met Kirsten and was privileged to take a cooking class in her Winterlake Lodge kitchen.  What an experience!  The cookbook is more than just a cookbook.  It is the story of their lives in Alaska with recipes sprinkled throughout.  Even if you don't like being in the kitchen, you will enjoy every page of this cookbook. 

Buy the Winterlake Lodge Cookbook and make the Cardamom Carrot Cake recipe(page 217) but instead of making cake layers, I made cupcakes.  Top them with crushed pecans or walnuts for an elegant presentation.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Cupcake Picks

Decorate your Thanksgiving cupcakes the easy way....just add a cupcake pick!

(these are available from the Confectionary House)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cupcake Pajamas

All I want for Christmas....

Cupcake Pajamas!

available from  The Cat's Pajamas

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mad Hatter Cupcakes (Las Vegas)

The third cupcake bakery I visited in Las Vegas was Mad Hatter Cupcakes.  I almost didn't go there because I didn't think I had time to find it before going to the airport.  But I was driving along and just happened to look up and see the very street the bakery was on.  I am soooo glad I didn't miss this bakery!

Mad Hatter Cupcakes is unique because the cupcakes are not pre-frosted.  You choose your cake flavor and then choose the frosting. They have a gorgeous laminated menu card - which you can take home for later use and they have punch cards so that you can eventually get free cupcakes.  The staff explained how the process works (choosing your cake & frosting flavors) and then quickly filled my order. 

I bought a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream.  Both cakes were moist and the flavor of the cake was distinct.  As you already know, I can be a tough critic on cream cheese frosting.  This cream cheese was the best I tried in Las Vegas - but still needs more cream cheese (in my southern opinion).  The vanilla buttercream was excellent - sweet and smooth and full of vanilla flavor.  I was offered fillings and toppings but declined. I just wanted cake and frosting with no distractions.

My cupcake adventure at Mad Hatter Cupcakes was fantastic.  I will go back every time I visit Las Vegas.  I may even plan my next trip around their cupcakes!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cupcake Cakes

Last week I posted a picture of a Thanksgiving turkey cupcake cake and in Las Vegas I visited cupcake bakeries offering cupcake cakes. 

What is a cupcake cake?  It is a bunch of cupcakes frosted so that they look like one cake. 


Mardi Gras


Happy Birthday Gabi


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cupcake Lane Bakery (Las Vegas)

The second stop on my cupcake tour of Las Vegas was the Cupcake Lane Bakery.  I had been following them on other cupcake blogs and the reviews were good so I wanted to taste for myself. 

I Googled the directions so I didn't have as much trouble navigating as the day before.  The bakery is nicely decorated and practically begs you to stay and eat a cupcake.  I bought two cupcakes:  Savannah Street (red velvet) and Michigan Ave (lemon).  Both cakes were moist and delicious.  The frostings were delicious too....but you already know what I am going to say about the cream cheese frosting on the red velvet cupcake (needs more cream cheese).  Thank you for using real buttercream and not those meringue-based buttercreams.  Let's hear it for the sugar! 

They also offer cupcake cakes...which are cupcakes frosted as one cake and shaped into whatever you can come up with.  Very unique idea that you don't see available very often.  I will definitely be visiting this bakery again. 

Savannah Street
red velvet cupcake

Michigan Ave
lemon cake with buttercream

Cupcake Cakes...all shapes & sizes

Monday, November 16, 2009

Retro Bakery (Las Vegas)

One of my goals while I was in Las Vegas last week was to visit the Retro Bakery.  I had been following them on Twitter and had seen postings about them on the Cupcakes Take the Cake blog.  Their slogan "It's All About the Buttercream" made me even more curious to visit. 

I rented a car at the airport and started driving using the rental car map.  A GPS really would have helped.  A little over an hour later I arrived at the bakery.  It turned out to be about 15 minutes from where I started...except I had chosen the longest possible route.  I was really ready to try a cupcake!

The bakery staff was very helpful and there was another customer in the shop who was having a wedding cake consultation.  They don't just do cupcakes.  I bought two cupcakes - a red velvet with cream cheese icing and a lemon cupcake with pink buttercream and sugar sprinkles.  The cakes were moist and tasty.  The cream cheese icing was very smooth & sweet but needed more cream cheese (you know how I feel about cream cheese icing).  The buttercream was also smooth and sweet.  I am not a fan of sugar decorations because I don't like the "crunch" but it was a very pretty presentation.

Check out the Retro Bakery Blog for more information and photos!

Pink Lemonade

Red Velvet Cupcake

Retro Bakery

A great slogan!

They have other products too!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Recipe of the Week - Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes

Week 18

Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes

It is almost holiday time and everyone is busy.  Betty Crocker Recipes has an easy red velvet cupcake recipe that will save time and is dee-lish!  Of course it goes without saying that you are going to put a good ole southern cream cheese frosting on these. 

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® German chocolate cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 bottle (1 oz) red food color (I use 1/2 tsp. of the Wilton red "no taste" coloring) 
1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans) and prepare cupcake liners.

Beat all cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Fill liners 1/2 full.  Bake as directed on box for cupcakes. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bette Midler & Cupcakes!

I went to see Bette Midler in Las Vegas Wednesday night and what a fantastic show!  If you have the opportunity I highly recommend it.  While I was there I visited three cupcake bakeries and will be reviewing them over the next several days.  Stay tuned!

Cupcake Lane Bakery

Retro Bakery

Mad Hatter Cupcakes

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cupcakes in Sudan!

Sudan is a huge country in Africa so I can't say for sure....but I think I have photos of the first cupcakes ever made in Sudan.  My husband Bo is currently working at Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, a remote village in southern Sudan.  I sent a pumpkin cupcake mix and tub of applesauce with him so he could make cupcakes there.  The mix required one egg - a luxury item that I did not expect him to be able to provide.  Thank you to the kitchen staff for sacrificing that egg!

The hospital kitchen has a wood-fired stove and the kitchen staff prepared the mix and baked the cupcakes.  I sent free-standing liners so no pan would be necessary.  The final product was a pumpkin cupcake with jam for icing...Sudanese cupcake success! 

Shukran (Arabic for "thank you") to the hospital kitchen staff for making the cupcakes and to Bo for photographing the process.