Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cupcakes, Cupcakes

What's the big deal about cupcakes?

With the rising popularity of designer cupcake shops in LA like Sprinkles, Toast, Crumbs, Vanilla Bake Shop, not to mention the Magnolia Bakery in NYC, it seems that there's a high-end cupcake shop opening up in every neighborhood these days, along with some sort of hypnotic I-will-wait-in-line-for-over-30-minutes just to buy a waaay over-priced round of sugary fluff. It's mass-hysteria in my opinion, another craze following the same trajectory that Pinkberry did for frozen yogurt, or Krispy Kreme did for hot sugary glazed donuts.

What's the deal? I mean, they're cupcakes, folks. Cupcakes. Buy a $2 box of cake mix and bake 'em off in muffin tins, or bake your own recipe, but c'mon. Cupcakes. Not. Rocket. Science.

I have no big pull towards them personally. I mean, I think they're ok, if not just a big mouthful of overly-sickly sweetness, but my daughter loves them. Reveres them. So, being the devoted mother and wonder baker that I sometimes am, occasionally I indulge that desire for her. Like yesterday…

What to do on a dreary, gray Saturday? House-bound and bored...

I know.



With an assorted rainbow of sprinkles. (Decorating's her thing.)

Donning aprons with hair tied up in ponies, we got to mixing and baking, licking and scraping, and soon we had ourselves a batch of fresh vanilla cupcakes with buttery vanilla frosting. (I tried selling other flavors, such as chocolate, black and white, orange blossom, or rose water decorated with candied rose petals, even adding some freshly grated Meyer lemon peel to the frosting, but to no avail. Miss S loves the classic: vanilla, vanilla.)

Vanilla it was.

I laid out all the decorative sugars, sprinkles, and candied rose petals for her to decorate her little heart out, somewhat uninspired and disappointed we weren't creating a more magical "fairy blossom" flavored frosting at the very least. (She's waaaay into fairies these days. She's even writing and illustrating her very own "Fairy Book.")

Then, inspiration hit me. She could sprinkle away, but I was going to try something different.

I had a box of Dots and some leftover Tootsie rolls, (dare I say that they might have been from Halloween?) I took my extra sharp Shun Santoku knife, rubbed a little oil along the blade to prevent it from sticking, and sliced each Dot into 5 or 6 thin nearly transparent wheels of stained-glass candy color. Perfect little petals. Then I sliced and rolled "stems" out of the Tootsie rolls, and discovered that pistachios would form perfectly green-tinged "leaves."

Magic fairy flower cupcakes. As pretty to look at as they are to eat.

And here are the Divine Miss S's creations:
(Even she got into the flower power eventually.)


riversgrace said...

These are absolutely beautiful, T. Always amazed at what you create and whip up. That you had all the ingredients and creatively channeled those I love when you chronicle your cooking and baking.

paul maurice martin said...

Cupcakes can also get you in good with teachers and classmates. My mom used to make these Santa Clause cupcakes when I was in grade school. I didn't actually like them that much - no chocolate - but they looked so good you pretty much had to eat at least one.

Looks count for a lot when you're a cupcake I guess.

Jerri said...

SUCH fun to see these, T. They're cute as can be.

Like you, I'm not terribly fond of cupcakes. To eat. I LOVE to make and decorate them, though. They're little palettes for pretty.

Miss M seems to have a fast track to her mother's touch. Quite a little cupcake decorator, she is.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Just looking at those makes me want to stand in line for 30 minutes to buy one! Take an A!

Jess said...

Beautiful. Most beautiful cupcakes I've seen. I don't quite get the craze either, but it's fun. There's a place called Saint Cupcake here in Portland... Some little girls I know looove it.