Posts tagged ‘Cupcakes ‘

Cupcake Mountain, Wilmington, North Carolina

Read all about my trip to North Carolina for my firned Chrissy’s wedding, and the wedding cake I made for them, which will be hence for known as Cupcake Mountain.


Add a comment November 28, 2012

Pin Up Cupcakes, The Seven Year Itch

Marilyn Monroe is my favorite pin-up of all time.  Yes, I know thats rarely a shock when it come to choosing the hottest-coolest-hollywood screen legend-actress-siren-icon… Ever.  I’ve seen just about every movie shes made with few exceptions.  Some Like it Hot is timeless; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes I adore; and How to Marry a Millionaire should not be missed.

I dressed up like her for halloween on two different occassions.  The first time I was mistaken for a drag queen in the West Village.  The second time was more successful, despite the fact that I achieved the goal of making my costume in under a day…White bedsheets aren’t only good for ghost costumes.

My Fridge got dressed up for the Marilyn Cupcakes...

So why not dress up your cupcakes??  I’ve been working on recipes of cupcakes inspired by some of the most timeless ladies of stage and screen.  Be sure to stay tuned for Vivienne Leigh, Audrey Hepburn, and Marlene Deitrich. The following recipe is inspired by Marilyn Monroe and one of the most famous scenes in cinema history.  Marilyn’s dress billowing above the subway grate in The Seven Year Itch.

My canisters got dressed up too.

This Recipe comes from Martha Stewart, also an icon in her own right.

Mini Pavlovas

4 large egg whites

1 tsp vanilla ext

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 1/4 cups superfine sugar 

Beat egg whites, vanilla and tartar on low till soft peaks form. Add 1 cup superfine sugar, also known as castor sugar, 2 tbsp at a time.  Beat on medium until stiff peaks form.  Fold in the last 1/4 cup of sugar.

Peaks will stand pointed (not slump over) when you achieve stiff peaks.

Pipe batter into baking cups with a pastry bag.  (or just use a large ziplock with a hole cut in the corner. ) 

Bake for just about an hour at 200 degrees.  Meringues should be dry on the outside with a soft center.


8oz cream cheese

1 c Greek whole milk yogurt

2 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar.

Cream ingredients together.  This frosting is really a great compliment to the super sweet pavlovas.  Add a cupcake topper of your favorite starlit for the ultimate garnish.

1 comment November 22, 2009

Why Hello, Cupcake!!

So what are you gonna do with all that Halloween candy??  I’m guessing you either have a bowl full of Snickers and Reese’s which you are steadily polishing off or you had to turn your lights low early in the evening cause you ran out of sweets… but either way you’ve gotten stuck with a munch-worthy sack full of candy your kids brought home?

I always hate that bowl of riff raff leftovers after about a week or so, you know after the Kit Kats and Butterfingers are gone all thats left is over sized Tootsie Rolls, some pennies, and Neco Waffers—ewww!  Heres an idea: make some cupcakes inspired by: Hello, Cupcake! Irresistibly playful creations anyone can make.


So I was a little skeptical of this book at first.  I like to focus on the way cupcakes taste.  Ask anyone about my Guin-Bomb cupcakes (Yeah thats right! Chocolate Guiness infused cake topped off Bailey’s and Jamison Frosting…Stay tuned for St. Patty’s Day posts).  I typically top my cupcakes with some frosting piped with a fancy piping tip and call it day. They are devoured in minutes.  

 I tend save the extra energy for bigger cake projects where I take a long weekend from work and go nuts Ace of Cakes style carving cake and rolling fondant, but imagine you can spend a mere morning in the kitchen and come out with a cool project to celebrate say um… Shark week?  See below:

This book is great inspiration for anyone who wants to lead a project that involves kids.  And all the of the ingredients are found in your average grocery store, between the candy and baking aisle.  You don’t need a wonderfully well trained hand to pipe flowers etc.  In fact Karen Tack and Richard Alston (the authors) suggest plenty of already-in-your-kitchen supplies in order to achieve many of their projects.  No decorating saavy required.  

Check out some of their fall inspired cupcakes in this video or Come to my fall cupcakes class on November 8th and you can make them with me (click the Classes page for details)


One of the most clever and cutest cake projects they offer is their idea of Spring/ Easter inspired cupcakes.

Yes those are little bunny butts.  I think its a great idea.  Most of these projects like I’ve mentioned require candy from M&Ms to green taffy, to black licorice. Depending on your taste buds or your metabolism these might not be around your kitchen on the average day, so that picked over bowl of Halloween Candy might be just the perfect inspiration to make some cupcakes.  

Perhaps you can use your green M&M’s, some Oreo cookie crumbs and jelly beans to do this project below…and remind yourself that…its time to eat more vegetables.

Add a comment November 4, 2009

Here comes the Bride

This past weekend I was in my friends wedding.  In fact I was the M.O.H.  Maid of Honor.  Sarah and I have been friends for along time  and I had joked for years about how I’d tell the story of how we met at her wedding, so its surreal that the day has actual come and past.

sarah's wedding 4

This dubious job of being MOH comes with many responsibilities including planning the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and holding the train of the gigantic dress up while the lady of the hour has to pee.  I’ll breifly paraphrase the toast i gave at the reception…aka the story of how we met. Ahem.

The first mutual memory Sarah and I have of each other is one fateful day during snack time in kindergarten.  Sarah wasn’t feeling good and puked purple grape juice all over my desk.  We’ve been friends ever since…

I’ll save all the tear jerky lines about how much I love both her and her new husband Sean and how the first impressions people make on us aren’t always important, and what makes someone special is that you can’t picture your life without them…sigh

There are more important things at weddings beside bathroom breaks and embarrassing stories…THE CAKE.

Sarah went with a popular trend in terms of wedding cakes.  A giant cup cake tower. With a miniature cake for the cutting ceremony.DSCN0574

Cupcake towers are great.  Your guests are far more inclined to partake, in a cupcake or two.  Sarah had a variety of flavors, from carrot cake to chocolate, with different custards and filling.  And her cake designer was even able to oblige in some non-dairy options, as the groom is lactose intolerant.  One more plug for vegan baking.  Its not just for strict vegetarian folks.  Sarah actually had some trouble finding someone who could pull off non-dairy.  To all those soon-to-be-Brides out there:  Do not be discouraged its pretty easy to make great cake non-dairy. And your groom will never know the difference as you are shoving it into his face…In this case the bride got a surprise handful to the mouth as seen in the scathing look below.DSCN0578I’ve come across a few horror stories from some other brides that the cake of their wedding day dreams wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  Someone once told me during a class that she was promised beautiful gumpaste Hydreangias only to find out a day before her wedding that the decorator didn’t actually know how to make them!!!

Gumpaste is a lot like fondant.  It is edible but dries quicker and more solid than fondant.  Colored gumpaste tends to fade some what quickly so you should be aware and dye it a shade or two darker when using it.  Its most ideal for very thin petals and delicate flower designs.  In the case of Sarah’s cake she had Gerber daisies atop many of her cupcakes which match the decore as well as the bridal bouquets.  I wasn’t super impressed with the decorator’s flowers…but I suppose I’d built it up in my head– just what these daisies would look like.

Making flowers out of gumpaste is pretty simple.  If you totally suck at piping flowers you might find that making roses, daisies etc are quite easy when it come to gumpaste– its done mostly with cookie cutters. Hey as I say in class some of us are sculptors not painters.  Sugarcraft. com as well as offer a variety of cutters.  Here’s my take on Gerber Daisies using the Wilton daisy cutters.


Below is one of the Wilton Daisy cutters available at Michael’s or just about any craft store with a cake decorating aisle.  For each daisy you’ll need to roll out gumpaste to 1/16 of an inch (really thin–not total see-thru but close to translucent).  And cut 2 large daisies and 2 medium daisies.


Once you’ve cut the daisy blossoms use a balling/veining tool to thin the petals more. Place a blossom on thin shaping foam and run the balling tool from the edge of the petal to the center on the daisy.  The petals will curl in as you do this. Do this to all four blossoms cut.


Now chop ’em up.  Run a pastry wheel, a small pizza cuter, along each petal making 3 small cuts in each petal.  The cuts don’t have to be clean, just impressions.


Now glue all your blossoms together.  How you ask?  With gum glue–1/4 c warm water with 1/2 tsp of gumpaste dissolved in it. If you find you have hardened pieces of gumpaste along the edge of what you’re working with–this is ideal to dissolve for gum glue.  Typically one should let it stand for an hour.  Make some in advance and store it in the fridge for future projects.  Drop a little gum glue between each blossom with a paint brush and your set.  Let these flowers dry on flower formers–this is another Wilton Product.  Cutting paper cups in half and letting the blossoms dry in the concave shape produces the same effect if you don’t have Wilton flower formers on hand.


I used piping gel mixed with a little chocolate syrup to pipe a donut shape in the center.  I sprinkled with pink and yellow colored sugar and then filled in the center with chocolate syrup.  If you what a realistic comparison to real Gerber Daisies just scroll up my page–they are the header on the back drop of this here blog.


Find these instructions a little confusing or feeling like too much of a novice to do this on your own? Take a Wilton Fondant and Gum Paste Course (CHECK OUT THE NOVEMBER SCHEDULE PAGE) you’ll learn traditional Daisies, as well as Calalilies, and Carnations!

1 comment October 20, 2009

Puppy Cupcakes


I thought I’d close out this week with a fun little project out of the book Hello Cupcake! I also happen to be leading this project for kids tomorrow morning, so yes, it’s a little shameless self promotion.  Its also a great little finale to birthday week for my friend Chrissy, because if you know Chrissy you know her dog Seamus, a gigantic Weimaraner/ Lab/ Great Dane.


The fun thing about these cupcakes is that you not only use frosting, but you have a great excuse to get some cookies and candy–as if you needed an excuse.  Mini M&M’s, Tootsie Rolls, Jelly Beans (though I really hate that licorice flavor YUCK!), Famous  Chocolate Waffers, Airheads, Marshmellows…really you can use anything.  This project is actually a great way to get rid of all the Halloween Candy nobody really eats–Tootsie Rolls anybody?  If you don’t have all these on hand you can certainly improvise.  Frosting can step in, and should you have Fondant and not candy you can use that too.

Each cupcake (there are 10 different dogs in the book) starts out with a nice layer of frosting (you should have light and dark shades of grey, black, and brown–chocolate).  Add a few mini marshmellows to make a snout, and decorate with icing piped through pastry bags or –as the Hello Cupcake! suggests just use a ziplock bag.   Candy is in place for all the facial features.  Mini M&M’s for eyes, Big M&M’s for noses– if you are not into black jelly beans either, Fruit roll-ups or Airhead or pink Starbursts for Tongues—totally necessary for puppies, and flattened Tootsie Rolls for ears on some pups, Cookies for ears on others.


This is my puppy cupcake version of Seamus.   If you are looking for a litle inspiration Hello Cupcake! is great! It approaches decorating from a simplistic level.  You don’t need to get couplers and piping tips at specialty stores—though obvious I love all these things.  Super creative projects, made with everyday foods and tools all found in a grocery store.

Here’s to the weekend!

1 comment August 15, 2009

Staging a Coup


By Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

This. Is. My. Favorite. Cookbook. EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I kind of thought it was a joke 2 years ago when I got it for my birthday.  My vegan friend Chrissy with her insatiable sweet tooth and not-so-hidden agenda: to make me a cruelty free baker.  She also sent me a super awesome retro apron– Chrissy makes great birthday packages…

Now, years later, there is a large rubber band that holds the book together and you can see the various stickies.  Its become such a staple,  its a rare day that I bake cake that isn’t vegan. Thats right this book kicks the poor unknowing bum of every Joy-of-Cooking-Martha-Stewart-Paula-Dean-Betty-Crocker dessert cook book you can find me.  So if in fact Vegan cupcakes were to stage a coup…I’m on their side.

Picture fall 08 083

TOP 5 Reasons this Book is Righteous:

1. AWESOME!! Every recipe I’ve tried has come out AWESOME.  There are 75 recipes–including ganache, different glazes, frostings, let alone tons of cake.  And you’d never know it was vegan if the cat wasn’t let out of the bag.

2. FO’ REAL! These recipes aren’t  just a bunch of “replace the egg with applesauce” kinds of lists.  Each cupcake was built from the ground up with super culinary prowess.  Yes its possible to reinvent the cake, and no it doesn’t need eggs or butter.  (psst!!  Soymilk is cheaper than eggs and butter–so its economical too!!)

3. CAKE IS NOT PREDJUDICE. Vegan isn’t just for the strict vegetarians. Vegan baking is ideal for those who are lactose intolerant, have egg allergies-(its more common that you think) and this book offers some low-fat, low-sugar, and gluten-free varieties as well.  In short this book proves EVERYONE can have cake and eat it too.

4. COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES. This book will expand you’re culinary palate.  Green tea matcha powder, non- hydrogenated shortening, rosewater, chocolate extract…Most of these were not on my radar till this book came along.  Who knows what kind of great inspriration you’ll find using these flavorings!

5. PI? Every recipe works out  to exactly 12 cupcakes–How did they do it??

Recipes to try in no particular order:

  • Hazelnut Creme Cupcakes.  Sooo good its unholy.
  • Mucho Margarita Si! Its made with Tequila!
  • Chocolate Stout. Tell any beer-enjoying gent you make cupcakes with Guiness in them, and he’ll be your main squeeze in no time…Just ask my boyfriend.
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip is so good I want to dress up like one for Halloween.
  • Apple Cider makes you wish Summer were over.

I could go on but I’d just continue to steal the thunder of this book.  Get at any major bookseller or click here

3 comments August 12, 2009


In my circle of friends we celebrate birthdays for a whole week.  So in honor of my friend Chrissy hitting the last year of what can be considered her mid-twenties, this blogs for you.



Now don’t give me that gripe about eating vegan. I’ve shown up to far far too many an occasion and watched my precious, unsuspecting, sweet vegan cupcakes get goobled by a bunch a man-handlers who wouldn’t have touched them had they known that they were in fact dairy and egg free.  Just because its vegan doesn’t mean its made with bio diesel and Nag Champa instead.  Give ’em a shot!

OR should you have a kitchen full of manly men who don’t care to eat “hippy cupcakes” and would prefer a cake with a manly man name like…Duncan Hines, make these vegan treats instead and pull one of those 1980’s Foldger’s commercials on your household. You know–the old switcheroo, where they secretly replace the gourmet coffee with the Foldger’s, only to reveal it was the good ole Foldger’s all along.  (Pleasant sigh.)

Pssst! Don’t have time to make from-scratch vegan cupcakes? Replace the eggs in Duncan Hines’ recipe with 1/2 c apple sauce or a whole banana.  Duncan Hines Frosting is also totally vegan already.

Where was I? Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes


This recipe comes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  A full review of this culinary wonderment will be posted tomorrow also in honor of my friend Chrissy, as she, with her not-so-hidden-agenda, was the person who gave me this book…as a birthday gift.

1 c soy milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

3/4 c sugar

1/3 c vegetable oil (I like canola)

1 tsp *pure vanilla extract 

1 tsp of chocolate extract, or more vanilla if you can’t find chocolate.

1 c flour

1/3 dutch processed cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Combine soy and vinegar  and whisk in a large bowl. Set aside for a few minutes. The soy milk will thicken and act a bit like a buttermilk.  Sift dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, soda, powder, and salt) together and set aside. If you don’t sift the sky won’t fall, but it will make your cupcakes fluffier.  

Add sugar, oil, and extracts to soy mixture. *Don’t skimp on the vanilla. Only use the pure stuff.  Did you know that it comes from Madagascar?  The fake stuff is just tree sap, and its Chrissy’s birthday after all. Also chocolate extract can be a pain to track down. Try specialty culinary stores or buy online.

Use a wire whisk to combine wet ingredients.  Slowly pour in dry ingredients, about a third at a time.  A few swift strokes of the whisk will combine batter to a silky smooth consistency.  

Distribute into a cupcake pan–make sure the cups are lined with your favorite cupcake papers.  This will make exactly 12 cupcakes.  I like to use a 1/4 c measuring cup as a gage for filling the cups.  1-2 tsp less than 1/4 c is usually perfect, and everyone will note how perfectly uniform your desserts are. PICT0017

Bake at 350 for 12-18 minutes.  Let cool in the pans for about 10 -15 minutes before removing to fully cool.   



A good old buttercream can be done in a couple of different ways and since this recipe is for Chrissy, an avid runner, and strict vegetarian, I’ll try my best to make it healthier. 

1 c non hydrogenated shortening (found at higher end grocery stores like Whole Foods, and boy is it pricier!)


1/2 c non-hydrogenated shortening

1/2 c vegetable spread (Soy Garden or Smart Balance are great)

2 tablespoons soy milk or water

1 tsp clear or pure vanilla extract (Clear Vanilla is 100% not from Madagascar.  Its made from different alcohols like a variety of extracts.  If you are looking to make bright white frosting, use clear vanilla, and only shortening as this won’t muddy the color of the frosting)

3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Combine wet ingredients (everything but the sugar) until nice and smooth and creamy.  Add sugar 1 cup at  a time if you are using a hand mixer, or dump it all in your KitchenAid countertop mixer.  3 cups of sugar will get a medium to thin icing consistency.  4 cups will be very stiff.

*Substitute 1/3 dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder for 1/3 of sugar for Chocolate Buttercream.


For a real finishing touch, get a large piping tip any culinary or craft store.   Wilton makes a tip called 2D.  Drop this nose first in the bottom of a pastry bag or into the corner of a large plastic storage bag (make sure to cut a hole at the end).  Fill with icing and pipe onto your cupcakes as if it were a soft serve ice cream.  Your birthday-celebrating friends or man-handling-cupcake-eaters will be impressed.

2 comments August 11, 2009

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The Cake Eccentric

Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets