If you haven’t heard, there is a new trend in the dessert market—cupcakes. And who doesn’t love those sweet yummy cupcake concoctions? They are sweet treats of the day for the most discerning sweet eater, and they come in so many flavors and variations. Of course, you can stick to the traditional vanilla or chocolate cupcake if you like, but today’s market hosts a plethora of new unique cupcake recipes.
Although cupcakes have been around for a long time, their originals are controversial. Some say that cupcakes came about when people started baking cakes in little teacups. These little teacup cakes didn’t take as long to bake and cooled faster. Some believe that cupcakes were named because the ingredients were measured in cups—one cup of sugar, 2 cups of flour, etc. But however the cupcake came about, these sweet treats have made their way into our hearts.
Cupcakes have become increasingly popular in recent times. You see them popping up at all types of events and occasions, such as weddings (in lieu of the traditional tiered wedding cake), at baby showers, at event openings, and even at sports gatherings (like at Super Bowl parties or hockey events). No-one can resist these great tasting little cakes, and they can be made to suit any occasion.
Cupcakes can be themed around any event, with the ingredients or with their decorations. For instance, a vegetarian gathering can feature cupcakes made with totally vegetarian or vegan friendly ingredients. Some cupcake recipes include unlikely ingredients such as zucchini, carrots, beets, wheat grain or other healthy components. Cupcakes can also be made to be vegan friendly without using eggs or milk products. And the great thing is, these vegetarian or vegan cupcakes can be just as satisfying and tasty as any other cupcake.
Although their name may suggest that cupcakes are served at mainly feminine functions, today’s cupcakes are also served at many ‘manly’ events. These cupcakes are typically centered around a sports theme, but can be made to suit a bachelor party as well. Men like sweet desserts just as much as ladies, and these little cakes are easy to eat.
Part of the fun of cupcakes is the way they are decorated. Of course, you can traditionally have the simple swirl of cake icing on top, but today’s cupcakes can also be elaborately decorated to suit many themes. Some decorations set off the ingredients, like a strawberry cupcake may have sliced strawberries on top, while a mocha cupcake may be decorated with candied coffee beans. Other decorative features are often included on the cupcake toppings to enhance their decorative appeal. Chocolate shavings, shredded coconut, fresh fruit, candied fruit, raisins, marzipan shapes, or glace cherries are all common cupcake toppings. Cupcakes can be filled with creams or jams, they can have several layers of toppings each with a different flavor aspect, or they can be topped with just a simple glaze or dusted with icing sugar.
You can find cupcakes at pretty much every bakery today, but there are bakeries devoted solely to cupcakes too. At these specialty shops, you will find unique and exotic flavored cupcakes, as well as the traditional ones.
Many people like to experiment and bake their own cupcakes at home. Here is a cupcake recipe you may enjoy:
3 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
¾ cup milk
¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
4 TBSP. butter
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 TBSP. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 TBSP. candied orange, cut in slivers
Preheat over to 350° F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat until fluffy the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time into butter mixture, mixing well after each addition. Add in orange zest. Mix milk and orange juice together in a measuring cup. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture into the butter mixture, adding a third at a time. Beat until just combined (do not over mix), scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fill muffin liners with ¼ cup of the batter. Bake until cupcakes are golden and spring back when pressed slightly. Let cupcakes cool before icing. Makes about 24 cupcakes.
To make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter and sugar together in a bowl until smooth. Add in milk and vanilla and beat again. Fold in candied orange slivers. Spoon frosting on top of cupcakes and swirl into a pleasing decoration.