Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy Sunday! Thanks to the popularity of shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss as well as shows like Cupcake Wars which has helped make cupcakes a hot ticket these little treasures have gotten to be quite popular for my clients. I have had several orders of "Dinner Party Cupcakes" this past year and I try to make them different each time.

These Mexican Hot Chocolate Dinner Party Cupcakes were ordered by a wonderful repeat client. She had taste tested this flavor during a cake consultation and fell in love. So when the occasion came up where she wanted cupcakes she knew exactly which ones she wanted!

What makes these special is the use of good dark chocolate, that has been grated into the chocolate batter, but also the cinnamon and red pepper added into the mix as well. Somehow the spices make the flavor of the dark chocolate just POP! You have the combination of the sweet vanilla buttercream, the caramel sauce, then the bite of the spices and the richness of the chocolate. It's sheer Heaven in four bites. YUM!

I see a lot of elegant presentations on some of those shows I mentioned before but, more often than not, I see some really interesting looking presentations that, well, to be honest, just wouldn't be all that fun to eat. A lot of elaborate cupcakes seem to focus all on how they look and not how it would actually feel to bite into it. So I thought I'd take a few moments to go over some of the items that are used for those presentations and why they visually work but wouldn't be a whole lotta fun to eat.

The first, and most popular, is sanding sugar. Just like it sounds, sanding sugar is sugar that has the same size and consistency of sand. Very popular for wedding cupcakes this season due to the sparkly "bling" factor that sanding sugar can bring to the finish. However, like sand, this isn't all that wonderful on the teeth to eat. So pretty to look at but not nice to eat. A better way to use sanding sugar, get the bling and not have to worry about how it tastes, is to add it to a fondant decorative piece, like a bow or ribbon, that can be removed before eating. 

And while we are on the subject of fondant. I see quite a few designs that either have a covering of fondant like a "lid" on the cupcake or a large decoration, or several layers of decorations, on top made from fondant. The issue with the "lid" idea is that, again, while very pretty, the fondant tends to all come off in one piece when you bite into the cupcake. You wind up with a mouthful of fondant, a little buttercream and not much cake. When you find a cupcake covered in fondant decorations it's hard to know whether to eat the items or remove the items. I've witnessed this in person and find that the kids eat it all up while the adults end up with a tidy little pile of decorations on their napkins. Neither is great for your guests. A better idea would be to keep the icing simple and add fondant decorations to the tray that the cupcakes are presented upon. They get the same "cute" factor without feeling like they need to eat all of that sugar. 

Last on my list is a little decoration called Candy. This has become very popular for cakes and cupcakes this past year. I've seen cupcakes covered in large pieces of candy, cakes covered completely in M&M's, "sprinkles" so large you would feel the need to pick them off and eat them first before biting into the cupcake. As with the fondant decorations, the kids eat every single sugary bite while the adults tend to pick at their food to get to the simple icing and cake. Having your guests feel the need to pick apart their food may not be the impression you want to leave...especially at a wedding.

My hope has always been to have my cakes look at least half as good as they taste. I never want to sacrifice taste for how pretty something looks...I'd rather sacrifice pretty. Because, in the end, the taste is what is going to have your clients keep coming back each time. If your cake doesn't taste good then the next time they will find another baker. I have a few clients say that I am their "cake lady" and I simply adore that. It makes me feel wonderful knowing that when it comes time to buy another cake, or cupcakes, that I will be the first on their list. 

This upcoming week I will be sharing with you an Easter design along with our St. Paddy's Day dinner and dessert (no, it's not cake!). See you next Sunday!


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