When cupcakes went bonkers back in 2005, I thought this craze would last about as long as other recent phenoms—fondue, homemade ice cream, cocktails, popsicles. We’ve all seen the come-and-go cycle.
It starts when you notice a cluster of single-subject books on Borders’ hot picks table. A few days later you see it on multiple magazine covers at the grocery store checkout. Pretty soon your favorite TV host is swooning over it. Finally as you page through mail-order catalogues you can’t resist all the sexy paraphernalia. You order the thing. Next month, as if to mock you, the trend gods move cruelly on to milkshakes, pressure-cooking, espresso drinks.
Somehow Cupcakes must have slept with the right people. Five years into this craze and there’s no sign of letup. In fact, friend Karen Tack has made us all smile again with her second book (What’s New Cupcake—check it out.) There are cupcake websites, cupcake shops in all the major cities (minor too). Need a cupcake stand? Cupcake carrier? Cupcake decorating kit? Vegan cupcake book? It’s all out there, one click away.
Cupcakes clearly have more staying power than hula hoops. They’re classic, and here’s why.
Unlike fondue or popsicles, we all need at least a couple of cakes a year. Everyday on Facebook I’m reminded that one of my friends is celebrating a birthday. There are anniversaries, weddings, showers, farewells, Valentines, Halloween. Whoever heard of a wedding pie?
Given a choice, cakes are nice, but cupcakes are adorable. (Think puppies vs. dogs.) And cupcakes are easier. With cake, there are knives and forks and plates. Cupcakes? Peel that sucker and eat it like a banana. Cakes mean decisions—slice or sliver, end piece or center? It’s the stuff of fights. “His piece is bigger than mine!” Blessedly, a batch of cupcakes are as different as Oreos. After the oohs and aahs, you pass ‘em out, and that’s it. Everybody’s happy.
Although I’ve recently relaxed my standards on pie pastry (I’ve been known to use refrigerated crusts), I won’t waste the calories on a box mix cupcake. Using my chocolate cake recipe as guide, I’ve created a moist, incredibly chocolatey cupcake.
And since I have no qualms about being inconsistent, I’ve discovered if you mix a little vanilla extract and instant coffee (or peanut butter) into the store-bought frosting, it tastes rather homemade.
As for decorating, I am seriously impaired. If you’re looking for more than sprinkles, you’d better 1-click What’s New Cupcake. (Or check back tomorrow when we’ll be giving a few copies away!)
Megan (Best of Fates) says
I’m so glad the cupcake craze isn’t just a phase – cupcakes are my favorite desert to make!
Haha! I agree, Megan. I am a huge fan too.
Now about these cupcakes. Really, they are the best. I was the lucky one who got to take the rest home, and it was just amazing. Days later they tasted as fresh, fluffy and moist as the day we made them. What do you attribute that to, mom? The sour cream?
Rose in Ohio (@RoseMillsOhio) says
This is one of the reasons I like your blog so much:
“And since I have no qualms about being inconsistent, I’ve discovered if you mix a little vanilla extract and instant coffee (or peanut butter) into the store-bought frosting, it tastes rather homemade.”
I can live with that, too!
This looks like the perfect recipe! Thanks for sharing!
Bob M says
I concur with Rose in Ohio. See a recipe and make it your own :-)!
BTW, 4oz. of Bay Leaves from Penzeys = 1/2 gallon of Bay leaves :-)! Careful when ya order!
I also love the portion control of a cup cake — I just need to make sure I have eleven friends to share these with! Also, thanks for the permission to use store-bought frosting — I’m with Rose above — this is just one of the many reasons I LOVE your blog!
You had me at “chocolate”. “Peanut-butter” got me excited. “Cupcake” just about finished me off.
I’m hoping that cupcakes are classic – they certainly are to me. They were always my favourite thing to make as a child, and now they’re tons of fun – for the nostalgia, for the experimental flavours, for the cute wrappers and decorations.
These are definitely on my to-try-ASAP list.
i tried your recipe for perfect vanilla cupcakes with the strawberry jam idea I put half batter /jam/batter but my jam ended up on the bottom what did i do wrong
Use stiff jam rather than runny. And don’t stir the jam to loosen it before spooning it into the batter. That should work.
Ann McGuigan says
I, too, tried the jam-filled vanilla cupcakes, but the jam went to the bottom. I followed your advice to use firm jam, and did not stir it or loosen it. As a matter of fact, I used just one teaspoon of jam vs. 1-1/2 teaspoons in the hopes the jam woulnd’t sink … but sink it did! The is the first time one of your recipes has failed me … so please don’t take this as a criticism … I just thought you’d want to know.