Hello, Cupcake

Last year for my birthday, I got Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson.

I had seen it featured on a lot of websites and I was very excited about it. When I got it and flipped through it,  I was even more excited! There are some very seriously cute cupcakes in this book!

And they all really do seem so easy, like anyone could make them.

I don’t know if I’d want to make all of them… These bugs frankly look too real for my taste. But I imagine there are some little boys and girls out there that would love how disgustingly tasty they are!

Then there’s the frosting version of Starry Night by Van Gogh. Personally, I subscribe to Jen Yates’ way of thinking as far as cupcake cakes go, but isn’t this gorgeous? It would translate to a sheet cake beautifully, and why stop at Van Gogh? I think Monet’s Water-Lillies would look delicious in frosting! And don’t even get me started on Picasso!! I love the idea of putting it in a frame too! Genius!

Even the more complicated designs and ideas look so simple after reading the instructions. All of the ideas are clear and concise with easy to follow directions, so none of it seems like it would be an overwhelming undertaking.

And yet…

After owning the book for a good four months, I still hadn’t attempted any of the ideas. I mean, I was soooo excited about it, and…nothing.

Here’s the thing: they all seem very easy to do with such great direction. They all seem so fun to make based on the lovely photos. But they all require a lot of random ingredients that I just don’t keep on hand. Obviously the cake and frosting ingredients are always around here, considering how much I bake, I’m well stocked for cupcakes. I don’t, however, buy fruit rolls, donut holes, or vanilla wafers (not to mention the boatloads of candy) on a regular basis. And you need a combination of these and much, much more to do the majority of these cupcake designs.

Of course, it’s all very accessible stuff. I don’t think there is a single ingredient in this book that every single person couldn’t find. No, my point is that I can’t just pick it up and make the cupcakes of my choice. I rarely plan ahead for my baked goods. They’re spur-of-the-moment, what-am-I-in-the-mood-for? creations. So every time I picked this book up, I walked away disappointed because I had to make a trip to the store just to make cupcakes.

I finally did get around to making a recipe though.

It’s one of the simpler, more accessible ideas. All I needed were cupcakes and mini marshmallows (the book recommends using white and yellow marshmallows, but I think you could definitely get away with plain white ones). I always have all of that on hand. Plus, I just happened to have some seriously adorable popcorn containers, so I set to work.

The recipe requires mini cupcakes, so I made a basic vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. If you don’t have a mini muffin pan, you can use foil cupcake liners set on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake your cupcakes as directed, and allow to cool. Now the fun starts!

To make your “popcorn kernels,” simply cut three mini marshmallows in half. Lay them sticky side up on the counter to help prevent mess and irritation. You’ll use three halves and one whole mini marshmallow for each kernel.

Place a small amount of frosting on the end of one of your whole marshmallows and “glue” three of the halves to the base. Frost a cupcake and stick two to three completed kernels onto it while the frosting is still wet. It’s important to frost each cupcake individually so that the frosting doesn’t have time to set up before you stick the “popcorn” to it.

You can see here how the three halves should be arranged, and it really does end up looking remarkably like popcorn! As you can see, I went with both colors of marshmallows, but I don’t think it makes a great enough difference to buy the colored bag specifically for this (I ended up throwing the rest away from lack of need). But the cuppies are adorable, aren’t they?

We had them for movie night. HRH Beermeister borrowed a beautiful projector, we hung a huge white sheet from the ceiling, and sat down to “popcorn” and a movie. It was a lot of fun and the cupcakes were definitely a hit. I have to say that the containers really added something to it, too. I got these at Target for one dollar each!! They usually sell them at random throughout the year, so it’s worth checking out. Amazon also has a lot of choices, including paper/cardboard or plastic.

So, I finally made one of the designs from the book. They were a hit and everyone loved them.

I haven’t made anything since.

It’s a little depressing because it’s a wonderful book. I really do highly recommend it. Especially if you have young children, as the majority of the cupcakes are geared towards kids. But more than the designs is the fact that they are so easy to follow. I do intend to do an “artist cake” inspired by the Starry Night idea, and I love the idea of getting some of the really unique cupcakes made. I’ll keep you posted on whether I get myself motivated on it, though. Meanwhile, check this book from the library at the very least. I know this isn’t exactly a sterling review of the book (I don’t think I actually fall into the audience they’re going for, i.e., people with small children), but it’s definitely worth flipping through, and you’ll probably end up buying it because it’s brilliant.

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