Food + Wine

Cupcake Stuff

I love making cupcakes as gifts, or to serve at cocktail parties.  There’s something about a cupcake that just makes people happy.  I know they’re really trendy now, but I believe it’s a trend that won’t be going anywhere.  I don’t want to sound like a snob but I only like the cupcakes that I make.  I know that sounds horribly gross and egotistical but there’s a good reason why.  I don’t like really sweet things.  And the one thing store-bought or bakery-made cupcakes are is sweet….and (I’m sorry) often dry.  When I make my icing, I use about 1/5 of the sugar that is usually used.  This allows all the flavors of the cake and icing to come through instead of it just tasting sweet.  And I like to add extra ingredients like sour cream, applesauce, canned pumpkin or yogurt to make mine extra moist instead of just oil and eggs.  But wherever you get your cupcakes, here are a couple tips on how to present them in the best way.

When I make cupcakes for parties, I like to either put them on a tiered dessert tower,

or cake stand, or I’ve even put them on the flat bottoms of inverted wine or hurricane glasses. Using a mix of a lot of different sizes and heights is best.

That’s a really pretty presentation when you’re only entertaining a small amount of people and only need to display a few cupcakes on the table.

The basic idea here is that when you’re setting your cocktail party table, you need to build height.  Cocktail parties tend to have tiny bites of foods, right?  Like cupcakes!  So you can easily play around with things you have on hand to make an exciting table.  Using unexpected things like inverted pretty bowls, inverted wine or other drink glasses, tea cups topped with saucers, cake stands, etc. to create dimension makes your table look much more appealing rather than using a bunch of flat platters.

And as for giving them as gifts, cupcakes are a pretty difficult thing to wrap.  You don’t want to smush the icing, so simply placing them on a plate and wrapping it won’t do, and generally you’re giving more than just one cupcake to someone.  So… here’s what I like to do (with the standard size cupcakes, not the jumbo):

I place each cupcake into one of those clear, wide 8 ounce plastic, disposable cocktail cups.  If your cupcake is really fat, it may not fit down into the bottom, but that doesn’t matter.  The idea is that inside the cup, it’s protected on all sides and the cup is clear so you can easily see the cupcakes inside.  Then I take a large dinner plate (a sturdy, disposable, white one could work or if it’s a really special gift then stock up on ornate plates or small platters from a thrift store or Goodwill) and place the cupcake cups onto it (three cupcakes to one gift plate looks the best).  I then wrap the entire plate in clear or tinted wrapping paper and tie a pretty bow around the top.  You can nestle a card down into the tufts of the paper at the top (or in my case, it tends to be a business card).  The cupcakes come out easily if you just squeeze from the bottom of each cup.

When you’re writing out the card, include a little tip on the back that tells your friend how to get out the cupcakes so they don’t end up ruining them before they even get to eat them!

You can find these plastic cups at any grocery store, sometimes dollar stores, and the plastic wrapping can be found at any craft store and most dollar stores.  As for the fabric ribbon, craft stores and dollar stores are great but you know what’s even greater?  And free?  The ribbon from the gift someone gave you.  Yes, I do that.

Here are a couple of my cupcake recipes (a lot of them start with a cake mix…shhhh!) so you can easily whip up something and make it look all purty in no time!

*White Chocolate Blueberry Cupcakes

*Dark Chocolate-Red Wine Cupcakes with Cream Cheese-Kahlua Frosting

*Various Halloween Decorated Cupcakes

Do you have a favorite kind of cupcake?

Anything with a slightly sweet cream cheese frosting is mine!

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