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Hello, Cupcake! The birthday party

chocolate cupcakes, cream cheese frosting, chocolate frosting, Black and White Party
Now that's a stylish spread
Since I was starting the 107 Cookbooks project close to my birthday, I kicked it off with my most recent acquisition, Hello, Cupcake! I found the softcover baking guide in the discount section at Barnes & Noble, and could not resist. It’s full of clever cupcake decorating ideas: cupcakes made to look like TV dinners and popcorn kernels, cupcakes assembled to depict an alligator, cupcakes colored to represent billiard balls. I chose a relatively simple project, the Black and White Party: chocolate cupcakes in white wrappers, coated with a base layer of either white frosting (I chose cream cheese) or chocolate frosting tinted black with food coloring, and embellished away.MeltingChocolate

There’s a cake decorating supply store three blocks from my apartment, where I found a lot of the things I needed. White wrappers, a smaller frosting spatula suited to cupcakes, black and white sanding sugars, black food coloring, cans of black and white decorating frosting. I needed more, though, and after racking my brain I remembered that Dylan’s Candy Bar on Third Avenue at 60th offers a broad selection of single colors of candy. There I found black and white M&Ms, black and white candy-coated sunflower seeds, and black licorice in thin ropes.

I felt that to really do the project right I had to use the cookbook’s recipes for cupcakes and frosting rather than making my usual versions (it offers a wide variety, including both mix and scratch preparations for the cake; of course I chose scratch).Cocoa and flour for batter I had some trepidation about the cake; I’m a huge fan of the devil’s food cake recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and I just didn’t think another recipe could measure up. But I was pleasantly surprised: Hello, Cupcake’s recipe is a little easier to prepare, and by using both melted unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder it provides a satisfying depth of chocolate flavor. The baked cake was tender and delicious. I still love Bittman’s recipe, but for cupcakes I will definitely consider adding this one to my rotation, and may try their other cake recipes as well.

I was less satisfied with the consistency of the frostings. But this is probably not the fault of the frostings themselves; it was a warm day and I’d already heated up the kitchen quite a bit with the other food prep, so by the time I’d made both frostings and had them ready to use the butter in them was far too soft and melty. You should have smelled it--mmm.I had to add quite a few drops of food coloring to the chocolate frosting to get it really black, and I felt that affected the consistency as well. They both tasted terrific, though, and all the guests were very impressed by the visual effect, so I was probably just being overparticular. I’ll have to try them again when the weather is more temperate before I make a final assessment.

I had one of my friends come over before the other guests so we could decorate the cupcakes. We both had a blast; it was really fun to play with the contrasts. Cupcakes fresh from the ovenThe canned decorating frostings were too soft—I should probably have put them in the fridge for most of the day, but I just didn’t consider that they would get warm along with the entire rest of the apartment.

Verdict: Success. Good flavor, good consistency of cake, good appearance; the decorations were fun and impressed the hell out of the party guests. The recipes were clear and easy to follow. I will definitely use this cookbook again.Decorations included M&Ms, candy-coated sunflower seeds, licorice, frosting, and sanding sugar

2 Comments

  1. […] peanut cookies I knew that when it came to sweets, the Black and White Cupcakes would be the big hits of the party. Different, dramatic and delicious ‚Äî and did I mention they […]

  2. Lisa says:

    I found one of these cupcakes in the glove compartment a week later. Gee…I wonder how it got there?!

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