August 8, 2010

Cupcake Fever

A couple of weeks ago I took a cupcake decorating class at Spun Sugar, a local baking/confection supply store in Berkeley. I prefer to think of the store as a place one goes when one wants to be blown away by the sheer volume of baking and confectionery goods that they carry. They have just about everything that any culinary enthusiast could want: cupcake liners of all shapes, colors, designs and sizes; premade (either in-house or imported from such exotic places as France) edible decorations; available in retail, wholesale and bulk quantities of Guittard, Callebaut, Cordillera, Valrhona chocolate (their "Wall of Chocolate"); and all the decorating hardware you could think of. In my opinion everything is very reasonably priced, especially things like sprinkles and other novelty decorating items. Anyways, back to the class...

The class, aptly name Cupcake Fever, was three hours long and cost a mere $75. (It was also one of my birthday presents so all I had to do was enjoy it!) The class fee covers everything: the raw, prepared and pre-made materials, instruction and the 13 cupcakes that you get to decorate and then take home. I took that class with Tracy, Spun Sugar's Wilton School of Cake Decorating-trained store manager. She was absolutely wonderful: patient, kind and extremely informative. I asked a lot of questions and basically ended up feeling like that annoying, know-it-all kid in class that never shuts up, but at least I got my answers. We also got to take home a course syllabus which contains recipes for each of the cupcake and frosting flavors that we used. I cherish this bundle of papers especially for the frosting recipes.

All but two of the cupcake flavors were premade for us and we got to watch how to make the white velvet cake; this demonstrative batch of white velvet turned into the cake for two of the cupcakes that we got to decorate. We got to work at stations (of sorts) and make three cupcakes at a time. Some of the decoration aesthetics were not my taste (the shoes cupcake, for example) but it was fun to learn how to pipe frosting and get a feel for how you could make stunning, professional looking cupcakes with just a specialized piping tip, some sprinkles and an edible gnome.

And now for the cupcake eye candy:

Elegant Rose Cupcake

White cake with chocolate buttercream
frosting and a beautiful edible rosebud.

Puppy Cupcake

Red velvet cake with buttercream frosting a
pressed sugar puppy and flower shaped sprinkles.

Petit Four Cupcake

White velvet cupcake scented with almond extract
and orange blossom water filled with raspberry jam
topped with instant poured fondant and a gum paste flower.
(My favorite by far!)

Lemon Verbena Cupcake

Lemon verbena cake with buttercream icing
and gum paste flower.

Hot Cocoa Cupcake

Chocolate cake with ganache frosting and topped
with buttercrem frosting, mini marshmallows
and a dash of cinnamon.

Hostess Cupcake

Chocolate cake with buttercream filling
and a ganach frosting.

Gnome Cupcake

Lemon verbena cake with buttercream frosting,
gum paste gnome and chocolate tree (from France!).

Carrot Cake Cupcake

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and
fondant carrot.

Burger Cupcake

White cake with chocolate buttercream
frosting and a mini, candy hamburger
made from two Nilla wafers, a mini
peppermint patty, colored icing and
sesame seeds.

Boston Cream Cupcake

White velvet cake filled with vanilla
custard and topped with ganache and
chocolate stars.

Banana Split Cupcake

Banana cake with buttercream frosting,
banana chips, white chocolate shavings and
chocolate ganache drizzle.

Disco Dust Shoes Cupcake

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and disco
dust-sprinkled gum paste shoes.

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