Tag Archives: wedding

Trial and Error – Cupcake Recipe Taste Testing!

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I learned the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City. 

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted May 2008

My very good friend Louisa is getting married in California this fall and I volunteered to provide a cake for her wedding. She requested mint-chocolate cupcakes, since that is a favorite flavor combination (we ate waaayyy too many chocolate-mint brownies as roommates in college). Before the wedding, I figured I’d better find a great recipe and try it out. It was a good thing I did.

I found a cupcake blog with a recipe posted on it for chocolate cupcakes filled with a chocolate-mint ganache and topped with mint buttercream icing. Sounds out-of-this-world fabulous, right? So I baked up the cupcakes, made up the ganache, piped it into the cupcakes, and topped it with the recipe provided for the buttercream.

Here they are cooling on the rack:

Cupcakes cooling on rack - Talk Sweet to Me

And a picture of the cupcakes split in half showing the ganache inside:

Mint chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache filling - Talk Sweet to Me

Then it was time to taste-test for quality control. I brought in my mom, who is probably to blame for my sweet tooth, and who also has discerning taste. We both took a bite and…bleh! The first problem was that the cream for the ganache was infused with real mint leaves. It came out tasting like…plants. I’ll be using mint extract from now on. Then the cupcakes were so dry (even though I used moistening syrup) that they crumbled apart like dirt…and sort of tasted like dirt as well. So the end result was a bit too earthy. Dirt texture and taste, plant flavor, etc. Gross. On to trial #2.

Trial #2 was a recipe from a cookbook that my mom has had forever. It wasn’t good either. However, my mom did get creative with the decorating part of things after coming in from the garden.

Mom decorating cupcakes - Talk Sweet to Me

Halfway through the tasting she says to me, “You know, you’re not the only one around here who can decorate cake.” Here was her creation.

Mom cupcake decoration - Talk Sweet to Me

A half-eaten cupcake with some gorgeous m&m’s pushed into it. She makes me so proud! We had a good laugh about that. At least it could solve a chocolate craving.

Trial #3 was from  one of those cupcake cookbooks where you add stuff to a mix to try to make it taste like a scratch cake. The cupcakes were fairly good and stayed moist for several days, but they still taste like a mix and I still feel like I’m cheating. However, this form of “cheating” requires almost just as much effort as making cupcakes from scratch since you have to add cocoa, buttermilk, whole milk, etc. to the mixture anyway, and it creates just as much mess. I personally think it contradicts the convenience of using a mix and it just doesn’t make that much sense. If you’re going to make a mess and take the time to measure out ingredients, for goodness sake, just make it from scratch!

I have to admit, though, that it is very convenient to make a cake from a box. You can’t mess it up, and it simply involves dumping the package into a bowl along with some eggs, oil, and water. So easy!

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For this trial, I used my own buttercream frosting recipe with mint extract added instead of the usual vanilla. That buttercream is definitely the winner and will be used in the final version.

Chocolate mint cupcakes - Talk Sweet to Me

In the end, I have decided to use one of the recipes I discovered during my cake taste-test trials from my friend Katie (who is a fabulous baker and excellent taste-tester!), fill the cupcakes with dark chocolate ganache, and top it with the winning recipe for mint buttercream. Easy.

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Resources: Cupcakes

Bite sized goodness - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Since there are new cupcake shops opening up every day, I decided it wasn’t a good idea for me to specialize in them. Although I love cupcakes (they are so cute and fun to eat!), I concentrated in full-on wedding cakes instead. However, I did come across a couple great cupcake resources to share since I did have customers request cupcakes. These were a few of my top favorites!

Cupcake wrappers - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

My favorite resource for custom cupcake wrappers is on Etsy. I worked with Jessica at the shop Chickadee Digital, who did an amazing job of finding the perfect color for a customer with a very specific request (denim, not navy blue!). The wrappers were delivered on time, she provided all-around great customer service, and finished with a wonderful product. I was very pleased!

Denim wrappers cupcake display - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Cupcake liners - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Another resource I like for regular cupcake liners is Cupcake Swirl.  They have a ton of great colors and patterns. In addition to cupcake liners, you can find all kinds of cupcake decorations, party kits, tools, cupcake stands, boxes, super-cute aprons, and more. It’s fun to shop around!

I started out using white cupcake liners, but soon found that baking colored cupcakes and setting them next to vanilla ones looked kind of shabby because the liners ended up two different colors due to the cake color.

Cupcake display with white cupcake liners - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

From then on, I always used the chocolate brown ones unless a customer requested something different. With the chocolate brown liners it doesn’t matter what color your cake is, you’ll get a consistent look when you set them out on display at events.

Cupcake and cake display - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Cupcake display with madhatter cake - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Quick tip - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

If you haven’t ever tried it before, experiment with using some of the coarse sparkling sugar sprinkles on top of your cupcakes to add some color (or use the clear to simply add sparkle). That little sugary crunch after biting into the soft cupcake and smooth icing is to-die-for!

Cupcake sparkle sugar - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Do you have a favorite cupcake supply resource? Tell us all about it in the comments below!