Hello, Cupcake book

May 6, 2008 10:23:12 AM PDT
Karen Tack, author of cookbook Hello, Cupcake visits ABC7 Chicago.

Hello, Cupcake!Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make

By Karen Tack & Alan Richardson

What's cuter than a cupcake? How about a penguin, a puppy, or a space alien? Put them together and you've got HELLO, CUPCAKE! Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make (Houghton Mifflin Company, April 24, 2008). With their witty projects and crafty ideas, "cake whisperer" Karen Tack and acclaimed author-photographer Alan Richardson take the currently hip and always adorable cupcake to the next imaginative level.

With HELLO, CUPCAKE!, you can create funny, scary, and sophisticated masterpieces using just a ziplock bag and common candies. No complicated techniques, no pastry bag, and absolutely no baking skills required! You can find almost all the items for these projects at your local grocery store, pharmacy, or even gas station, and the easy-to-follow techniques are simple enough for even the most kitchen-challenged cook. Tack and Richardson show how to use doctored cake mix and canned frosting to achieve fantastic results ? and no one will guess you didn't make these cupcakes from scratch. With recipes ranging from a flock of monarch butterflies to a sneakily sweet spaghetti and meatballs dinner, these are "cupcaking" projects for every taste and occasion.

? Say hello to spring with a Garden Party (page 141). The candy peas, carrots, and lettuces are planted in cookie-crumb earth. Finally, veggies the kids will eat!

? Usher in summer with Corn on the Cob cupcakes (page 24). Those juicy kernels are actually jelly beans and the butter pats are fruit chews. Or whip up a bouquet of Sunflowers (page 124) with Oreo centers.

? Happy Birthday! Time to put on the dog! Make Pup Cakes (page 65) with dachshunds, terriers, bulldogs, or whatever sweet mutt catches your fancy, trot out Crazy Horses (page 61) with circus-peanut heads chomping on potato-stack hay, or stage an Alien Invasion (page 165) with slimy green creatures from outer space in individual takeout-container space ships.

? Back up your vote with a cupcake! Throw a support-party for your favorite candidate, Obama, Clinton, or McCain, with a Candy Stars and Stripes Forever flag (page 151) as the centerpiece.

? Do you have a Larry the Turkey (page 183) in your office? Don't wait for Thanksgiving: bake him a cupcake!

To meet up with all the other people who've already joined the party, check out blog.hellocupcakebook.com. And in the words of HELLO, CUPCAKE!, "Find a project that tickles your fancy, grab a bag or two of candy, and get ready to put your smile into overdrive."

About the authors

Karen Tack is a cooking teacher and sought-after food stylist. Dubbed "the cake whisperer" by Gourmet magazine, Karen has styled for a wide variety of publications, including Woman's Day, Family Circle, Gourmet, Real Simple, Bon Appétit and Nick, Jr. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, and will embark on a national author tour.

Alan Richardson is a critically acclaimed food photographer and is the coauthor of The Breath of a Wok, which won two coveted awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. His work appears in leading food and women's magazines.

For more information, visit www.hellocupcakebook.com.

SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

Makes 1 platter of spaghetti and meatballs: 10 cupcakes

Drinking milk with spaghetti and meatballs might get you run out of your favorite Italian joint, but when your guests realize this is a platter of cupcakes with frosting pasta and strawberry sauce, everyone will want some. The chunk of Parmesan cheese in the background is actually white chocolate, and best of all, the meatballs are hazelnut chocolates right out of the bag.

10 vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners

1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting

1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

3 drops yellow food coloring

11 hazelnut chocolates (Ferrero Rocher), unwrapped

3/4 cup low-sugar strawberry preserves (low-sugar has the best color)

2 tablespoons grated white chocolate, plus an additional chunk for garnish

1. Tint the vanilla frosting with the cocoa powder and yellow food coloring and spread a thin layer on top of the cupcakes. Arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter so that they are touching.

2. Spoon the remaining frosting into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Snip a 1/8-inch corner from the bag. Pipe the frosting all over the cupcakes to make the spaghetti, piling it high and allowing some of the spaghetti to hang over the edges.

3. Place the hazelnut chocolates and the strawberry preserves in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Spoon some of the preserves on top of the cupcakes. Place 1 hazelnut chocolate on each cupcake and 1 on the platter. Top the cupcakes with the remaining strawberry preserves. Sprinkle with the grated white chocolate. Place the chunk of white chocolate on a separate plate with a small hand grater and bring to the table with the platter of spaghetti.

SUNFLOWERS

Makes 24 sunflower cupcakes

The petals on these bright, sassy cupcakes may look complicated but are actually quick and easy: just grab a ziplock bag filled with 2 colors of frosting and squeeze, pull, and release. Practice makes perfect.

24 vanilla cupcakes baked in green paper liners

2 cans (16 ounces each) vanilla frosting

Green, yellow, orange, and black food coloring (available at baking supply stores)

14-16 regular chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies (Oreos)

25-30 mini chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies (Mini Oreos)

1/2 cup table sugar

15-20 candy spearmint leaves or 2 rolls green fruit leather

2 tablespoons dark chocolate frosting

6-10 red candy-coated chocolates (M&M's)

Basket lined with green tissue paper (optional)

1. Tint 1 1/2 cups of the vanilla frosting green with the food coloring. Spread an even layer of the green frosting on top of the cupcakes and smooth. Arrange the chocolate sandwich cookies, regular and mini, randomly over the cupcakes, pressing them into the frosting to secure.

2. Tint the remaining vanilla frosting bright yellow with the food coloring. Remove 1/2 cup of the yellow frosting and tint it orange with the food coloring. Spoon 1/4 cup of the orange frosting into one side of a ziplock bag and spoon half of the yellow frosting into the other side of the bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Repeat the process with another ziplock bag and the remaining orange and yellow frosting. Reinforce the corner of each bag with 6 overlapping layers of Scotch tape. Pinch the taped corners flat and cut a small V-shape in the corner to make a leaf tip. Pipe yellow-orange frosting around the edge of each cookie to make petals. Pipe another circle of petals just inside the first and slightly overlapping.

3. Sprinkle the work surface with the sugar. Roll out the spearmint leaves, one at a time, to 1/8 inch thick. Using clean scissors, cut the candies or fruit leathers into 1 1/2-inch-long leaf shapes. Press the leaves into the cupcakes just under the petals.

4. Tint the chocolate frosting black with the food coloring and spoon it into a small ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Snip a 1/16-inch corner from the bag. Pipe a dot of black frosting on some of the cookies and attach the red chocolate candies to make the ladybugs. Pipe a line of black frosting down the center of each ladybug and add a dot for the head and a few dots on the back.

5. Arrange the cupcakes close together in a basket lined with green tissue paper, if you like, in small cups or on a platter.


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