Archive | October, 2010

Chinese Cupcakes and Macaroons

26 Oct

I sit here writing, perfectly content, as the smell of baking coconut envelops my apartment and my batch of macaroons turn their lovely shade of golden. When I am not baking cupcakes, I begin to have baking withdrawal symptoms and so I have taken to baking batches of fudgy brownies, crispy cookies and now macaroons to fulfil that desire for baking. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore cupcakes and will remain the Cupcake Queen, however it’s nice to whip up something quick and different. I bring my goodies in weekly to my Deutschkurs which I recently returned to full time. The free goodies are always received in the same way. First with hesitation: ‘Oh, no thank you, I am on a diet.’ Then: ‘Well maybe just one.’ To be concluded with: ‘Do you have anymore??’ It’s a cute little cycle and I am developing a great reputation and learning lots of German everyday in my full time course. I have gone back to hone my German language skills since I want to develop my business in Germany, so I really need to become fluent on my cupcake journey.

Recently, the language school held a Chinese themed party and I was the bearer of cupcakes. It took me a while to come up with a theme for my cupcakes but in the end I did good. I made chocolate, green tea and strawberry cupcakes and all were well received.

Sorry about the bad lighting. Stress from chocolate buttercream + late evening hours = crappy cupcake photo.

The chocolate cupcakes nearly gave me a heart attack as I tried a meringue buttercream as I would like to have a less sweet alternative in my repitoire. Well working with egg whites and hot sugar is never fun and my buttercream came out very soft, which I don’t personally like. The flavour was similar to a chocolate mousse and luckily everyone loved it. Another hit were the green tea cupcakes, the people fell in love with the cherry blossoms. The strawberry cupcakes were served with a creamy and not so sweet frosting, perfect for the German pallet. The only problem is that this whipping cream-based frosting reacts with food colouring and makes the fondant creations bleed onto the cupcakes. Not ideal. After all the stress with the soft chocolate buttercream and the bleeding fondant, I was really stressed for the delivery. I thought that the cupcakes were not up to my standards. Luckily I stuck around at the party and saw people take their first bite of my (ugly) cupcakes. No one noticed the bleeding, no one noticed the soft buttercream, no one noticed my ugly version of Chinese candy melt characters. They just came back for more! They wanted to try all the flavours!! It was so euphoric! I just love to see people enjoy my cupcakes, but I get so stressed, uptight and self-conscious leading up to that first bite.

I used a narrow piping nozzle and melted red candy melts to create these Chinese characters. The character means 'Happiness'. I hope!

I really gotta learn how to chill out. Either way, I learned a lot and am happy that my Chinese friends were happy.

Late night inspiration: I heart fortune cookies.:)

P.S. Mmmm, I have just taken out my macaroons and there is nothing like the sweet and delicious smell of baked coconut just taking over your senses. Just imagine these sexy beasts on cupcakes!


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Cupcakes in Fall

19 Oct

I have been dying to give an ode to the beautiful fall season in Frankfurt especially after the chocolate leaves left me less than impressed. My love for fondant work continues so I decided to make some autumn themed fondant creations.

I started with leaves, the quintessential symbol of autumn. I imprinted them using embosser sticks. On the embossing sticks I added edible lustre paste by mixing the lustre dust with a little bit of water. I brushed this paste onto the embossing stick and created an sparkly imprint on my autumn leaves creating simple but sophisticated fondant leaves.

I created a pumpkin very easily by creating a small ball, adding a small stem of brown fondant, scoring it with a toothpick and wrapping some green vein made of fondant around two toothpicks to give it its curl.

To complete my autumn set, I made baby acorns, using a tutorial I found online. Let’s face it, baby acorns are much cuter than regular-sized acorns.

Four simple vanilla cupcakes, topped with a smooth, creamy frosting and all dolled up to celebrate the season. I hope these were enjoyed by their new owners!

Strawberry and Mango Cupcakes for Mr. Cupcake’s Mom

12 Oct

Last weekend I had the pleasure of baking cupcakes for Mr. Cupcake’s mom’s 60th birthday. It was a perfect October day, full of sunshine, a cool breeze and beautifully coloured trees. There were over 60 guests so we were surrounded by the fun and tradition of close family and friends.

Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream (in the front) and mango buttercream (in the back) pre-decoration.

I decided that strawberry and mango cupcakes would be on the menu for dessert. Strawberry is a big fruit favourite and I felt mango was a nice slightly exotic complement. I went with fruit cupcakes as I thought they presented a nice colour scheme and would be familiar to all the generations present at the party.

Mango cupcakes with flower accents.


For the strawberry cupcakes, I used strawberry fruit puree in the vanilla cupcake batter and then enhanced the true strawberry flavour with a strawberry buttercream that had chunks of strawberry rather than just the puree. I then stayed with the strawberry cupcake batter and added a naturally coloured mango buttercream on top.

Strawberry and mango cupcakes with full fondant decor. Oops, I went a little crazy with the lemon yellow food colouring paste. Remember: coloured fondant dries a shade or two darker. Of course, I had been told that already, time and time again.

The strawberry cupcakes were a definite hit whereas the mango ones still left something to be desired. The mango flavour was not as intense as I would have liked it. The cool thing about this whole experience was that the restaurant owner/master chef loved my cupcakes and even gave me loads of contacts where I can purchase supplies in Germany. He even brought out the fruit puree which he uses, providing me with the brand name and where I can get it so that I can achieve a more intense mango flavour in future batches. Did I ever tell you that I love Germans? So awesome. I love it when people share their information. And it inspires me to do the same. There is just something so organic about people exchanging information and something so sad about people desperately holding onto their recipes and knowledge.

So as I find out cute little tricks, I promise to share. Like with the edible paper and with the ribbon rose making. If you feel like a little cupcake challenge, let me share this great link with you for fondant figures. Have fun crafting fondant into little 3D creations for your cuppies!

Reflecting on the last 6 months and cute Hedgehog cupcakes

4 Oct

As I sat there cutting out some blue and red fondant stars, I let my mind wander and realized that with this cupcake donation for the New Comers Festival, Das Cupcake cupcakes have appeared at incredibly 3 out of the 4 major festivals in Frankfurt. During these budding first six months since inception, my cupcake babies have been at the Parade der Kulturen, the Rotlintstrasse Fest and now at the New Comers Festival (all donated, my friends!) right in the heart of the old city centre, in the Rathaus (city hall). Heh heh heh..Rat-house.

Mmm, carrot cake cupcakes, made with chopped pecans, shredded coconut and grated carrots. P.S. These cupcakes don't have anything to do with Newcomers Festival order, they are just cute.

I am very proud. I mean, ok, there may have been other more major festivals, but still. Das Cupcake has really flourished with the support of friends and the Frankfurt community. I mean in the last six months:

  • I conducted recipe development over a 6-week period, with the help of focus groups and a self-developed questionnaire.
  • I attended cupcake classes in London on Cupcake Basics where I learned how to work with fondant.
  • I attended a second cupcake class in London on Running Your Own Cupcake Business that helped me to understand what was in store.
  • I organized a vanilla taste testing extravaganza to perfect my recipe which included 8 testers, 5 vanilla frosting types and vanilla cupcake recipes.
  • I sourced a creative web designer and developed my logo.
  • I sourced international suppliers. (i.e. my Mom.:))
  • I leveraged online social networks to develop my online presence via my blog, Facebook fan page and Flickr photostream.
  • I decided to make my mark with two perfected cupcake flavours and a large focus on the decor aspect of cupcake making.
  • I organized, sourced props for and completed a cupcake photoshoot (pics still to be posted).
  • I networked with some major Frankfurt-based clubs, schools and charities.
  • I spoke in front of a room full of people (50ish, the most ever!) about Das Cupcake and my cupcake dream.

I also feel extremely lucky to have to a supportive Mr. Cupcake by my side who has helped me to read crazy German legal documents, spoke to crazy German associations on my behalf to find out about all the legal stuff and developed smart excel spreadsheets (much smarter than me) that calculate cost structures of my cupcake babies. He came to support me during my ten minute speech to the room full of people and beamed his love to me from his seat in the last row. He laughed at me during my tantrums with fondant and frosting, he advised me on serious issues such as flower embossing stamps, he measured cupcake cases with me, squinting at the numbers on the ruler, brainstormed ideas for the business and helped me clean the kitchen late into the hours of the night.

Equally awesome has been June from A-viva, who allowed me to trial my cupcake recipes on her students, invited me to countless networking events, plugged my cupcakes shamelessly to passer-byers, spent evenings chatting with me about my ideas and extended her network to me, as if it was mine and allowed me to grow my little business idea, step by step, festival by festival. Thank you so much June.

To continue that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, have a look at some cute hedgehog cupcakes I made this week.

Awesome tutorial on Wee Love Baking.

P.S. Hunching over fondant and working on the cute little details such as sprinkle centres on flowers and little hedgehog eyes, has totally strained my shoulder and neck muscles. Geez, one of the perks, eh? I can imagine it’ll get worse the more fondant work I do. I just booked an appointment with the nearest Frankfurt masseuse. Hopefully this will help. I can only imagine what other bakers have to go through. Fondant work can get very physical. Phy-si-cal. Phy-si-cal. *song in my head*

P.P.S. For more hedgehog cupcake cuteness² check out my Flickr photos.