Tag Archives: chocolate frosting

Learning about Cupcake Decor

2 Nov

As I wander around in the cupcake world, gawking at amazing one-of kind creations, constantly inspired by cupcake artists from around the world, I find that I have a wonderful and passionate hunger to learn more. Since I am not professionally trained in a fine culinary school, I seek resources on my own. From little hints off blogs, to amazon book reviews, to flickr photos and step-by step YouTube tutorials.

After my cupcake course at Fair Cake in London, I realize how important it is to get hands on advice and coaching. A lot of the intimidation I felt in using fondant and flower cutters vanished after I completed two wonderful cupcake classes with Shikhita Singh. The bad thing is, is that there are barely any classes in Germany like this. For cupcakes, a grand total of none and for cakes, well there are some but they are old-fashioned in their techniques. Luckily the UK is not far away and there are plenty of talented people, like Shikhita offering classes.
Also luckily, in Canada there are also plenty of opportunities to take classes alongside the professionals. So as of now, I am already bookmarking my way and inquiring about private lessons I could sign up for while I am there. One place that has been strongly recommended is the Bonnie Gordon School in Toronto. They have an excellent reputation for talented teachers and hopefully I can get a some one-on-one lessons from one of the instructors perfectly tailored to all the new things I want to learn. Also highly recommended are lessons at Golda’s Kitchen. Here there are courses, a bit like the Wilton style ones where you learn all about sugarcraft. Hopefully I can participate in two classes and have one private lesson while I am in Canada over the Christmas holidays.

Also on my Christmas list are books! For all those people stumped about what to get me for Christmas, I am preparing a nice long list of cake design books. So books that have already made the lists are:

  • What’s New Cupcake: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion
  • Professional Cake Decorating by Toba M. Garrett
  • Wedding Cake Art and Design by Toba M. Garrett

Everything from piping techniques to sugar flower creation; I want to learn it all. Flower cutters, edible lustre dust and flower veiners are just the tip of the iceberg for me! I want to turn cupcakes into things of art, not just those muffin-like things that sit next to the brownies. That is my mission.

Here are some cupcake creations I have been working on:

Woo hoo! I made these babies again and took some pictures with better light!

Here I am working with melted chocolate. I created Chinese characters. The word I chose was: Happiness.

Here, I am practicing covering cupcakes entirely with fondant and making fondant faces.

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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!


Short and Sweet Post: Golf Event Cupcake Minis

20 Sep

Last week I sponsored a golf charity event that was hosted by the president of the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow club which I am a part of as a mentor. He invited me a few weeks ago and I decided it would be a wonderful opportunity to introduce yet more Frankfurters to cupcakes.
I came up with a simple design as I knew that the majority of golfers would be male so no girlie cupcakes were allowed. I made classic flavours, French vanilla and Belgian chocolate. I frosted the vanilla ones in green tinted buttercream and added a little white M&M flavoured chocolate bean which my Trusty Apprentice recently smuggled in from the UK. I added a little toothpick flag to increase the cuteness. The chocolate cupcakes were decorated with a swirl of chocolate frosting and topped with chopped frozen Mars bars.

I scored this awesome vintage tray at Das Depot (no relation.:)) in Frankfurt for €6. Das Depot is the equivalent to say, Home Sense with lots of home accessories. It's usually super over-priced but had a sale on. Woo hoo!

Once the golfers came in and finished lunch, I walked around with tray and distributed them. I love interacting with people and talking about my favourite topic (cupcakes!) so it was a fun afternoon.

P.S. Stay tuned for my next post ─an autumn-inspired photo tutorial.

Cupcakes for an Expat

15 Sep

Going to events in and around Frankfurt has given me the opportunity to meet many new people. I recently attended American Citizens Information Night and besides the abundant supply of American goodies like bagels and Mountain Dew, I met a lot of friendly, open and kind expats. There is just something very wonderful about the immediate comfort you get from a fellow expat when you know you can speak English really quickly and they will still understand all your subtle jokes and innuendos.

As luck would have it, I got the chance to bake for one of those lovely people I met that night. Anita is an avid fan of cupcakes, an expat like me and also understands the etiquette when it comes to providing cake on your own birthday. So she requested my help to sweeten up her colleagues in the form of 1 dozen French vanilla cupcakes and 1 dozen Belgian chocolate cupcakes. She is a big chocolate lover, so I obliged by using my best chocolate cocoa. Her favourite colours include teal, blues and greens so I used those colours as accents.

I decided to include one cupcake blanketed fully in fondant as a bit of an ode to hello naomi who is a big inspiration to me. There is something very clean and professional about a cupcake with a fondant finish. I do try to keep fondant to a minimum, but I have seen this fondant covering done many times and I thought it was about time, I try it for myself.

With these fondant-blanketed cupcakes, there are different methods, however the one I used includes a buttercream layer under the fondant blanket. So if you are not a fan of the fondant, you can simply peel it off and you still have your normal cupcake with buttercream frosting to bite into. For a good how-to tutorial, visit CakeJournal. Word of warning, use recipes that guarantee you a nice domed cupcake. The key to adding a fondant top, is to have a domed top to begin with. If you don’t have a domed cupcake and instead just create the dome out of buttercream, when/if the buttercream melts, your fondant will lose its shape as it will have no dome to hang onto and could slide off into a gooey mess.

The ‘full fondant blanket’ over a cupcake is very popular across the globe, in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the UK, however interestingly enough, I recently heard that in America, cupcakes are taking a new direction in becoming more healthy ─with more vegan cupcakes for example. Highlighting this point, a vegan chef recently won the $10,000 prize on Cupcake Wars showing that traditional ingredients could be on the way out. Healthier options such as apple sauce, coconut milk and agave nectar are substituting traditionally used items such as butter, milk and refined sugar.

Personally I like to get the best of both worlds and that is why I try to achieve a balance in my cupcakes. I love the beauty and sophistication of fondant covered cupcakes but can appreciate that it should be kept to a minimum and that cupcakes don’t need to overwhelmed with sugar. This is why I chose to do this single cupcake as an accent so that the details of fondant art can be aesthetically inspiring and not sugar-overload off-putting. We shall see what the response will be like from the Germans as I introduce them to the world of fondant.

The cupcakes themselves turned out beautifully with the extra special chocolate cocoa powder and needless to say, chocolate cravings were satisfied, yet more German cupcake addicts were born and all was right in the world.