Pros: Extremely useful for beginner or non-ambitious cupcake decorators!
Cons: Has a narrow purpose
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review book (published 2009) courtesy of Chronicle Books.
I love cake. I ADORE cupcakes, which are small, portable, easy-to-indulge-in tidbits of cake. They’re more fun if you decorate them a bit, make them a little snazzy, but it’s hard to find a good middle ground. There’s a ton of cake-making equipment out there, but maybe you just want a simple swirled icing, nothing too fancy, and you don’t want to spend much money to do it. There are books by the dozens teaching you how to make elaborate icing flowers, but maybe like me you just don’t have that kind of artistic talent—or hands that steady! (Let’s face it—anything fancy I try to make is going to eventually turn up on Cake Wrecks.) Or perhaps you do want to get into decorating on a larger scale, but you want to start small, keep things simple until you get the hang of the basics.
In any of these cases, Elinor Klivans’s Cupcake Kit: Recipes, Liners, and Decorating Tools for Making the Best Cupcakes! just might be the answer to your prayers!
The cupcake kit includes colorful, decorative cupcake papers for regular-size and mini cupcakes. It also includes a decorating bag with coupler and four different tips, and a small cookbook with a handful of recipes. No, it isn’t a huge amount of stuff, but remember, this is aimed at a very specific audience—folks who want to do a bit of simple decorating and don’t want to buy big sets of tips and tons of paste colors. It’ll serve you well as a quick beginner intro (making it also a great gift), a quick fix if you need to make a few dozen cupcakes and don’t have the equipment to do it, or a great way to learn how to make a few pretty cupcakes if you already know you can’t or don’t want to do the really fancy stuff!
The recipe booklet is pretty, with nice layout and photos, and includes both the basics (yellow and chocolate cupcake batters, cream cheese and chocolate frostings) and some nifty diversions. Personally I like the “hummingbird swirls,” which have fruit and nuts in them, and are topped with a lovely ivory-colored cream cheese frosting. (This is the first time I’ve seen a cream cheese frosting that called for both cream cheese and butter, and it’s really good!) Simple decorating ideas range from swirls of frosting piped from a star tip, to easy spiderweb designs, jelly bean “eggs” in a nest of coconut shavings, chocolate shavings, glazed lemon peel, and a few other easy-to-implement and delicious decorations.
It’s a narrow-purpose item, but it’s perfectly designed for its target audience! And now, for one of those lovely cupcakes. Like I said, not so steady a hand, but it’s still kinda pretty and definitely delicious!