Cupcakes and Wars | | Brainerd, Minnesota

Cupcakes and Wars


You've heard the old adage: "Never go shopping when you're hungry."  I think we can safely expand on that: "Never go shopping after watching Cupcake Wars." 

Growing up in my quaint Central Minnesota hometown, cupcakes came in two flavors: white and chocolate.  And let's face it; no one really wanted the white ones.  I still remember going to a friend's house where her mother made them in cherry. What? Cherry? You can actually DO that? Sweet! When I asked my mother if we could have cherry cupcakes, she looked at me like I was an alien fresh off the mothership.  I guess that meant no.

Flash forward...I'm all grown up...and in my greatly expanded world, cupcakes come in ONE flavor: chocolate.  That works because, again, no one really wanted the white ones anyway... so let's just erase them off the menu.  Being "fancy" meant deciding between chocolate, milk chocolate or sour cream chocolate frosting slathered on with a butter knife. I got pretty good at the dips and swirls that made it look like a very brown angry sea.  Maybe some sprinkles. Oooh...we're going all out now.

This was all well and good until a silly cable show that I had no intention of ever watching: Cupcake Wars.  The general premise of the show is that 4 groups of cupcake chefs compete to win the grand prize. In this venue "ordinary" just won't do.  The cupcakes have to look as great as they taste and the flavors are those that would have blown my 10 year old mind.  Almond, orange, green tea...with toppings that look like works of art.  The big finale has it down to two chefs who must create a 1,000 cupcake display in 2 hours.  I'm dually impressed. I'm happy to make 24 cupcakes in 2 hours - and that's before sprinkles.  I also realize that this show is causing me to step up my game.

Enter a local retailer who typically has a display of children's books by the register; a great impulse buy for parents and grandparents.  Since I qualify as "Grandparent" I was perusing the books for my grandsons when I spotted (gasp) a cupcake cookbook.  The cover looked good enough to eat - I had to look inside.

As I opened the cover, I swear a light shown like a beacon and a choir of angels sang in unison. There it was - a perfect nirvana of cupcake recipes, frosting recipes, embellishments including those ornate chocolate swirly pieces that grace the cupcake tops - and all of it is perfectly do-able for the home cook.  Page after wondrous page of ideas for cupcakes in flavors and combinations I'd never dreamed of. I'm in heaven!!

 My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and I was probably drooling like one of Pavlov's dogs. I must have this, yes!  I will bake and I will decorate and my dieting coworkers will hate me. I will become proficient with my bags and tips. I'll finally learn how to roll fondant.  I'll drizzle chocolate in web-like patterns on wax paper and when it hardens, I'll place them carefully atop my cupcakes. I'll make embossed fondant flowers. It's going to be awesome!  My friends and family will be begging me to bake for them. Yes, I must have this book!

Once I came down off of THAT cloud it occurred to me that my daughters are already very good at baking and that each of them will want one of these cookbooks. If I don't buy one for them they'll "borrow" mine and I might not get it back. I couldn't allow that to happen. The price was certainly right, so I purchased one for each of us. Great plan until I realized that neither of the girls has the required bags/tips/colorings needed to make these miniature masterpieces.  Uh, this might get a more expensive than originally envisioned.

The solution: Today's plan is to hit the local craft store for a goodly supply of cupcake liners and any other supplies that the girls might need.  After all, if we're going to become the Cupcake Queens of the Brainerd area, the girls are going to have to stop shopping at Mom-mart and possess some pans of their own.  They don't know about any of this, so don't tell....shhhhh!  It's a surprise!