Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On Cupcakes and Cooking School

I don't make cupcakes unless I really have to. And they don't look anything like the ones pictured here (it's a good time to give the fine folks at Viking a photo credit). I don't make it a habit of buying them either. I live down the street from a nice enough looking shop that hawks cupcakes that are easy on the eyes and hard on the wallet, waist and palate. They consist of dense, flavorless cake and heavy buttercream. Buttercream is just not right for a cupcake.

Just west of me is a different sort of shop, a purveyor of more simple sweets. Their cupcakes look like something you might have made at home and taste like a good version of a basic supermarket cake with a shortening-based icing and a loud shout-out to food coloring. I find their cupcakes more appealing, mostly because, even with the shortening they simply taste better (though the actual cake part is nearly as flavorless).

Seems with all these opinions I should be able to make a decent looking cupcake myself, but the sad truth is that my decorating skills have never been my strong suit (tho I will say that at least my cupcakes taste fantastic!). So I'm considering a little tutelage (cupcake class, anyone?!?) in that department, either through The Chopping Block or the Viking Cooking School up in Glenview (thanks, Yvonne, for the tip on the latter).

How do you judge a cupcake?

Further reading: Not So Guilty Pleasure (or, If only somebody could get the cupcake right) in The Atlantic.


Kate Jaquet said...

Kurt is a self proclaimed authority on cupcakes. While he has clear opinions on what makes a superior cupcake (vanilla with chocolate frosting), to my knowledge, he has never met a cupcake he didn't like. I am sure he'd be over the moon if I were to take a cupcake class with you! Let's make that happen sometime soon!

Katie Fairbank said...

sounds good!

Ever been to Sprinkles? I think it started in LA but is spreading. Apparently it is the bees knees.

Yvonne, My Halal Kitchen said...


Your cupcakes look delicious!

Also, thanks for the link to my site. The Viking schools really are great places to sharpen baking/culinary skills in a relaxed environment. Be sure to let us know how it goes!