Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Cookbook Review - Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

The latest publication from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia celebrates the lasting trend of the cupcake. From humble to glorious and everything in between, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes explores the versatility of our favourite single-serving treat.
This 352 page book contains 175 recipes with full, glossy photos for just about every one.
The book is divided into categories according to type of cupcake, such as Swirled and Sprinkled, Dipped and Glazed, Filled and Layered, Piped and Topped, Celebrations, Holidays, and more.
There is no shortage of inspiring recipes and photos, something for everyone.

Like other Martha Stewart books of late, this is a collaborative effort. The recipes are credited to the editors of Martha Stewart Living and that can be both positive and negative. Positive as it results in a great variety of methods and techniques for baking cupcakes, and negative as the quality can vary between recipes.

The very first recipe that I tried did not work out. I have not included a picture but, as the others did work out well, I think it's 50/50 whether it was me or the recipe to blame. Que sera sera, on to more cupcakes!

Martha refers to the cupcake as "a small and perfect indulgence", and I couldn't agree more. Who doesn't love an individually wrapped cakelet of their very own? The recipes in this book are generous, many making over two dozen, so this is a good book for parties and fund raisers, as well as family fun.

The book includes Martha's signature how-to sections that are very handy indeed. Essential ingredients, tools, how to prepare a piping bag, pastry tips, displaying and giving, and many (American) internet sources for specialty ingredients.

Pictured above are Mocha Cupcakes, rich chocolate and espresso with a seven minute coffee frosting applied playfully and embellished with a chocolate covered espresso bean. We loved this remarkably light cupcake and so did the neighbours who we gave half a dozen to. No word if anyone stayed up past bedtime as a result!

The next ones we tried were these cute little Chai-Tea Mini Cupcakes. We served them at a more adult function where they were very well received. They are mildly sweet and nicely spiced, much like a carrot cake. Perfect for an afternoon garden party.

But by far my absolute favourite were these Amaretto-Pineapple Cupcakes. The light cake is saturated with Amaretto, split and filled with the most glorious flambeed pineapple sauce, topped with whipped cream and more of the exquisite sauce. It's not for beginners, a caramel is made.. the sauce is lit on fire.. but oh, my! I would love this on vanilla ice cream as well.

Even after my mishap the first time around, I loved the book in the end. If you are looking for a good collection of cupcake recipes that use the best quality ingredients and go beyond your basic yellow cake and butter cream - this book is for you.