Friday, February 12, 2010

Can we talk, cupcake?

With Valentine's Day on Sunday, I thought it was a good time to consider the cupcake.

In the last few years, cupcakes have gone from kindergarten treat to trendy food, with fancy cupcake shops popping up like jellybeans in green plastic straw.

Generally, I'm pro-cupcake. Cupcakes have significant advantages in the cake world, besides their obvious cuteness: You get a controlled portion of cake, you usually get a good frosting-to-cake ratio, and their little tops are just begging to be decorated. Yes, there are many cupcake transgressions, mostly involving dry cake, dried-out, crispy frosting, and not enough frosting. But cupcake shortcomings are not my issue today.

My issue:

It's hard to eat a cupcake. I was thinking about this recently while communing with a particularly good chocolate cupcake with mocha frosting.

It shouldn't be hard. It's just a cupcake. But as you can see by the picture above, there is a logistical issue here. Most mouths are no more than 1 1/2 inches, tooth tip to tooth tip, when opened wide. And take it from me -- I've got a big mouth. (Go ahead, you can say -- everyone else does.)

But, even the shorter homemade cupcakes are at least 2 inches high, frosting including. And the real extravaganza bakery cupcakes can top 3 inches from bottom to frosting tip. So how do you eat a cupcake without getting frosting all over your nose?

Yes, you can just eat the frosting. But that negates the joyous combination of cake and frosting, which is kind of the whole point.

So here's what I do: Unwrap the cupcake. Grasp the bottom of the cake and gently pull away. Cupcake cake always seems to split in half pretty easily. Eat the bottom layer of cake. Take a lick or two from the frosting top to simultaneously enjoy it and tame the height. What you're left with is a slimmer layer of cake and a good helping of frosting. Cupcake nirvana is closer to achievement.

Good luck, and feel free to share your own method if you have a means of taming unruly cupcakes. In the meantime, happy Valentine's Day.
And remember: If he uses a napkin to wipe the frosting off the tip of your nose, you ought to seriously reconsider the relationship.


Anonymous said...

That's exactly how I eat them, too! I like the high ratio of frosting to cake that is left when you pull the bottom off. In fact, it's sometimes not even worth eating the plain cake, just the top!

Willem said...

I like what I call the "cupwich" method. Start out the same as you say, by pulling the bottom half off. But instead of eating it separately, stack it on top of the cupcake so the frosting ends up in the middle of two cake layers. Voila, a "cupwich".

Of course some are too nice looking; you might not want to ugly up the frosting.

Kathleen Purvis said...

That's pretty brilliant, Willem. I'll look for an opportunity to try that.

MarkH said...

Why limit one of the joys of life with good table manners? Eat a cupcake like a four year-old, especially if there are any present. Over-stuff your mouth, get frosting on your cheeks, spill some on the floor, and show-off your frosting grin to the four year-olds. Stay in your state of sugar and fat induced euphoria until your Significant Other cuts you a third dirty look, and then clean up the mess.

Jessica said...

that is soooo true!!! giant cupcakes are hard to eat, logistically speaking. I guess kids don't care cause they don't mind have sugar all over their face.