I've never been a fan of food as a spectator sport, so I usually steer clear of television shows that make cakes the size of a small horse or competitions to make the largest pan of paella on the planet. I'm more interested in how to make normal portions in the best way possible. That's why it might surprise you to see me featuring both of these books - The Cupcake Diaries and Sweet Celebrations. They are the two cookbooks that have come from the kitchen of Georgetown Cupcake (otherwise known on television as DC Cupcakes).
published by HarperOne, 2011, $23.99 (US)
The Cupcake Diaries is the fist book the sisters and stars of the television show, Sophie and Katherine, have published. It includes many of the cupcake recipes from their various shows in addition to a few of their Greek family recipes. It also tells you the story of their family and how they developed their love of baking at the side of their Greek grandmother.
published by HarperOne, 2012, $24.99 (US)
Sweet Celebrations is more of a good thing. Rather than being arranged by seasons, Sweet Celebrations is thematically arranged. Whether you're having a life celebration, holiday, everyday party or outdoor get-together, there are cupcakes and inspiration for every event.
The recipes are in American measurements, which means you need to have measuring cups and spoons at the ready. And if you're looking to discover how they make their signature swirl of frosting; it's in there - step by swirly step. These two books have lots of great ideas and inspiration for designing your own cupcakes. If you are harboring aspirations of having your own cupcake bakery, you will find Sophie and Katherine's home truths delivered alongside the recipes. I always appreciate it when an author tells you what it's really like behind the scenes. Despite the pink and fluffiness of it, running a cupcake bakery is a lot of hard work and perseverance and the authors don't shy away from it.
I have watched enough of Sophie and Katherine's shows to know that genuine passion lies at the heart of their business. To them cupcakes are not just a commodity, but a desire to make people happy with their baking and do good things with it. Many of their large scale creations (the kind I generally find over the top), are done for good causes, so it's hard to dismiss them entirely when designs like a Girl Scout badge made out of cupcakes might inspire young girls to get busy baking.
I've now made two batches of vanilla cupcakes from their first book with good results. Not having tasted the original cupcakes I'm not sure how they compare, but I was very happy with them and would make them again but with a different brand of butter. (You wouldn't guess it, but butter can make a huge difference in cupcakes.)
If slimming is in your New Year's agenda, then you should look away now. But if you're not afraid of a few extra calories and want to add some fun to your baking, you might want to try:
- Irish Cream Cupcakes (Cupcake Diaries)
- Cherry Blossom Cupcakes (Cupcake Diaries)
- Vanilla Buttercream Wedding Cupcakes (Cupcake Diaries)
- Champagne Cupcakes (Sweet Celebrations)
- Cotton Candy Cupcakes (Sweet Celebrations)
- Blackberry Cupcakes with Lemon Filling (Sweet Celebrations)
- White Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes (Sweet Celebrations)