I’m not a cupcake decorator. In fact, I’m not really a cupcake baker either. I think I can count on both hands the amount of times I’ve baked cupcakes. I don’t know why, because they’re so simple, yummy and cute. I just never got that cupcake fire burning inside of me, I guess.
It’s kind of sad, really.
I don’t eat them very often either. I guess you could say cupcakes and I are merely acquaintances, acquaintances meaning that I see them every so often in the bakery case when I pass over them for a slice of layer cake. I think it has a lot to do with the frosting to cake ratio; tons of frosting on top, then all cake, whereas with a layer cake, it’s pretty even, so you get frosting and cake with each bite. With a cupcake, sometimes you have to unhinge your jaw to get cake and frosting in one bite (frosting inevitably ending up on your nose) especially when it comes to the cupcakes with the really tall buttercream swirly tops.
However, there’s a new method to eating cupcakes, so maybe this might change my tune.
For these blue snowflake cupcakes, I used a regular sized ice cream scoop for the frosting, then pressed the scoop of frosting down, rounding the sides and flattening the tops with a small, offset spatula.
That being said, as far as elaborate cupcakes go, I always felt haute couture cupcake decorating was a whole lot of hoopla over two, three or four (depending on size of your mouth) bites, kind of like an 8-hour amuse bouche preparation. So, when Lis , the co-founder of Daring Bakers/Kitchen, asked if I would review these icing cupcake appliques, I was initially at a loss.
If it involves some sort of incredible piping or transformation into hamburgers, lions, or cupcake cell phones that actually work (trust me, some amazing cupcake or baking blogger will figure it out) etc, I’m screwed. Also, if it involved anything crazy I’ve seen in some of those cupcake books, or some kind of special, sticky stuff that’s radioactive when exposed to heat, I wasn’t sure if I could test them properly in order to give a fair review.
See how easy?
When I received the samples in the mail, I let out a sigh, well, more like a small breath of relief. These were easy! All you had to do was frost your cupcake, peel the round icing sheet off the paper, and plop it on. A little smoothing and blending here and there, and that’s it. I opened up the samples, and the sweet scent of light buttercream hit me. Buttercream should be something you wear, like perfume; Eau de Buttercream! Actually, I think they do make buttercream scents for the humans. I know Jessica Simpson has a buttercream body mousse that you can eat. Darn, I was already thinking PATENT!
With that said, starting the testing was the hardest part. I definitely needed to taste them first, so I recruited my two-year-old nephew, Zach, to help me out. Well, It’s a good thing I know the definition of restraint when there needs to be restraint (although that’s not set in stone) because with the light taste of buttercream, and the way they melt on your tongue, it’s kind of hard to stop.
Before I knew it, my little packets of samples were diminishing. With Zach’s adorable toddler voice asking for “More, Isa”, his tiny, little hand reaching, and my own brain buzzing “MORE”, my big hand reaching, I knew I had to put them away until I had an actual frosted cupcake in front of me.
When I finally got to the task at hand, I could not believe how simple it was. Ticings are for people like me, people who would love to present a pretty cupcake, but don’t always want to spend extra time piping frosting onto each cupcake, flawlessly, or turning it into something that doesn’t resemble a cupcake. However, I won’t deny it, I got caught up and found myself haute coutering my cupcakes. Some edible gold flakes here, a little airbrush there, and a decorative piping or ten. This is what using ticings did to me.
In fact, it was so incredibly easy, and looked so cute, that I wanted to keep adding to them! I even trimmed a few of them (very gently, I might add) so I could fit several of the smaller ones together on one cupcake. I really enjoyed combining the purses and shoes, well, uhhh, shoe. I accidentally cut through the only other shoe, rendering it toeless. Not something I felt would enhance my ‘material girl’ cupcake, below.
There are only two very tiny caveats for me. One, you can’t pipe those mega swirly tops if you want to apply a ticings applique. Well, you can, if you pipe the mega swirly then flatten and even out the top, since you need a flat surface to get a smooth cupcake ‘tattoo’. But, there’s nothing wrong with a ring of swirly around a beautiful ticings icing decal! Two, you’re limited to white frosting and buttercream if you want it to blend in. I think they should make chocolate ticings to satiate those who prefer chocolate frosting and buttercream. Then again, chocolate shades vary, so that could be a little difficult.
I’ll tell you one thing, ticings are addictive! With them as my ‘muse’, I wanted to bake and decorate even more cupcakes! I literally couldn’t stop until I used up all the samples I had left. So, I returned to Thanksgiving, threw in a birthday, and of course, couldn’t ignore the Christmas trees!
The First Giveaway
Here’s the best part of all of the above. When I was asked to do this review, I contacted Mia of ticings and asked if she could send me a holiday set of ticings to give to away to one of my readers. Well, she did, and I’m so excited! She sent me a set of the cutest penguins, designed by artist Kevin Gordon, and the blue snowflakes you see at the top of this entry. All you have to do is leave a comment, and I’ll choose the winner randomly 1 week from today!
While you’re all waiting, I urge you to go check out the ticings website. They also offer custom cupcake icing sheets. Just send them any design, saying, thought, your business or blog name..etc, and they can reproduce it on icing. Plus, you should see all the other beautiful ticings they have to offer, some of them designed by well known artists!
And it gets even better!
They also have an array of sprinkles and sugars that are all natural and will make your cupcakes, cakes, or anything you want to sprinkle them on, that much more delicious and pleasing to the eyes. I especially love the idea of white chocolate sprinkles! OK, I’ll take take a breath. I’m not NUTS, I’m just kind of NUTS for these ticings! I highly recommend these to just about everyone or anyone, whether you like to bake or not.
The Second Giveaway
Speaking of nuts, Sam Feferkorn of OhNuts.com offered me a $25.00 gift certificate to give away to one of my readers, Is this not perfect for your holiday baking? Nuts, dried fruits, chocolates – ad yummy infinitum! To take part in this giveaway, follow the instructions below, but remember, I’ll be choosing the winners at random from the comments left here. With one comment, you can win either of the giveaways. Don’t forget to mention the ticings giveaway in your tweets!!
1. Go to the Oh Nuts Christmas gift baskets page. Choose your favorite Christmas Gift and leave a comment on my blog post with the name and url of the gift you like the most.
Go to the Oh Nuts Hanukkah gifts page. Choose your favorite Hanukkah Gift and leave a comment on my blog post with the name and url of the gift tyou like the most.
2. Go to the Oh Nuts facebook page and post on the wall the url and name of your favorite Hanukkah Gift OR Christmas Gift. You should also write “I am here via “Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives”
3. Follow @ohnuts on Twitter and Tweet:
“Win a free Hanukkah Gift from http://bit.ly/6nIsCi Follow @ohnuts & Retweet to enter.”
“Win a free Christmas Gift from http://bit.ly/dUpizt Follow @ohnuts & Retweet to enter.”
How about the actual cupcake under all that froo froo, Lisa?
Yes, the cupcake. I couldn’t just make a plain, vanilla or chocolate cupcake. I mean, if I’m going to make cupcakes, I want to take it up a level or two. Olivari Olive Oil sent me a kit with a bottle of their Extra Virgin olive oil, a garlic press, and loads of coupons for free olive oils of all sorts, which would have been my third giveaway had the person I gave them to to hold on to had not lost them!
In any event, I have been extremely intrigued with olive oil cakes for a while, and wanted to try one out. Olive oil is good for you, so if you could substitute it for butter in a cake recipe, and it still tasted amazing, that’s a pretty good deal, right?.
So, I found a recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes with Thyme on a cupcake blog and substituted orange zest and juice for the lemon zest and juice, omitted the thyme, and added finely chopped pistachios, courtesy of OhNuts.com. Voila! Below is the recipe for Orange Pistachio Olive Oil Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting!
The olive oil is actually buttery in the cupcake, and it makes them incredibly moist! Oh, and the flavor is just..just..*insert finger kissing* delightful! Also, the white chocolate cream cheese frosting does not contain butter, so that’s another plus calorie and health wise!
Orange Pistachio Olive Oil Cupcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teasoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup Olivari extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¾ cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoons milk or cream
- Approximately 2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside. Line a 12 well muffin or cupcake tin with cupcake liners or grease and flour each well.
- In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and orange zest and rub together with your fingers to extract the oil from the zest. Add olive oil to zest-sugar mixture and mix on high speed until completely combined. Use the whisk attachment to do this if you're using a stand mixture.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is completely incorporated.
- Stir in ⅓ of the flour mixture set aside in step 1, and mix on low speed, then add in half of the orange juice, and continue mixing.
- Stir another ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the orange juice and the remaining flour mixture, beating until combined for each addition. Stir in the chopped pistachios.
- Fill cupcake liners ¾ full with batter and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until they bounce back when touched or a skewer inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes in pan, then release them onto a wire rack and let cool fully before frosting them.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, and melted white chocolate.
- Beat in vanilla and milk or cream, then add in the confectioners’ sugar, gradually, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. Make it a bit stiffer if you wish to pipe it onto the cupcakes instead of spreading it with a knife.
- Spread frosting onto cupcakes with an offset spatula or knife, or transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
Finally, since I have two giveaways for two readers, you can mention one or both of the giveaways in your comment, if you’d like. I will be announcing both winners (as I mentioned above) exactly one week from today!