Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Mmm, cupcakes. They're cute and taste good! Who doesn't like a cupcake? The pictures below are of cupcakes I made using recipes and decoration ideas from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.

All recipes are from scratch. Except for a few decorative candies, the marzipan and fondant, this book will teach you how to make everything in your own kitchen. No box mixes!

While having fancy equipment is nice it's not necessary to make the cakes and frosting. I own a Sunbeam mixer (with a wonky beater) and find I can still make my frosting stiff or fluffy - whichever I need. If you want to do the fun and fancy frosting decorations you will need a piping bag and tips. I bought a 12 piece Wilson set and find I can make everything so far in the book. The frosting is most of the fun and I recommend getting some tips, even if just a few, so you can swirl and peak and make petals. Having an offset spatula facilitates doing frosting like on the book cover but you can always use a butter knife. Picture: White and Devil's Food cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream in roses and peaks.

Buy the best quality of ingredients as your budget allows because these cakes are meant to be delicious! If you skimp you could run into problems. For instance, I used chocolate chips once instead of baker's chocolate and the frosting was very disappointing. I learned my lesson! If it says use cake flour, not regular flour, buy the cake flour, etc. These recipes are for gourmet (but doable) cake so don't waste your time and money on the wrong ingredients! That being said, I only use imitation vanilla when it calls for the real deal. The only ingredient I've had trouble finding is marzipan. Picture (above): Devil's Food cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream for grass and marzipan for ladybugs. Tip: don't do frosting with sweaty hands or the frosting will melt in your piping bag and refuse to form well. Also, these were outside in June so, the "grass" looks dewy. Picture (left): Banana-Pecan w/ Swiss Meringue Buttercream (chocolate version gone wrong) and fondant monkey faces.

The instructions are thorough and easy to follow. I am never left guessing. The writing is clear and there is a helpful section, The Basics, in the back on baking tools, ingredients, cookies, frosting, presentation ideas and templates, ingredient sources, and an index. The recipes are grouped as follows: Swirled and Sprinkled, Filled and Layered, Piped and Topped, Birthdays, Holidays, and Celebrations. Each has at least one full-page color photo of the finished cupcakes and several other photos show how to make frosting and decorations. Picture: One-Bowl Chocolate cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream as beetles and butterflies. Cake not recommended for humid days. The wings were difficult to cut, with lots of crumbs, as the cake was super moist.

Total times for making these cakes ranges from two to six hours depending on the complexity of the cake and frosting and how many you make. There is truly a cake for every occasion. I began baking not knowing what I was doing and am getting better with each try. There's really no reason to be intimidated by any of the recipes. It is totally possible to make parts at a time - bake the cakes and refrigerate/freeze them one day then make the frosting the next.

I'm not a Martha Stewart junky at all. I've only seen parts of her show. Yet, I've enjoyed baking these cakes and will keep making more from this book. The cakes are always a big hit. You won't go wrong with Martha Stewart's Cupcakes!
Picture (above): Applesauce-Spice cupcakes with Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting. Picture (right): Yellow Buttermilk cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream as pigs. Picture (below): Black Forest Cupcake with sweet pastry cream (inside), cherries and chocolate ganache!

Publisher: Clarkson Potter, 2003     
Pages: 352
Full Title: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat
Source: Christmas Gift
Rating: 4.5 Stars     


  1. Oh, wow! I really do love this book. The Streusel Cupcakes are my favorite, and quite simple. I do want the little blow-torch that you use for the s'more cupcakes!

  2. Shelley, I haven't tried the streusel cupcakes yet but they look yummy! And a mini blow torch would be so much fun!

  3. I can vouch for the "yumminess" of several of these cupcakes, thanks to Chelle's expertise and
    Some of Martha's decorating ingredients are a bit
    difficult to locate, so improvising becomes necessary.