Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In defense of the cupcake.

Today I saw an article on announcing that cupcakes were one of seven food fads that are going out of style.  Are cupcakes really losing their cool?  Reading that immediately prompted me to write an entry here to make the point that cupcakes could not possibly be going by the wayside.  While people are always looking for the latest and greatest, does that--should that--apply to food, especially dessert, as well?  Food is one of those things that we would find completely disappointing if it were to change or go away.  When I go to a restaurant, and I am treated to an amazing dish, I go back precisely to have the same experience again.  And so with the cupcake.  With that, I have my top five reasons for why cupcakes should not be cast aside:

1.  Cupcakes have built-in portion control.  At a time when dietary intake is a primary concern, cupcakes make it easier to restrict yourself to one serving.
2.  Cupcakes are green.  Since they can be hand-held, no extra plastic forks or paper plates are required.
3.  Cupcakes help the economy.  At easily $3+ dollars a pop, the local mom and pop bakeries can stay afloat.
4.  Cupcakes make even an average baker look spectacular.  Cupcakes can look cute and charming and delectable with less effort than many other desserts, even cake.
5.  Cupcakes remind you of your childhood.  And how can anyone resist returning to that innocence and those days of being carefree?  (Actually, cupcakes remind me of NYC, where I had my first cupcake fad experience--and I *love* NYC).

Okay, I'm being a little silly.  I do still love cupcakes, though, for the reasons above--especially the last two.  It is a funny thing to me that food, like fashion, can be faddish.  I wonder why we, as people, can't be completely satisfied by the same things that once satisfied us before.  I suppose that's a deeper question for another time...  Maybe you can tell me whether you still love cupcakes for what they are--cute, delicious baked goods--or if you're beginning to abandon them as a past trendy craze (don't worry, I won't take it personally). 

Banana Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart.
Makes about a dozen cupcakes.

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
2 large eggs
1/2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F degrees and line cupcake pan.

In a bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  Mix butter, bananas, eggs and vanilla into flour mixture.  Divide batter into cupcake wells.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 25-30 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pan and cool on a rack.

Cream Cheese Whipped Cream Frosting

8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
2 cups heavy cream

Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and almond extract.  Using the whisk attachment, whip in the heavy cream, until stiff peaks form.