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The Other Cake

June 03, 2007|Rachel E. Johnson

Laura Reisert of Calabasas was figuring out how she could save money on her wedding. When she got to the part about the wedding cake--which could easily cost her a thousand dollars--she hit on the salvation of every mom who's faced the challenge of feeding a mob: cupcakes. Besides, says the 22-year-old, the three tiers of cupcakes from Sprinkles in Beverly Hills will let her put her stamp on her July wedding in Malibu. "Having cupcakes is fun, quirky, unique," says Reisert. "They speak to our personalities."

Sprinkles was one of the first bakeries to ride the wave of cupcake popularity. Executive pastry chef Candace Nelson opened the store in 2005 to follow in the footsteps of her cupcake-baking great-grandmother. Then Barbra Streisand sent Oprah Winfrey a box of treats from Sprinkles, and a star was born.

"After Oprah, it was a new, trendy way to get dessert," says Sprinkles staffer Lauren Nelsen of the cupcake bonanza, which includes new Sprinkles stores in Newport Beach and Dallas.

There are 20 varieties of Sprinkles cupcakes--from the typical chocolate and vanilla combinations to chai latte and red velvet--at $36 for a dozen. But if you insist on making them yourself, here's a recipe courtesy of the bakers at Sprinkles.

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Great-Grandma's Coconut Cupcakes

From Sprinkles pastry chef Candace Nelson

Makes 18 to 20

2 cups sifted cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup whole milk

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon coconut extract

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

2 large egg whites, plus 1 whole large egg

Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line two greased standard muffin pans with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a measuring cup, combine the milk and extracts. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg whites and the egg and mix until they are combined. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until it is combined. Gradually drizzle in all the milk mixture. Add the remaining dry mixture and mix carefully until just combined. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cups (they should be two-thirds full) and bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

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Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

8 ounces cold cream cheese

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 cup sweetened coconut shavings

In the bowl of an electric mixer, slowly mix the cream cheese, butter and salt until fluffy and combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Mix in the extracts until incorporated and the frosting is smooth. Frost each cooled cupcake with about 2 tablespoons of frosting and immediately top with 1 teaspoon of sweetened coconut shavings.

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