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The cupcake abides

No flash in the pan, this pint-size dessert is a sweet fad that won't go away.

June 03, 2009|Mary MacVean

Was that supposed to be an insult? Come on, childhood is part of the point. And besides, nutrition-conscious schools have outlawed cupcakes.

"I actually am in love with what my friends call the chemical cupcakes" -- supermarket ones sweet enough to make your teeth seize, Ostrander says.

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Grown-up pleasure

But despite the popularity of basic chocolate or vanilla, don't mistake cupcakes for kid-only food. Try blueberry-Port cupcakes or "cuptails" flavored like margaritas. Or tiers of elegantly iced wedding cupcakes.

And Martha Stewart is chiming in with some -- surprise, surprise -- labor-intensive decoration and presentation ideas in her book "Martha Stewart's Cupcakes," published Tuesday. These include graduation cupcakes topped with cookies made to look like diplomas (tied with blue sour candy ribbons), cupcakes covered in piped grass icing with little marzipan ladybugs, and cupcakes frosted to look like little chicks.

And then there's the Obama "cupcake cake" from Polkatots Cupcakes in Pasadena.

The winner of the 2009 L.A. Cupcake Challenge, an event that drew 450 people, the shop makes goodies that look like decorated sheet cakes but actually are dozens of nestled cupcakes.

One of their creations is a knockoff of Shepard Fairey's Barack Obama portrait in red and blue, which took about 100 cupcakes, says one of the shop's owners, Alma Tarriba.

There also is a scarlet mystery in cupcakes: Why do customers fall for red velvet?

"We've tried to figure that out and we can't," says Brogan Faye, an owner of Yummy Cupcakes in Burbank and Santa Monica.

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mary.macvean@latimes.com

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