I began taking my cupcake making seriously in High School. My tiny little school had a lovely tradition of bringing baked goods for your friends on their birthday. I started off small making simple Duncan Hines yellow cake with chocolate frosting, but soon my creativity got the best of me.
Before I knew it I was making Chernobyl cakes for my Ukrainian friend (fake barbed wire, and sickle and hammer included)... not the most tasteful joke but he thought it was funny. Eventually I came to discover the magic of a cupcake. Rather than having to theme my frosting drawings around one central idea, I could make a barrage of different crazy cupcakes! I actually once drew a portrait of the birthday boy on a cupcake, that one didn't go over as well as the Communist Cake.
Baking cupcakes become soothing, somewhat of a meditation or an escape for me, and definitely one of my favorite pastimes. A few summers back, right after the economy crashed there was an ungodly number of homeless people in Venice Beach, CA (20 minutes from my house). Luckily, California has a ton of incredible organizations which provide food and shelter, but they don't often have cupcakes.
So I decided to make 89 crazy colored happy cupcakes to help cheer up all those who were in desperate need of a hug and a treat.
Before I had even given out ten, people started calling me the cupcake fairy, I title I am proud to hold. But I must say that my Shrek inspired green variation was not a hit. It's kind of like the purple Ketchup, even though it tastes the same, it grosses people out.
Right around the end of high school (just after I discovered my love of these tiny personalized cakes) cupcakes became a huge craze. Between Sprinkles and Magnolia Bakery (and a ton more) they were taking over LA. But it seems the cupcake frenzy just recently hit the Food Network with Cupcake Wars (a show I actually find immensely boring). And this food fad has actually made it all the way down to the South.
I usually get my store bought cupcakes from Kupcake Factory on Claiborne (less than a mile from where I live) but I recently discovered Be Sweet Cupcakes on Magazine St. just before Whole Foods. I actually went there to get Taylor a lovely little surprise for her birthday.
These babies were SUPER sugary. Possibly too sweet actually. I think I prefer Kupcake Factory to Bee Sweet, but their flavors were very creative. I got a lovely selection including 1 red velvet, 2 banana foster, 1 pralines and cream, 1 s'more, and an "Elvis" (Banana bread cupcake filled with marshmallow fluff and topped with peanut butter frosting, chocolate chips, and marshmallows).
My roommate Meredith (or Megadeath as we like to call her) said it best, "one bite of a fancy cupcake is equal to the sweetness and intensity of a whole homemade cupcake," and I think I'm just more of a homemade kinda gal (especially if I'm making it)!