April 2, 2011

Petite Cupcakes

With this being the last week of the quarter, I had to give one last speech for my speech class. The category was informational, so I decided to do an info/demo speech about Cupcakes! We had to have visuals, so I brought in some ingredients like extracts, cocoa powder, sprinkles, etc. I also brought in my pastry bag and a fancy little spatula. And of course, I just had to bring in some cupcakes for everyone! What would a speech about cupcakes be without cupcakes?!

Above are my posters, and as you can see I did one about the top 10 classic cupcakes flavors (courtesy of TLC), and of course some of the most unique cupcakes flavors I have heard. Some of these came off of the hit Food Network TV show Cupcake Wars, while others I had found off the web. Everyone thought my posters were very cute, and the teacher even kept them as examples for the future!

So, first in my speech I talked about the history of the cupcake. They first evolved because the hearth ovens they used back in the day would not properly bake regular size cakes; they would burn on the outside and not be cooked enough on the inside.  They also were created to save time in the kitchen, as they were much more convenient. They first started baking cupcakes in the 1800s, but their name wasn't "cupcakes." In fact, they were originally called Number Cakes or 1234 cakes. This was because it was easy to remember it by the ingredients (1c. butter, 2c. sugar, 3c. flour, etc.) Later they changed the name to cupcakes because of two theories: they were first baked in cups, or the ingredients were measured by the cup.

After that, I talked about the steps for baking a cupcake--mixing the batter, baking, frosting, etc.  For the frosting part, I did a little demo with my pastry bag. Then I ended with the evolution of modern cupcakes today, talking about "cupcakeries," and Candace Nelson, the first person to create a cupcakery. I also told them she was a judge on Cupcake Wars, so I told them a little bit about the show. This is where I used my posters to tell them about the different kinds of cupcakes, some more classic, and some not-so-classic. They all thought the "Thanksgiving Dinner" cupcake would be the grossest...at least, that's what I perceived--they all groaned when I read it off.

Of course I ended the speech with a final conclusion paragraph and a memorable last sentence: "So whether you would choose a classic vanilla cupcake or a tomato soup cupcake, this tiny dessert has something for everyone." And then I passed out the cupcakes! Woo!

Both cupcakes had the same base: chocolate cake with a classic vanilla buttercream frosting. However, I tried to make them represent the whole "classic vs weird/modern/quirky" cupcakes we have today, so for half the cupcakes, I did a caramel swirl on the top to represent the atypical cupcake (Ok, ok, I know it's not really that strange...but hey, I tried my best!) And for the "classic" representation, I just added some pearl-like sprinkles.

Of course, knowing High School kids, I knew the caramel cupcakes would go first. But, even so, everyone said they loved the cupcakes. Some said they were the best they've ever had (not to brag or anything...). And the teacher said (direct quote, by the way): "These are just darling!" I gave her two cupcakes. ; )

Photos before they were decorated.  The cupcakes did turn out fabulously! Actually, when I got home both of my parents texted me to see how my speech went. And both of them said the same thing in their second message: Are there any cupcakes left? Sadly, there weren't. They were pretty disappointed. But the good thing is, they are so quick and easy to make, so I could whip them up any time!
Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. water
1 tsp. vinegar

Mix all ingredients well with a mixer. It should be brown and smooth, free of lumps. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Cupcakes will turn out moist and delicious. For MINI cupcakes, turn down the oven 20-30 degrees and bake for half the time (approximately--just keep watching the oven to make sure they don't over bake.)

*Buttermilk or milk may be substituted for water. (I just used water)
*Melted butter may be substituted for oil. (I used oil--and voila, they're vegan!)

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