In July, I went to Atlanta to see my parents (we were celebrating Christmas in July, since I had not been able to get home during the holidays). As a present, I took my mom and sister on a cupcake tour around Atlanta. There are 6 highly recommended cupcake bakeries, and we made it to 3 of them over 2 days. (We tried a 4th one twice, but it was closed both times, and the other 2 were just too far away.) But, of the 3 we tried, we tasted a total of 12 cupcakes, from traditional red velvet, to salted caramel, Mexican chocolate, Oreo and coconut. It was such fun, and there are so many great combinations.
I also have an ongoing debate with some good friends about the best cupcakes to be found. I maintain that the Hummingbird Bakery in London has the best cupcakes ever. But, my friends are tireless in their quest to bring me new and ever improving cupcakes. I admire them for that! Most recently, they brought me a vegan version from Ms. Cupcake, at Greenwich Market, which I was very dubious about. How can you make a decent cake without eggs and butter? However, Ms. Cupcake managed it; they were quite delicious, and all the more impressive because they had no dairy. And, the flavors ... Cherry, chocolate mint, triple chocolate, key lime.
So, by now you are thinking words like obsessed and fanatic. Well, that's fine. I am obsessed with a good cupcake, and the truth is, I am a bit fanatical about a delicious moist cake, topped with an equal amount of thick, sweet frosting. Lucky for me, Hummingbird Bakery has made their recipes available to all in their cookbook of the same name. They share three fool-proof recipes for frosting (vanilla, chocolate and cream cheese), as well as myriad recipes for different cupcakes. And, if you need something more, there are also pies, cakes and other sweets.
I was surprised to see some less-than-positive reviews on Amazon for the book, and I must say, in my opinion, the reviewers could not be more wrong. The recipes are simple, with common ingredients and excellent outcomes. The techniques are a bit different from traditional cake methods, but I find the resulting cake to be perfect.
Check out the book, and take an afternoon to bake a few types of cupcakes; you won't be sorry! And, if you have suggestions of where to get good cupcakes, let me know. I'll go almost anywhere for a little taste of heaven!
Some suggested cupcake resources:
Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook: Available with American measures at Amazon.com and with British/EU measures at Amazon.co.uk
And to dress up your cupcakes, check out Bella Cupcake Couture, for cute wrappers in trendy patterns.