When it comes to a small cake and toppings in a fancy paper cup, nothing takes the cake like a cupcake. And Americans have taken to cupcakes in a big way:
- Americans consume a lot of cupcakes; the number of commercial snack cakes and scratch versions combines for nearly 20% of all cakes sales.
- It may be boring, but we love our classic combination of chocolate and vanilla: Americans pick chocolate or vanilla cake as their number one favorite cupcake flavoring with the opposite flavor frosting.
- By 2012, there were over 400 bakeries in the U.S. specializing in cupcakes.
- December 15th is National Cupcake Day; chocolate cupcakes get their own special, separate celebration day on October 18.
Cupcakes are perfect for children’s birthdays and adult dinner parties because it’s a neat single-serving package, ranging from mini to supersized. Brides and grooms use them as their wedding “cake” so each guest gets a choice of flavor (and no need for messy cutting and plating of cake slices). They’re portable for picnics, office lunches and school events, and who can resist buying a cupcake for a charity fundraiser?
So what’s new in the 222-year-old history of cupcakes? Here are seven notable trends:
Punch up the flavor with fresh fruit:
Both cupcake batter and frostings are getting a lift, courtesy of fresh fruit pieces and juice additions, with decorations of additional fruit on top to show off the flavor and create a dessert that’s a little less guilt-inducing.
Old desserts go the cupcake route:
Key Lime pie, carrot cake, red velvet cake, chocolate chip cookies, Boston cream pie and other standard desserts are getting the cupcake treatment. Both cake and frosting take on the classic flavors, often in multiple layers: cake, frosting, and decoration to help identify the flavors (graham cracker crumbs on top of the Key Lime pie cupcake, or a candy carrot for carrot cake cupcakes).
Combine commercial products with homemade for almost-homemade:
Peanut-butter cup cupcakes, chocolate sandwich cookies crumbled as a bottom layer for white cupcake batter, then topped with chocolate and vanilla swirled frosting and a half-cookie, or chopped chocolate chip cookies tossed into the cupcake batter, baked and topped with mini-chocolate chip-laced frosting.
Cupcakes go ethnic:
Cupcakes can people of all ages and diverse backgrounds together: Filipinos have a cupcake filled with cheese, the Cuban classic tres leches cake is “muy bueno” as a delectable cupcake and cupcakes go green with the addition of powdered Japanese matcha tea.
No gluten? Vegan diet? No problem:
It used to be that gluten allergies didn’t let them eat (cup)cakes, but not anymore; bakeries offer alternative cupcakes made with non-wheat flours, nut milks, egg substitutes and plant-based sweeteners. The science of substitution is so precise, the average cupcake consumer often cannot tell the difference between a classic cupcake and an allergen-free cupcake.
It’s not all about sweetness:
Sweet no longer stands alone, as salted caramel sauce, chopped pretzel pieces, bacon, chopped tomatoes and shaved truffles add a new flavor contrast to cupcake frostings and fillings. The cake portion of the cupcake has gone savory, too; produce such as zucchini, onion, potato, and corn have crossed the dividing line and moved from muffin territory to the cupcake’s compound. A whole dinner plate is now compressed into cupcake forms, such as lasagna, chicken Parmesan and spaghetti, macaroni and cheese casserole and chicken pot pies.
The gourmet gift in the perfect portion: A delicious dessert delivery, without the melting mess or concerns over storage space is available to dessert lovers and their friends with Sunflour Baking Company’s cupcakes in a jar. Twelve different flavor combinations, elegantly layered in glass packaging for maximum visual appeal. Each jar comes with two divine, can’t-wait-to-dig-in-now cupcakes, a spoon and napkins. The only thing you need is an ever-present appetite for a sweet treat and a place to sit and enjoy it. Call us or order online and we’ll ship anywhere in the U.S. to satisfy your sweetest needs.