OK, we admit it. When a cookbook press release begins, as The Big Book Of Cupcakes does, with “Get ready for adorably decorated,” we run. And then we notice that the author is not yet another cupcake bakeshop — thank goodness — but the “editors at Betty Crocker.” Of course it is. We aren't exactly keen on giving cupcakes revolutionary pastry status. But if we're going to eat a cupcake, well, Betty Crocker seems like exactly the woman we'd turn to for honest-yet-everyday advice.
If anyone should be making “kids' party favorites” cupcakes late at night, it is Ms. Crocker, not our corner pastry chef. Sure, those “dazzling holiday and special-occasion cupcakes” — think witch's hat (carved Tootsie Roll) topped cupcakes and “hole in one Father's Day cupcakes” complete with putting green-colored sprinkles and crushed graham cracker crumbs for faux sand — are here in abundance. And yet as this is Betty, it feels appropriate — or at least in that you-probably-really-don't-want-to-make that “princess cupcake” or “monster truck cupcake” in the Kids Party Cupcakes chapter way. (Betty likes monster truck jams these days? Who knew.)
But of course you will make them for your kids. And who knows, maybe even enjoy it. All we know is there is a pretty darn cute bunny cupcake on page 204 with pink sugar-lined marshmallow ears. And that we're just thankful this isn't another cupcake shop's cookbook. Or a cupcake book by a pastry chef masquerading as a cupcake “chef” in a temporary moment of dessert plating insanity (kill us with cute now, please). And so we continue to pray to the gooey icing gods that those books have been published and forgotten, and that we can go about our Boston cream pie cupcake ways. Those maple cornmeal cupcakes with maple butter frosting, and the brown sugar cupcakes with brown butter icing (in the second chapter) actually sound pretty great, too. And here we weren't expecting a single cupcake to show up on our birthday party request list. Go Betty.
Even still, if Betty Crocker's 1936 mug shot is any indication, this woman needs a few more adjectives like “adorable” in her vocabulary. Or maybe she (we?) just needs to learn to say thank you for those “sunflower cupcake bouquets.” And to appreciate those Martha Stewart-perfect “autumn leaf” chocolate butterscotch cupcakes.
Still, we'd rather have the apple-fig bread pudding “cupcakes” with maple sauce (p. 312), a bread pudding masquerading as a cupcake in a muffin tin, than a sunflower cupcake. But then again, we never really got the whole cupcake thing to begin with.