January 26, 2015

It’s award season in Hollywood. So we’ve been rushing around trying to catch up with THE IMITATION GAME, SELMA and BIRDMAN. (We’ve already seen BOYHOOD which we loved.) Of course, all this moviegoing has us thinking of one of our Hello Cupcake Classics: one of the projects that put us on the map: MOVIE POPCORN CUPCAKES!!

BUTTERED POPCORN JELLY BELLYS are the key ingredients in this project. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise twist that the recipe can be found on the Jelly Belly website! Just click here for the recipe.

You can also find our original version of this project using MINI MARSHMALLOWS on page 28 of HELLO, CUPCAKE!

Enjoy and…

We’ll see you at the movies.

Alan and Karen


January 24, 2015

They say the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. And I guess that’s the case with me and my mom.

My mom is my idol. She is one of the smartest women and uber-talented. She is an incredible seamstress and if she was born in a different time, I think she would have been a top designer. She makes all of her own clothes (so you can imagine what it’s like to buy a present for her)!

She was a model when she was younger. In particular she modeled hats for Mr. John, a famous New York based milliner—who actually made the hats for Vivien Leigh in GONE WITH THE WIND.

I’ve seen a few photos of my mom modeling—but I haven’t thought about it for a long time…until this picture came to me via an acquaintance…at a funeral of all places.

Soon afterwards, I started searching the internet for other photos of my mom. Once I did, I found great shots of her wearing some of the craziest tacky hats. Seems like she always got the hats with all the CHACHKIES on top. Then I began to think…

Maybe that’s where I got my love of putting candy and cookies on top of our cupcakes and cakes. You know, like Alan and I always say: MORE IS MORE.

Funny thing is…I have never seen my mom wear a hat in real life.



January 22, 2015

Our neighbors have been talking about their winter doldrums. So we thought it’s time to offer the type of project that always lifts the spirit. Yep, it’s time for one of our CREATURE FEATURES!!

Critter faces are always some of our most awww-inducing projects. And we love creating them. In fact, when you consider all the animal cupcakes we’ve decorated over the years, it adds up to quite a zoo!!!

Someday, we plan on making a great big group photo of the entire menagerie. But for now, here are four furry additions to the family: A RED FOX, A RACCOON, A SQUIRREL (our dog Lucky’s favorite) and A SKUNK (Lucky’s least favorite).

We think of it as our WOODLAND QUARTET!!

All four projects use some of our most basic ingredients and techniques. For the detailed recipes, hike on over to our special Duncan Hines pages by CLICKING HERE.

Here’s to warmer days on the horizon,

Alan and Karen


January 19, 2015
crown cake

Just back from the Fancy Food Show—where we put a new spin on the KING CAKE, an old New Orleans tradition!

This regal dessert was our crowning achievement at last week’s show. The crown gets its shape from a store-bought angel food cake. (Buying it in the bakery aisle at the grocery store, like we did, isn’t lazy. It’s GENIOSITY!)

Here’s the recipe:

Start with a cake baked in a traditionally shaped angel food pan and position it on a work surface, small side down (so it has a crown shape). Give the cake a crumb coat of yellow-tinted frosting. (That’s a thin coating to hold in the crumbs, a technique you’ll learn more about in our new book Cake My Day! —coming SOON, March 24.)

Then place the cake in the freezer for about 30 minutes to chill.

Once chilled, cover the entire cake with yellow frosting, using the frosting to fill any gaps or cracks, and smooth. Return to the freezer to chill for another 15 minutes (just to firm up the frosting so it is easier to decorate).

Using 20 Golden Oreo sandwich cookies, hold the two cookie sides and twist to separate into 40 individual cookies. Scrape the frosting from the separated cookies using a small knife or offset spatula.

Press 10 of the cookies into the frosting near the top edge, evenly spaced, around the crown.

Using a serrated knife, trim 1/4 inch from one side of the 10 remaining cookies.

Position the trimmed cookies, cut side down, upright, all around the top edge of the crown, in between and above the whole cookies.

Fill the center hole of the cake with candies up to about 1 inch from the top. (We used yellow Sixlets.) Place a mini-cupcake in the center of the cake, sitting it in the 1 inch opening on top of the Sixlets. (To keep things easy, we used a store bought mini cupcake.)

Frost the top of the cupcake with vanilla frosting (unless it is pre-frosted like ours). Using frosting to secure, surround the base of the cupcake with two rows of white pearlized Sixlets. Add a large red gumball to the top of the cupcake. Surround it with a ring of yellow Baby Tears, and top the gumball with a white pearlized Sixlet.

Scatter yellow Sixlets across the top of the cake to cover.

Again using frosting to secure, add a red Pearl to the top of the 10 upright cookies and 2 white Sixlets at the base of each cookie.

Finish the cake with a ring of white pearlized gumballs around the base.

Voila!! A cake fit for a king—and for Mardi Gras (which is only a few weeks away).

As they say in New Orleans: Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

Happy Cake-making,

King Alan and Queen Karen


January 13, 2015

Here’s a closer look at some of the projects we created during the FANCY FOOD show.

Because we were manning the Sweetworks booth, most of these projects were done fairly simply, using various Sweetworks candies and frosting. It’s FUN to see how much you can accomplish with just a handful of Pearls, Sixlets and Gumballs.

man dog

We cheated a bit when we needed to, adding Twinkies and Twizzlers to the mix. (Any Hello Cupcake fan should be able to spot them.)

frog face

Plus we re-created some of our classics—like this marshmallow covered sheep—who seems to have jumped right off the pages of OH MY!

oh my cover

More to come.

Stay tuned,

Alan and Karen


January 12, 2015

BLUEBERRY PRETZELS! BROCCOLI CHIPS! BUTTERSCOTCH PEANUT BUTTER! These are only some of the amazing items we’ve seen at the 40th Winter Fancy Food Show!!!

We are having a GREAT TIME here at San Francisco’s Moscone Center! This is the largest Winter Fancy Food Show ever assembled.

There are hundreds of chefs, bakers and food entrepreneurs from around the world, covering 215,000 square feet of exhibition space! Cheeses, sauces, chocolates, jellies, candies, gelatos, pastas, taffies, olives, edamames, salamis, pho and fruity poppers fill the huge hall, end to end.

So many vendors, so little time!!

sylvia dandrea deming nm

Of course, we’re not only here to look and eat. We’re also manning our own booth, in association with Sweetworks. And we’ve been crazy busy meeting our fantastic fans, like Sylvia Dandrea (above). Sylvia owns a bakery in Deming, New Mexico—and she was so nice to say that our books have inspired her. Fans like Sylvia inspire US too!

We’re also busy coming up with new cake and cupcake concoctions right on the spot. (We are definitely multi-tasking the day away!) Each hour our bakery case grows and grows. Here’s how it looked yesterday at about 3 PM Pacific Time (with lots more planned for today).


In our next blog entry, we’ll take a CLOSER LOOK AT THE NEW PROJECTS we’ve been concocting at the show. Meanwhile, we’d better get back to work. We’ve got a lot more meeting and greeting (and EATING) to do.

fancy floor

See you soon,

Alan and Karen


January 7, 2015

It’s time for another FANCY FOOD SHOW. And this time, luckily for us, it’s being held in one of our favorite places: THE BAY AREA!!

So we’re busy packing our bags—shirts, shoes, baking utensils, cupcake holders, etc. And we’ll be reporting right from the show on our blog. So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s a terrific time lapse video of San Francisco, courtesy of Time Out and Vimeo. It captures that lovely city so well. It was put together by Jeremy Williams—from 30,000 images!

Simply click here.

Happy Cupcaking,

Alan and Karen


January 5, 2015
shield cake

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No—it’s our SUPERHERO SHIELD CAKE!!

This unbeatable project is perfect for the heroes in your home. And best of all, it doesn’t take super-powers to make it. Basically, all you need is THE POWER TO ROLL OUT SPICE DROPS!!

Here’s the whole story:

Take a 16 OUNCE BOX OF CAKE MIX and prepare according to package directions. Pour the batter into greased 9″x 13″ pan lined with wax paper and smooth with spatula. Bake until firm. Cool and invert.

To make the letter detail, press 20 RED SPICE DROPS together. Sprinkle a clean work surface with RED DECORATING SUGAR and roll out the candies to a 4 1/2″x 5″ rectangle, adding more red sugar to prevent sticking. Make a template of your child’s initial with cardstock; place it on top of rolled candy. Cut out letter with a paring knife; reserve scraps.

To make the red shield border, unroll SOME RED FRUIT LEATHER and press two strips together to make it doubly thick. Roll one side of the strip in red sugar to coat. Cut into two 11″ strips, two 4″ strips and one 9″ strip. Cut the scraps into six 1/2″ triangles

To make the blue circle, press 28 WHITE SPICE DROPS together. Sprinkle a clean work surface with BLUE DECORATING SUGAR. Roll candies to a roughly 6 1/2″ circle, adding sugar to prevent sticking. Trim circle with a paring knife.

To make the yellow bolts, press 12 YELLOW SPACE DROPS together. Sprinkle a clean work surface with YELLOW DECORATING SUGAR and roll out candies to a 3″x 4″ rectangle, adding more yellow sugar to prevent sticking. Cut out bolts with a paring knife.

Place cake on work surface, leveling the top with a serrated knife. Transfer cake, flat side down, to a serving platter. Remove a triangular piece from each corner of the cake and position pieces at the bottom to create the pointed end of the shield shape, using the photo as guide.

Spread thin layer of VANILLA FROSTING over cake. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.

Spread remaining frosting over the cake. Place blue candy circle in the center. Arrange red strips along edge of cake, trimming ends with scissors when necessary. Add yellow candies around blue circle. Place red letter and small red triangles in center of blue circle and yellow bolts on either side of letter.

And there you have it: One cake so mighty, it simply can’t be beat.

Thanks to Tara Donne for the terrific photo.

You can find also find this recipe at its PARENTS page by clicking here.

To infinity and beyond,

Alan and Karen


January 1, 2015
Karen and Alan Cake Heads-small

Here’s to the Happiest New Year for all!!!

For us, it’ll mean a NEW BOOK and lots of NEW ADVENTURES!! We can’t wait!

And thanks to Jorge Madrigal for the great photo!!!

Much love and warm wishes,

Alan and Karen


December 29, 2014
Champagne glasses-blog1

Here’s a special CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE to bring in the NEW YEAR!!

We call it our Bubbly Champagne Cake—not that there’s any real champagne in it. There ARE fluted glasses made from snack cakes and cookies coated in chocolate, overflowing with shimmering Sixlets, gumballs, and Pearls.

For the complete recipe, read on:


Vegetable cooking spray

Two 9-inch round cakes, made from devil’s food cake mix

2 cans (16 ounces) vanilla frosting

14 vanilla créme-filled snack cakes (Twinkies)

1 bag (12 ounces) yellow candy melting wafers (Wilton)

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons white nonpareils (Wilton)

1/2 cup white pearlized small candies (Pearls)

1 bag (12 ounces) white candy melting wafers (Wilton)

14 rolled wafer cookies (Pirouettes)

7 Vanilla Wafers

Blue neon food coloring (McCormick NEON)

3/4 cup white pearlized round candy-coated chocolates (Sixlets)

1/2 cup white pearlized mini gum balls (SweetWorks)


  1. Using a knife long enough to go all the way through the 9-inch round cakes, slice each in half horizontally to make a total of four layers. Place one cake on a 9-inch cake round and using the first can of vanilla frosting, spread a layer of frosting over the top of the cake. Add a second layer, taking care to keep the layers level, and spread a layer of frosting on the top. Continue with the next two layers to make four layers. Give the top and sides of the cake a crumb coat of vanilla frosting and place the cake in the refrigerator to chill. Spoon the remaining vanilla frosting from the can into a ziplock bag (take care that there are no chocolate crumbs in the frosting). Press out the excess air and seal the bag
  2. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Spray a wire rack with vegetable cooking spray and place on top of the lined baking sheet. Place a snack cake flat side down on a work surface. Cut a ¾-inch piece crosswise from one short end and discard. Transfer to the wire rack, flat side down. Repeat with the remaining snack cakes. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer to chill, about 30 minutes.
  3. Place the yellow candy melting wafers in a microwave-safe bowl with the vegetable shortening. Microwave, stirring every 10 seconds, until smooth. Spoon the melted candy over the tops of the chilled snack cakes to cover completely, allowing the excess candy to drip onto the wax paper. Sprinkle the bottom of each snack cake with a few of the white nonpareils and pearls while the yellow candy is still wet to look like a line of fizz rising from the bottom (see photo). Refrigerate the coated snack cakes until set, about 5 minutes. Gently remove the snack cakes from the wire rack, trimming any excess candy drips from the edges, and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Cut the pirouette cookies in half crosswise, to make pieces about 2 inches in length. Cut the vanilla wafers in half, crosswise.
  5. Place the white candy melting wafers in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, stirring every 5 seconds, until smooth. Dip the trimmed end of a coated snack cake 1/2 inch into the white candy melts to create the lip of the champagne glass. Allow the excess candy to drip back into the bowl. Return the snack cake to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining snack cakes. Dip each of the pirouette cookies, and halved vanilla wafers in the melted candy, and place them on the wax paper lined baking sheet. Place the coated pieces on the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill.
  6. Tint the remaining can of vanilla frosting light blue using the neon blue food coloring. Transfer the chilled cake to a serving platter. Spread a thick layer of blue frosting all over the cake and smooth use a large frosting spreader. To make the bases for the glasses, place the candy-coated vanilla cookie halves at the base of the cake, cut side against the cake, on the serving platter, about 1/2 inch apart. For the stems, press a pirouette cookie into the frosting above each vanilla wafer, coated side facing out. Attach a snack cake, white end up and flat back side against the cake, at the top of each cookie stem, pressing into the frosting to secure. Return the cake to the refrigerator to chill, about 20 minutes.
  7. Once the cake is chilled, snip a small (1/8-inch) corner from the bag with the white frosting. Pipe some of the vanilla frosting on top of the snack cake champagne glasses, adding some frosting down the sides of the snack cakes to look like overflow. Press some of the white candy-coated chocolates, the small candy pearls, and the mini gum balls into the frosting on top of the test tubes to look like bubbles. Press a few small candy pearls and nonpareils into the drips of frosting on the sides of the glasses and sprinkle a few at the base of each glass.. Sprinkle the remaining gum balls, candy-coated chocolates, and small candy pearls on top of the cake to cover, using any remaining white frosting in the bag, to secure. Add white candles and serve.

Makes 24 servings

champagne glasses-blog 2

Here’s to health, happiness and lots of GREAT NEW DESSERTS in 2015,

Alan and Karen