November 25, 2014

When we called our cupcake historian to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner, he regaled us with a few fun facts about pumpkin pie. We thought we’d share the five best facts. That way, we can all seem like the SMARTEST person at the dinner table.


Did you know that the pilgrims did NOT necessarily eat pumpkin pie at the first Thanksgiving? Many sources say that pumpkin pie was not introduced until the SECOND Thanksgiving in 1623 (although pumpkins were always a staple of the Native American diet). (It’s even said that Native Americans fed pumpkin to their horses.)

Did you know that the FIRST pumpkin pies were actually WHOLE BAKED PUMPKINS stuffed with assorted spices and apples? The first recipe for our kind of pumpkin pie (“pumpkin pudding baked in a crust”) doesn’t appear until the LATE 18th CENTURY (a mere 215 years ago) in a book entitled AMERICAN COOKERY by Amelia Simmons.

american cookery

Did you know 50 million pumpkins pies are baked every year?

The LARGEST PUMPKIN PIE on record was five feet around. It used 80 pounds of pumpkin and baked for six hours!

And last but not least, according to the American Pie Council, 1 out of 5 Americans has eaten an ENTIRE pumpkin pie by themselves.

Illinois, by the way, is where the most pumpkins are produced.

Okay. So that’s SIX facts. Well, Thanksgiving is always a time to OVERDO.

Have a great, warm, food-and-love-filled holiday. Thanks to all of you for your support over the years.

See you next week.

Alan and Karen


November 24, 2014

We figure: There can never be too many turkey cake ideas out there this time of year. But we wanted to do something truly unique. So we set ourselves the goal of coming up with the most REALISTIC TURKEY CAKE we could imagine.

Yes. Believe it or not, that’s a picture of a cake up there. (Photo by Andrew Purcell for PARADE magazine.)

CARAMEL is the key.

You can get the complete instructions by clicking here.

At that link, you’ll also find a fun STOP-MOTION ANIMATION that’ll show you how the entire cake comes together.

Have fun crafting this BIG BIRD—along with your other big bird!

Alan and Karen


November 21, 2014

While we’re on the subject of Thanksgiving, we wanted to give a BIG THANKS to our friend LUISA SIMONE who was so instrumental in building our new website.

Luisa has been a close friend of ours over many decades. She’s a terrific website designer and she really held our hands as we dove into the world of coding and themes and all the other technically baffling things required to build a robust website. She put in so much time and toil—and added lots of inspiration. The site would not have happened without her—literally!!

Luisa is a New York Native. But since 2008, she and her husband Bob have lived and worked in that great world of Portlandia—that is, Portland, Oregon—where they are very happy. Now, she has clients—and friends—on both coasts!

Here’s a photo of Luisa taken at one of Portland’s most celebrated cupcake emporiums SAINT CUPCAKE!! (“I can testify to the deliciousness of the cupcakes,” she says.) (You can find out more about Saint Cupcake by clicking here.)


Meanwhile, you can check out Luisa’s other website designs by clicking here.

Happy Thanksgiving, Luisa. Thanks for putting up with all our many questions and needs (which, of course, continue). We can’t wait to visit you in Portland.

Alan and Karen



November 19, 2014
Celebration Pearls-11

There are all sorts of complex Thanksgiving dessert recipes out there this time of year. But here’s just about the QUICKEST seasonally-themed dessert we could come up with for T-Day.

Let’s call them FAST FALL COOKIES!!!

Don’t blink while reading this easy recipe, or you’ll miss it.

Buy a pack of ARCHWAY GINGER cookies.

Cover them alternately with VANILLA AND CHOCOLATE FROSTING.

Then on top of  the frosting, place yellow, orange, red and brown SHIMMER-COATED SIXLETS AND PEARLS. (In some stores, you can actually find these colors in one AUTUMN-MIX package.)

Just follow the designs in the photo above. And there you are. One dessert down.

Now back to that complicated dressing.

Alan and Karen


November 18, 2014
Pull Apart Turkey-29

Turkey Day is almost here—which is one of our favorite times of year. After all, it’s a holiday that’s all about FOOD. We’ll both be hosting big gatherings of family and friends, and we’ve been putting out heads together, trying to decide just what our desserts should be. (There’s a lot of pressure when you’re the authors of HELLO, CUPCAKE!)

But meanwhile—as inspiration for you and us—we thought we’d remind you of two of our favorite Thanksgiving projects. They’re guaranteed to make your holiday company happy—and thankful!!

First up is a turkey, of course. BIG TOM—as we’ve named him—is basically a CHOCOLATE CAKE. The tail feathers are made from three flavors of candy clay: chocolate, white chocolate and caramel. The head is a cupcake frosted pale blue. You can find the completely succulent recipe on page 199 of CUPCAKES, COOKIES & PIE, OH MY!

Next, here’s a swell idea for dressing up your PUMPKIN PIE. Take a look at the photo below. It IS an honest-to-goodness pumpkin pie—not an attempt to fool your eye. But look twice at those autumn leaves—they’re actually made from pie crust!

Autumn Leaves-11

We painted them with an egg wash tinted with food coloring before baking. The rake is made from a bread stick and Fruit Roll-Ups. The tines are cut from pie crust too. The full recipe can also be found in OH MY!—on pages 191-193.

We’ll get back to you with more suggestions. But right now we’ve got some more meal planning to do. And we’ve also got some leaves to rake!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Season,

Alan and Karen


November 14, 2014
cookie cutter

Every now and then, we like to share the books that excite us—especially when it’s something that might really please our blog readers.

So we definitely wanted to pass on our enjoyment of a new book by baker Patti Paige: YOU CAN’T JUDGE A COOKIE BY ITS CUTTER.

Her basic idea is really original. Patti shows how you can make any number of playful creations out of a single cookie cutter, simply by shifting your perspective a bit. Take a look at two cookies she sent us: a bat and a moon—both made from the same cookie cutter.


Pretty ingenious, no?

Plus along the way, Patti shares her favorite cookie dough recipes, and she offers all sorts of helpful baking tips and techniques.

If you like our books, we think you’ll really enjoy Patti’s.

Happy Reading,

Alan and Karen


November 13, 2014

We were going over all our pix from this year’s SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO and we found a few delicious items we’ve been meaning to show you.

Number one is the amazing CANDY MAP that was commissioned by the National Confectioner’s Association. It was about three feet long, and on it, every state in the Union was represented by a different candy. It’s fun to pick out the states, identify the candy and figure out why that particular candy was chosen.

For example, take a look at this close-up. WISCONSIN is represented by cheddar cheese Goldfish, and NEBRASKA by candy corn. We’re still trying to identify them all! (We just realized today that TEXAS is made of Fritos,  COLORADO of Kit Kats, and CALIFORNIA of Peach Rings!)

photo (2)

The Expo wouldn’t be complete without some nod to fashion. And this year’s stand-out was this JUICY FRUIT DRESS. It’s made of actual Juicy Fruit gum—and packaging.

juicy fruit dress

Last but not least is this scrumptious TOOTSIE ROLL PURSE, complete with Tootsie Pop wrappers.

tootsie roll purse

Just add some HIGH HEEL CUPCAKES and you’re ready for a sweet night on the town!

Hope you enjoy seeing these projects as much as we did. When it comes to snacks, there’s apparently no end to creativity.

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen



November 11, 2014
bow cake

We love to develop ambitious, mind-blowing projects. But at the same time, we love projects that are FAST and EASY!!

This CHOCOLATE STICK CAKE definitely fits that bill. It’s easy to assemble, and allows you all sorts of latitude.

Start with a standard 8-inch ROUND CAKE (single or double layer is up to you).

Give the outside of the cake a nice thick coat of CHOCOLATE FROSTING. This will act as your glue.

Then take some CHOCOLATE COVERED STICKS (like Ovation sticks) and break them into irregular lengths, leaving them all higher than the sides of your cake.

Then press the sticks vertically into the sides of the cake, like the pickets of a fence. Don’t worry about the irregular lengths. (The irregularity is fun on its own, but it also keeps this project simple. You don’t have to worry about getting them all even.)

Tie a colorful ribbon around the sticks, making a pretty bow in the front (which looks good and helps hold the sticks in place).

Cover the top of the cake with COLORFUL CANDIES, right up to the edge of the sticks. We used gumballs. But feel free to use M&Ms, jelly beans or whatever you like best.

And there you have it—a perfect little package ready to take to your next party!

Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen


November 6, 2014

We think it’s about time for another HELLO CUPCAKE CLASSIC.

This week, the winner is one of our most popular projects from CUPCAKES, COOKIES & PIE, OH, MY! It’s what we call our EMOTI-POPS!!!

These pops were inspired, of course, by COMPUTER EMOTICONS. They’ve become so much a part of our language, they’re practically new words in and of themselves!

;-D means “a wink and a smile.”

< 3 means “heart.”


(For further definitions, just ask your kids.)

Here’s how you make these digital-age delights:

Take a one inch slice of POUND CAKE. Cut two 1 3/4 inch circles—with either a cookie cutter or the rim of a small glass.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Carefully insert the tines of a plastic fork into one side of the circle and then place them on the cookie sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes.

Divide 1 can (16 ounces) of VANILLA FROSTING into four microwavable bowls. Tint each bowl with different bright food coloring.

Working with one bowl at a time, microwave the frosting for about ten seconds. Take the cake pops from the freezer and dip them into the melted frosting. Refrigerate until frosting is set, about 20 minutes.

Tint some DARK CHOCOLATE FROSTING with BLACK FOOD COLORING and spoon into a Ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal. Snip a very small corner from the bag and use the black frosting for the round shapes of each emoticon (mostly the Ds and other mouth shapes).

For the straighter shapes and dots, cut one piece of BLACK LICORICE LACE into 1/8-inch, 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch pieces. Then use tweezers and a toothpick to press them into the frosting of each cake pop to make the various eyes, noses, colons, semi-colons etc.

And there you have it: something that’ll definitely speak to the <3 of every kid in the neighborhood!

For MORE DETAILS, see page 138 of OH MY.


Happy Decorating,

Alan and Karen    :-)


November 4, 2014
Flag-feature size

Right on the heels of ELECTION DAY, we suddenly got a call from our cupcake historian. Clearly he was caught up in the spirit of the day. He was anxious to tell us about the history of ELECTION CAKES.

It turns out there was a time in American history when election days were days of CELEBRATION—when a community came together to embrace that unalienable right. The earliest election cakes were enormous affairs, commissioned by local governments, and made to feed the entire voting body.

The first homemade election cakes were more like spice cakes, followed by a sourdough version. These days, what’s commonly referred to as an election cake is more of a fruitcake in a Bundt-cake shape complete with nutmeg, raisins and clove. This version is also called a HARTFORD ELECTION CAKE, which dates all the way back to 1771. (Apparently, back in 18th Century Hartford, Connecticut, if a man voted a straight party ticket, he was given some election cake.)

Many recipes for the Hartford Election Cake can be found on line. But we figure ANY CAKE made in the right spirit makes a good election cake. And we certainly love the idea of the entire community coming together over VOTING AND DESSERT!

So we offer this RED, WHITE AND BLUE CUPCAKE CAKE as a new commemoration of election day, in the hopes that it’s a good one.

Here’s the All-American recipe:

Start with the base of the cake. Use standard sized cupcakes. Cover 3/4s of them in vanilla frosting. Cover 1/4 of them in blue-tinted frosting. Arrange them into a flag-shaped rectangle.

Then add mini-cupcakes (covered in red-tinted frosting) to the top of the white cupcakes to make the stripes. And on top of those mini-cupcakes, we placed Red Hots, Hot Tamales, swedish fish, red Twizzler pieces and red jelly beans. RED is one of the most popular candy colors, so we’re sure you’ll come up with something all your own.

The same goes for the white candies that make up the stars. We used white Good & Plentys, Sixlets, white M&Ms and Baby Tears. We even used Chiclets (for a little extra chewiness). So have fun. And enjoy your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of cupcakes!!

Happy Voting,

Alan and Karen