November 19, 2006

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

When my sister and I were kids our mom used to make us ice cream cone cupcakes. These are my grown-up version.

The basic technique of the ice cream cone cupcake hasn't changed since Mom made them for us thirty years ago. Any cake recipe works fine. I used my favorite chocolate recipe. Set up the cake cones (the kind with the flat bottom) on a baking sheet and carefully spoon in the batter, filling each one about three quarters full. I was not as careful as I should have been and wound up with some drips down the sides. On the plus side, the drips get dark when the cupcakes bake and make it look like the ice cream is melting and dripping down the side of the cone.

Ideally, once baked, the cupcakes will wind up with the cake doming up nicely above the lip of the cone. Once they're cool, they're ready to frost. Of course, they're fun and delicious any way you decorate them. I wanted to try to make mine look like real ice cream cones.

I mixed up a batch of buttercream frosting, half vanilla and half chocolate. Then I got a big piping bag with an extra large star decorating tip in it, to imitate the shape of ice cream that comes out of a soft serve dispenser. To mimic the pattern of vanilla and chocolate that you get on a soft serve swirl cone, I filled one side of the piping bag with the vanilla frosting and the other side with the chocolate. When I piped the frosting onto the cupcakes in a spiral, starting at the outside edge of the cone and moving inwards and upwards, it created something pretty similar to the classic swirl cone design.

To make them look even more like real ice cream cones (and because jimmies are good in that take-you-back-to-childhood kind of way) I added some chocolate jimmies on top. I also made maraschino cherries for the top by rolling out balls of pink marzipan, sticking in a premade royal icing stem and coating the whole thing with bright red piping gel. I suppose that I could have used real maraschino cherries, but I was concerned that they would be wet enough to dissolve the frosting. Plus I think marzipan tastes better than real maraschino cherries.

I was very pleased with how my ice cream cone cupcakes looked, but they did suffer from the classic flaw of all ice cream cone cupcakes - you have to eat the top first, so by the time you get to the bottom of the cone, there's no frosting left. I recall having this issue in my childhood as well. In this case, the contrast was exacerbated by the fact that the tops of the cupcakes had almost too much frosting because I had piped it on quite thickly in order to get the swirl cone aesthetic.

If I were to create these again, I would therefore make sure to fill the cupcakes inside the cone either with some kind of frosting or with some other custard or cream filling. I would think I could accomplish this just by jamming a decorating bag with a nice big round tip deep into the cones once they're cool, and squeezing. At least that looked like what they did when they filled their cupcakes on the Food Network Cupcake Challenge.

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