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Book Review: 101 Gourmet Cupcakes in 10 Minutes by Wendy Paul

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My cooking expertise is very broad and my results are generally excellent. I do not, however, spend much time with desserts except for a few  heirloom recipes from my grandmothers. When I had the opportunity to review this book, I grabbed it hoping to find a few recipes worth a try. I was not disappointed. In fact, I had difficulty deciding which of the tantalizing recipes to make.

I did not want 18 of the same type, so I chose two recipes that both called for yellow cake mix, but I opened white cake mix by mistake. I exercised my culinary license and made the yellow cake recipes using white cake. I still got yummy results.

I chose Pineapple Upside Down and Orange Poppy Seed. One recipe called for three eggs and the other one only two. So I split the difference — beat three eggs and then dumped out what I imagined to be half of an egg. I added in the dry cake mix and blended it very well.  I got two bowls of dough going — one for each of the recipes — by dividing the batter in half. I followed the directions and added the additional ingredients to each bowl.

Both recipes made nine cupcakes (a total of 18). I had some of the Pineapple Upside Down batter left over, which I divided between two mini loaf pans. The pineapple and brown sugar on the bottom took up space so the batter went further. After baking, I added the maraschino cherries on top and pumped on a little whipped cream. I did not bother with icing on the Orange Poppy Seed because my advance sampling revealed they already tasted great without the extra calories.

I do not think that I could make any of the recipes in only 10 minutes, as the title claims. And for cooks with less well-stocked kitchens, many of the recipes have out of the ordinary ingredients — dark brown sugar, heavy cream, shredded coconut, poppy seeds, ginger, raspberries, and several different flavor extracts. My grocery store happened to have extracts on sale for only $2.00, so I bought four kinds for future bakes. Complete directions also are lacking for certain recipes, but common sense should carry ordinary cooks through the process.

Many cupcake names are self explanatory: Banana Split, Give Me S' More, It's a Rocky Road, Root Beer Float, and Pecan Pie. Others have holiday/special event oriented themes such as Pumpkin, Candy Cane, and Bridal Party. Next on my list to try are Banana Cream Pie, Key Lime Pie, and Angel Food Toasted Coconut. I do not have a sweet tooth,  but the gorgeous pictures made my salivary glands overwork.

Perhaps the most unique offering is Picnic Cake in a Jar. The directions call for baking in six (one pint) canning jars and this is universal for any recipe in the book. These little goodies can be made in advance and will keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. What a clever idea, maybe even for gifts.

This fun and attractive little cook book carries a wealth of dessert ideas within the skill level of even the occasional cook. You might even consider 101 Gourmet Cupcakes in 10 Minutes as a gift idea for fun, simple, and scrumptious desserts.

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