If you’re confident in your ability to make a good batch of cupcakes or cookies and—whether it’s for a party, a holiday, or your own pleasure—you’re looking to spice up the taste and presentation a bit. Here are a few easy things you can try out without a culinary school degree:
This can work for any type of baked goods that are big enough, but cakes and cupcakes are the most popular choice. For cupcakes, simply cut off the top and carve out a hole in the bottom part. Fill the empty space with the filling of your choice—preserves, frosting, pie filling, or anything else you think might taste good (and that won’t run all over the place when someone bites into it)—and put the top back on. You can then add frosting and decorations as usual in order to make an even more extravagant treat.
For cakes, simply bake two or more layers. Put a ring of stiff frosting around the rim of the base layer to act as both glue and dam, to keep the filling inside and the cake held together. Afterwards, simply pour or spread the filling within the ring (don’t try to add too much, or else it will push through the frosting and squeeze out the edges when you place the next layer on top). If you have a really stiff filling—say you have a lot of that frosting and, like me, you believe no cake has ever had too much frosting—you can get sinfully hedonistic. Turn the upper layer of the cake upside down, carve out a shallow hollow in the bottom, and fill that with more frosting before placing it on top of the prepared bottom layer. Remember to be careful when transferring a slice from cake to plate!
This is a great choice for a creative presentation. After placing cookie batter on a baking sheet, insert a popsicle stick into the side of each cookie (note that this will take up a lot of extra space on the sheet, so you won’t be able to bake as much in a given batch). When they’re finished, you’ll be able to lift them on their sticks, allowing you to make unique three-dimensional arrangements with your cookies.
You can do almost anything with these, especially with the addition of frosting and toppings. Turn them into flowers to make an edible bouquet; make multicolored pinwheels; bake them in seasonal shapes to make a dramatic stand-up holiday display. Any of these can make excellent table décor, or you can give away small batches as party favors.
This is great idea for bars and brownies. It works best with chocolate or chocolate-like substances; simply melt down some semisweet chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch chips, or anything along those lines in a double boiler. (If you don’t have a double boiler, you can simulate one with two saucepans. Boil water in a large saucepan. Place the ingredient you want to melt in a smaller saucepan, and then float the small saucepan in the boiling water. This will melt the ingredient without the risk of burning it). Next, spear small bars or brownies with a skewer and then dip them in the coating. Place them on parchment paper, remove the skewers and allow them to cool for about half an hour. When the dip has set, you’ll have an unbeatable treat!