Easy Cupcake Decorations – No Equipment Necessary

Whether or not you are pressed for time, cupcakes with plain frosting sometimes aren’t enough. When you want to create cupcakes with style, texture, visual interest and memorable flavors, here are a few cupcake decorating ideas that are quick, easy and have great edible appeal.

1. Confetti decorations add a lively look and texture to your cupcakes. You can stick with traditional rainbow or chocolate sprinkles (aka “jimmies”) but you’ll find a growing variety of tiny, adorable confetti shapes to choose from. While it is sometimes tempting to coat the entire top of the cupcake in confetti, a nice option is to cover only the sides of the frosting, allowing the beautiful frosting color to contrast on top.

2. Edible cupcake toppers – Try candies such as a peanut butter cup or miniature chocolate bar on top of a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting. How about a chocolate-chip cookie garnishing your chocolate-chip cupcake with vanilla frosting? Try a few chocolate-covered coffee beans on your mocha-frosted chocolate cupcake. Branch out! Non-pareils, candied fruits, m&m’s or a single maraschino cherry make for perfect edible cupcake decorations. For a more sophisticated look, edible flower blossoms require nothing but placement on top of the cupcake. Nasturtium blossoms, rose petals, thyme flowers, and violet blossoms all blend well with sweet cupcake flavors.

3. Candles – A more unusual option is miniature candles that are expressly designed to sit on top of a frosted cupcake. You’ll find traditional birthday theme candles, and others that are just plain festive, with stripes and stars that make each cupcake look incredibly special and unique. These candles are usually no more than 1-inch in diameter and 2 inches high, and far more interesting than traditional birthday candles. They typically do not require a candle holder, but they do provide a more finished look.

4. Cupcake Liners – Available in mini or regular cupcake size, cupcake liners add pizzazz while tying in your party’s theme. Cupcake liners come in sets of 50-100 and sometimes include coordinating decorative toothpicks to insert into the frosted cupcake as well. They are available in every theme imaginable including Dora the Explorer, pirates, and solid colors and patterns. Silver or gold foil liners are often used for more formal occasions such as weddings.

For any occasion, try these simple-yet-satisfying ideas for cupcakes that make for both a decadent dessert and tasteful decor.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2681156

Cupcake Decorations For Grownups

Cupcakes make great party fare and can be designed to appeal to both young and old. While cupcake decorations for grownups may look just as pretty and appealing to kids the addition of alcohol or certain flavors will mean they aren’t quite so tempting to them after all. So put on your thinking cap for your next adult party and make something decadent for your guests.

Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Recipes are not included as this is more about decorating your cupcakes but I’m sure you’ll have your own favorite recipes that can be adapted.

Pina Colada cupcake decorations are particularly easy. Add coconut rum and pineapple juice — perhaps even crushed pineapple — to the cake mix and flavor the glace icing with pineapple juice and a little of the coconut rum. If you prefer, use a frosting. Decorate your cupcakes with a cocktail umbrella pierced through a piece of glace pineapple and a glace cherry. Maraschino cherries with a little of the stem still on will be very attractive alternative.

Irish coffee normally has Irish whisky but you could substitute the whisky for coffee and Irish Cream in your cupcakes. Decorate with frosting made with Irish Cream flavoring. Pipe the frosting on the top of your cupcake and dust with a little cinnamon to look like a cup of coffee. Place a coffee bean on the top. If you have any coffee cups or mugs that your cupcake would fit into this would be a particularly nice touch. This decoration idea would be good for many coffee cupcakes. Other flavor ideas are: Caribbean coffee with rum, French coffee with brandy, Mexican with Kahula.

What about savory cupcakes? Many would recoil in horror that the sweet little cupcake may now have savory items added to it. But think of muffins — they are not unlike cupcakes except for the texture. Savory cupcakes could be decorated with cream cheese instead of sweet frosting, topped with bits of bacon, tomato, dusted with paprika. Savory cupcakes could be your starter while the sweet cupcake is a fitting finish to your meal.

Whatever takes your fancy, I hope that this article both sweet and savory has helped to bring some ideas on cupcake decoration to your table to make your next grownup party something special.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1721876

Know A Bit About The History Of Cupcakes

While not a single person is truly sure where cupcakes hailed from, it is believed that they made a presence in the United States at some point in the 19th Century. Known as the Fairy Cakes in the United Kingdom, these cakes altered how cake was made and mothers all over the world slowly started to prefer this cake over the others. Preceding the acquaintance of the cupcake with the kitchens of America, cakes were made by weighing the ingredients. Cupcakes were made by measuring the parts to many people’s surprise. It has been suggested that this is maybe where the expression “cup cake” began, since everything was measured in mugs. Different variations of the name have additionally been offered, for example in reality they are heated in a glass yet around then, cupcakes were additionally called “number cakes”. This name began from the formula, whereby it needed “…once glass flour, two containers sugar, three containers flour, four eggs…” around then, formulas required cupcakes to be “…baked into small tins.”
Until the turn of the 20th century, cupcake skillet were essentially unheard of driving cooks to utilize more imposing measures for baking, unless they needed to prepare their little cakes into piece shape. Utilizing hearth stoves, which required more drawn out cooking times for bigger cakes, initiated dough punchers to look for different courses to prepare their cake and still have room time-wise to eat it. With the popularization of the cupcake recipes, not just were the cooks equipped to use shorter cooking times, they were additionally ready to change the way they baked cakes once the preparing part was done. No more did the dough punchers need to make bigger, heavier cakes. With the handling of the cupcakes, individuals could slake their yearning for something affordable and sweet.
It was not until 1919 that the immensely popular chocolate chip cupcakes were introduced by the Hostess Chocolate Cupcake. The rich, velvety filling and chocolate icing was a favorite of the purchasers. Carefully heated into a solitary serving, these cakes gave a fast nibble and allowed individuals to snack on them whenever they wished. Likewise, they were amazingly tasty and yet their modest size permitted them to be eaten abundantly.
Cupcakes are currently easily available in market, premade and priced. The baking walkway is loaded with a great mixture of cupcake papers, starting with paper flimsy and advancing to a firm, adjusted edge made of cardboard. In recent years the cupcake recipes have become so popular that pastry shops are trying to come with new varieties to keep the taste buds of their customers satisfied. As a result, different kinds of cupcakes are available today. Some of the recipes of these cakes are so easy that they can be conveniently tried at home. Kids love these cakes and thus, these cakes are often a �must have’ item at children’s parties.
Eating a cupcake can make you feel adolescent again and with the mixture of flavors and frostings that have come up through the decades, there is not any greed, sweet tooth or craving that can’t be satisfied with it.

Wedding Cakes – What’s All The Cupcake About?

Cupcakes – soft, sweet morsels of sponge cake, baked in individual paper cases, piled high with icing and decorated in a million and one different ways. These cute little cakes have become a fabulous alternative to a traditional wedding cake recently. Why?

More Bang for your Buck
If you are planning on having a cupcake for each guest, an effective way to display them is on multi-tiered stand. The most popular type being acrylic round tiers separated by slim pillars – they are almost invisible in the overall effect, so that the full impact of the cupcakes can be appreciated.

Depending on the look you are trying to achieve, acrylic stands come in a variety of shapes and finishes (even cerise pink!) and are scalable – carrying up to 150 cakes – enough to cater for most weddings.

When comparing price per portion, a cupcake tower fares well against a tiered cake. But, whereas a cupcake tower serving 150 would be over a metre and a half tall, a traditional wedding cake serving the same amount of people might only be a third of the size, so with a cupcake tower you normally achieve a much larger arrangement for your money.

Variety is the Spice of Life
Cupcakes can be baked, topped, decorated and dressed in many different ways, so the style of the finished product is almost limitless, giving them the ability to tie in with any wedding theme.

Cupcake cases are a major way to introduce colour into your cake arrangement. More traditionally cases would be made of clear greaseproof paper with silver and gold foil versions lending themselves to wedding celebrations. They are now increasingly available in a myriad of pastel and bold colours and you can find “designer” cases with intricate flower, filigree and butterfly designs and classic versions with spots and stripes.

Cupcakes can be finished with buttercream, flat discs or domes of sugarpaste (the stuff you find on traditional cakes), sugar icing (like your Gran used to make) or even a combination of toppings.

If made traditionally, buttercream is naturally ivory in colour, but can be tinted to suit your scheme. It can be loaded onto your cupcakes in various ways: using a palette knife for a retro, cakeshop feel, in large elegant swirls, piped smooth like toothpaste and rose-effect or tall “Mr Whippy” style swirls.

Most good cupcake makers will make your cupcake decorations by hand, and will take inspiration from different elements of your day. For very simple cakes you can opt for sprinkles, which are available in an ever increasing array of colours and shapes. If you want to add a subtle shimmer or a touch of bling try edible glitters. You can then add simple icing shapes, personalised plaques, sugar flowers, butterflies… the list goes on!

Typically the more intricate the decoration on your cupcake, the more time it will take to make and the more it will cost. You can help keep your cake costs to a minimum, by choosing only a proportion of your cupcakes with very elaborate design and placing these on the outside or more visible parts of the display, saving simpler cupcakes for the middle of your display.

You can add to your look further by encasing your cupcakes in delicate wrappers. The most popular designs are laser cut and give a lace effect outer to your cupcake and come in several patterns and pastels shades. If you anticipate that your guests will want to take their treat home with them, you can even present the cupcakes on the stand in clear boxes tied with ribbons and sprigs of flowers or heather.

Choosing cupcakes of a single design creates a display more in keeping with a modern themed day, whereas having a selection of cases, colours and decoration creates a cake arrangement with an informal or vintage feel – especially if you add some vintage crockery, lace and pearls.

You CAN Please All Of The People
If you are having lots of individual cakes, whose to say you can’t have them in a variety of flavours? This way you are sure to tempt the taste buds of even the pickiest guest. You can even look after individuals with food allergies with a special cupcake just for them!

To help guests identify their favourite, you can work into the display some cupcakes decorated with little flags announcing their flavours – this makes them all the more tempting!

Take your cupcake tower further by incorporating mini cupcakes (perfect for the smaller appetite and children) or turning your tower into a full on dessert table, adding in pretty cake stands ladened with cake pops, biscuits and desert “shots”. All colour and style co-ordinating, this will create an amazing display that will be making the most of your money and will satisfy everyone to boot.

Let them Eat Cake
You don’t need caterers trained in surgery to cut up cupcakes (or pay a fee for them to do it!) and if you are having a relaxed affair, guests can simply help themselves from the display.

But whereas guests will gladly nibble at a piece of wedding cake that is placed directly in front of them, they may be more reticent to take a cupcake from a beautiful display. To avoid leftovers, make sure your display is placed in an accessible spot, make an announcement asking guests to take a cake or even add little “Alice in Wonderland” signs to the odd cupcake saying “Eat Me”.

Timing is also important in making sure all your cupcakes get eaten – think about at what point during your day (or evening) your guests will have enough appetite or be in the mood for a cake.

Finally, some guests might cringe at the idea of eating a cake as they would a canapé whilst dressed in their finery, so you might want to provide an artful stack of side plates on your cake table. And if these were pre-owned china pieces, it would add to any vintage theme that you have going on – gorgeous!

Whether you choose a traditional cake, cupcakes or a combination of treats for your wedding cake table, make sure that you enjoy!

Mugg & Bean’s Cupcakes of Hope raises R550,000

The Mugg & Bean’s Cupcakes of Hope campaign raised in excess of R550,000 to help change and save lives for children affected by cancer and their families. In September 2016, the campaign brought over 41,000 South Africans together in support of those affected by cancer.
Mugg & Bean’s Cupcakes of Hope raises R550,000In addition to bringing together a community of supporters, the company also introduced a lemon meringue cupcake to its menu for September, which offered consumers a simple way to help change and save lives, with all proceeds generated from the cupcake sales being donated to Cupcakes of Hope.

To raise awareness for the early detection signs of childhood cancers, Mugg & Bean further constructed the Wall of Generosity on 24 September 2016, Childhood Cancer Awareness Day and 25 September at Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria.

Visitors to the wall received a complimentary cupcake from the wall and were asked to write down the name of their ‘cancer hero’, someone they know who has or is still battling with cancer, on their hand and then pose for a picture holding up the cupcake with the other so as to ignite a conversation.

Through the interactive donation box at the Wall of Generosity, R24,487 was raised, which contributed to the R550,000 generated for the initiative over the past month, surpassing the 2015 donation of R100,000 within the first week.

“It has been humbling to see everyone coming together in support to spread hope,” said Lee-Ann Cullingworth, marketing executive for Mugg & Bean.

BeyondRetail 2016: Lessons from SA’s oldest e-commerce company

Netflorist MD Ryan Bacher entertained #BeyondRetail2016 attendees with two of the business hacks that played a role in how they entered the e-commerce realm back in 1999 and how they shifted from being ‘internet guys’ to real-world retailers.
On Thursday, 13 October 2016, Beyond Retail 2016 took place at The Bay Hotel rotunda in Camps Bay, hosted by UCS Solutions and Business Connexion. The third speaker of the day was Ryan Bacher, CEO of Netflorist, with Jessica Knight, CEO of UCS Solutions calling this business case study: “Proof that relentless passion and curiosity can take you far.” Bacher then gave their back story, explaining that they started just a month after Kalahari kicked off (which merged with Takealot in 2015, leaving Netflorist as the oldest) and purely as an experiment.

See, Bacher was still working at internet service provider NetActive at the time and ran Netflorist as “an also business” with partners Lawrence Brick and Jonathan Hackner for the first year or so, as a Nineties version of the lean startup model that has since flourished everywhere. They simply started the site to prove they could get brands online. “Nobody knew anything about e-commerce in SA in 1999,” says Bacher, adding that they chose to sell flowers for no other reason than it was January at the time, and Valentine’s Day was around the corner.

#BeyondRetail 2016: Lessons from SA’s oldest e-commerce company
© Claudio Ventrella – 123RF.com

So they built a website and sent an email on to NetActive’s 40,000-odd subscribers. This resulted in a few laughs from the audience, as Bacher pointed out this would nowadays be seen as unsolicited business communication or spam, but back then there was nothing more exciting than receiving an email.

Then the orders started rolling in – without any flowers to deliver. So they contacted a florist based in Sandton and sent on the order details for them to deliver. As obvious as it may seem, online e-commerce involves physically delivering and housing what you’re selling digitally. Bacher says this was a real Aha moment for the team, as they realised they were no longer “just internet guys”, now they were retailers. He says retailers in 2016 are struggling with this in reverse, as you have to do your marketing online to attract real-life footfall.

Two early e-commerce business hacks

Building on the fact that e-commerce was unchartered waters at the time, Bacher said: “If you want a search box, you must have a database to link the results to” – they wanted the search box but didn’t have the database. To get around this, they simply hyperlinked the ‘go’ search button to their overall product page, so you’d see their full dozen floral arrangement offerings no matter what you were actually searching for. That’s the first hack.

The second business hack Bacher shared is just as clever: There were no secure electronic credit card payment systems online yet, crucial for processing online orders. As ubiquitous as it now seems today, this was long before the MasterPass online checkout payment solution was even a twinkle on the digital horizon. To get around this, they made the last page of the Netflorist website a ‘credit card details’ form, with an egg timer icon that showed for eight seconds then thanked consumers for the transaction. These details were then saved and manually punched into a credit card machine later. Impressively, Netflorist had R30,000 in sales for Valentine’s Day – the same turnover as sales from physical florists, and all based on a website that was built in a week to prove it could be done. Business boomed from there, with further lessons learned along the way. Key among them? South Africans are happy to buy online. But what do we really know about them?

Moving on to discuss what’s coming to the physical world from the online retail space, Bacher said we can’t deny the importance of proper data analysis. The biggest statistic for e-commerce business to consider is the conversation rate. He admitted that Netflorist’s is just 14%, which makes him ask ‘what about the other 86% of people who visit the site’? Their bounce rate is also relatively high at 31% so Bacher says there’s an engagement issue, although this is lower than the industry benchmark, but it’s still a concern. He mentioned that AB testing is also critical for price setters.

Pummelling the price-setting problem

To illustrate this Bacher shared that they’ve started up a physical bakery in some of their warehouses, creating delectable cupcakes in a jar. As this was a price setter in SA with no predecessor to compare to, Bacher faced the challenge with Google Analytics, setting it at three original prices R100 apart and seeing what percentage would buy at which price. Bacher says they do this for all non-commodity products on site – which is basically “everything but red roses”. It’s an accurate way of assuring yourself customers are interested in the product and that you’re neither over- nor under-charging for it.

Bacher then spoke of the differences between SA and Silicon Valley. Admitting it’s perhaps an unfair comparison, he said SA is still all about the hardware while in Silicon Valley there’s been a shift towards software. He explains: “No one there cares about e-commerce, it’s rather servicing e-commerce.” There’s also a difference between business goals (SA) and purpose (Silicon Valley), as well as focus on instant profit here as opposed to growth there and getting the product or service to as many people as soon as possible. Lastly, he spoke of just how fast technology is changing our world. Think about the way the evolution of the mobile phone makes physical products dematerialise – when last did you use a physical camera, torch or calculator as opposed to the feature on your phone?

In closing, Bacher pointed out that e-commerce makes up just 1% of overall retail in South Africa but the number itself is irrelevant as it’s up to 70% when you look at flower sales. When it comes to industry disruptors, note that almost 30% of all music bought in SA is online, with Uber attracting 70% of all upper LSM taxi transactions. “It’s nothing to do with the size of the business, it’s about the category you’re in.”

Lightstone Explore launches Kaleidoscope

Lightstone Explore has officially launched Kaleidoscope, a geodemographic segmentation tool. Kaleidoscope aims to aid marketers and customer relationship managers in better understanding their customer base, and in identifying where to find more customers of the right target market for their products and services.
Lightstone Explore launches KaleidoscopeLinda Reid, chief commercial officer at Lightstone Explore, notes that with LE providing spatially-focused business intelligence solutions, Kaleidoscope was a natural and incredibly valuable progression (in terms of service offering) and a great addition to the LE family.

“What makes Kaleidoscope, as a tool, particularly powerful is the fact that it sits within the Lightstone Group, meaning that it is able to draw on the many proprietary datasets (demographics, property, auto, retail, business) from the various brands under the Lightstone banner, to categorise the population into 19 relevant segments, and use the datasets to describe each segment. At a very granular geographic level (Enumerator Area – of which there are over 100,000 in the country) we have identified the predominant type of person living in each area, along with their characteristics,” says Reid.

Segmented by food

One particularly interesting element of Kaleidoscope is the name of the various segment groupings – which all have connotations to food, particularly within a South African context.

“We wanted to capture the essence of each segment in a way that would help create an association for the user between the type of person that occupies each segment and the name of the segment. In South Africa, we have a very disparate population, polarised by wealth and colour, which we didn’t want to make a feature of the segment names. Food, however, is a theme that we found has a good association with people across segments,” says Reid.

Sunday Roasts: Wealthy metro estate housing that consists mainly of older houses on large stands. The younger generation live in properties with an average value of R2.6m that are mainly new houses, whilst the older generation (over 60 and includes retirement estates) live in expensive properties with an average value of R3.1m. Population consists mainly of white Afrikaans speaking and black people, with the majority of children under the age of five.

The “Oysters & Champagne” grouping classifies super wealthy urban areas with large houses that are often new or consist of older houses that are being modernised. “Cupcakes & Cocktails” areas typically contain young families with children under the age of five, with most adults having a degree. “Magwinya & Zamalek” classifies a metro area that consists of some formal housing but mostly informal housing consisting of shacks, and typically black or coloured people of a younger average age. And so the segment grouping names go.

Segmentation models

LE’s customer segmentation models are sometimes built to size the market, to guide merchandising decisions, and to contribute to decisions about store location. Pure internal customer segmentation (sometimes done specifically for certain clients), must result in a rich understanding of a customer base, in a way that allows a brand and company to create and execute on their customer strategies. The results are used to identify potential new customers; more specifically advertise / appeal to specific segments within a base; build targeted pricing models; and so on.

One of the more valuable components of Kaleidoscope is the fact that it provides information and findings at an Enumerator Area level (whereas competitors provide information on a much less granular level.)

Enumerator Areas

“To illustrate the difference, there are about 9,000 suburbs in the country, but over 100,000 Enumerator Areas. This is significant because you can get very disparate segments of people living in a suburb. Picture, for example, Bryanston in Johannesburg, or Rondebosch in Cape Town. Both areas cover sub-areas that contain very different types of people – eg. in Rondebosch, the area next to the railway tracks is very different in nature to the area next to the common. If you treat people from the whole area as the same, your targeting will be inefficient, and you will draw the wrong conclusions from assessing your customers that live in that area. Taking it down to a much more granular area base creates the ability to be a lot more accurate and focused in your marketing and customer relationship management activities,” Reid adds.

Why ‘Kaleidoscope’?

If you’re wondering why the name “Kaleidoscope”? Reid elaborates: “A kaleidoscope is an optical child’s toy, usually a cylinder with mirrors that contains loose coloured objects like beads and bits of glass. When you look into one side, light coming in to the other side creates a colourful repeated pattern caused by reflection of the beads in the mirrors. We opted for the name Kaleidoscope because when you look at the map of South Africa, with each area coloured in its predominant segment’s colour, it resembles the bright mosaic look that you get when peering through a Kaleidoscope. Each twist of the Kaleidoscope changes the colour pattern; similarly, changing your area of focus with Lightstone Explore’s Kaleidoscope has the same effect.”