Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Institute of Culinary Education - Cupcake Workshop 1

I just took the most amazing cupcake workshop ever! Well, I've never taken any cupcake workshops before so by default, this is the best I've ever taken. But even if I had, I still think this would have been the best.

I took the class at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) which is just across the river from Hoboken, in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. Chef Melanie Underwood was our instructor for the Cupcake Workshop 1 class. She was so knowledgeable and it was such a pleasant experience to get all my cupcake-related questions addressed in one location on one day.

I showed up at ICE for the 5 hour long course on Sunday morning (it lasted from 10am to 3pm) and met 15 other people who were also interested in developing their cupcake-making prowess. After Chef Melanie and all the students introduced themselves, we broke out into groups of 2 and we chose a particular type of cupcake to make. The options were Vanilla, Chocolate, or Lemon. My partner, Rich, and I chose to make the lemon cupcakes. I primarily wanted to make the lemon cupcakes because it's rapidly becoming my favorite cupcake flavor. This decision was seriously questioned later on, as I painstakingly zested 8-10 lemons for the cupcake batter.

After the cupcakes were baking in the oven, Rich and I then made a Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. We opted to use Passion Fruit puree in our buttercream as a flavor. It was so good I considered just sitting down with a bowl of that and a spoon. This might not have gone over well though. We were also given the task of making Whipped Cream as a second frosting option, but somehow we forgot all about that, so, um...yeah.

Some of the other frosting options the class made were Dark Chocolate Glaze, White Chocolate Glaze, and Swiss Meringue (which is different from Swiss Meringue Buttercream). Each group put their own flavorings in their frostings, so we we ended up with Praline Swiss Meringue, Grand Marnier Swiss Meringue, Vanilla Swiss Meringue, Raspberry Swiss Meringue, and Passion Fruit Swiss Meringue Buttercream. To be honest, I don't actually know which of the other frostings were buttercream or not, but it doesn't matter. They still looked and smelled amazing.

The cupcakes were portioned out so that each student had an assortment of cupcake flavors to frost. I ended up with 14 cupcakes. The next step was to begin the frosting process. Chef Melanie showed us how to pipe with different tips and make different shapes. We learned how to make chocolate shavings and chocolate curls, as well as how to incorporate lemon curd into the cupcake itself and/or the frosting.

I'll let you be the judge of my cupcake frosting experience. Some of the cupcakes turned out better than others, but I'm proud of every one of them. The entire experience was great. I would recommend it to everyone. It was my first time in a professional kitchen, which was a little daunting, but Chef Melanie and the assistants were very responsive to any questions that we had and were there to help us complete a task if necessary. Rich was a great partner. He's trying to determine if he should make a career shift from a graphic designer to a cupcake-making connoisseur. That's just awesome. And I can't wait to take the Cupcake Workshop 2 class.

Here are my photos of the finished products! The first few photos were taken at ICE with my point and shoot camera, so they aren't as nice as the ones later in this post. I just figured there was a high probability that I would topple the cupcakes during transit from the kitchen back to my apartment.

Cupcakes on my decorating tray

First box of cupcakes

Second box of cupcakes

These cupcakes belong to a fellow cupcake maker. I just thought they were gorgeous so I had to take a picture of them.

OK, back to my cupcakes...I was going to create a collage for this, but I think I'll just give each cupcake it's own time to shine. Because I can.


  1. these are all beautiful!!

    I would LOVE to take a class like this!

  2. I love the flowers as decoration- couldn't help but be reminded of you when I was watching one of the few channels I get in English- The Food Network. Two words: Cupcake Wars. :)