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Recipe: Crystal Cupcakes by Elisa Strauss

August 15, 2009

Story and Photo from
the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Original Crystal Cupcake Recipe
by Elisa Strauss

Elisa Strauss is the author of The Confetti Cakes Cookbook” (Little, Brown and Co.) and a second book published this year, “Confetti Cakes for Kids” (Little, Brown and Co.) Confetti Cakes is a custom cake business on New York’s Upper West Side. Ms. Strauss is renown as one of the finest cake makers in the business.
Crystal Cupcakes

These beautiful cupcake toppings are made by dyeing ordinary rock candy with stunning colors to make it look like shimmering crystal.

For the rock-candy crystals:
• 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) vodka
• Food-coloring gels: bakers rose, super red
• 2 pounds rock-candy crystals

For the cupcakes:
• 1 cake recipe, any flavor
• 1 frosting recipe

• Trays lined with parchment or wax paper
• Metal bowl
• Toothpicks
• Strainer• Cupcake tins
• Pale pink cupcake wrappers
• Small offset spatula

To prepare the rock-candy crystals:
At least 1 day in advance, dye the rock-candy crystals.
Combine the vodka and 1/4 teaspoon of pink or red food coloring in a metal bowl. Stir to distribute the food coloring evenly.

Place a handful of rock-candy crystals in a strainer and lower the strainer into the vodka mixture. After a few seconds, remove the strainer from the bowl, allowing the excess liquid to drain back into the bowl. If the color is too dark, add some more vodka or water to lighten it.

Spread the dyed rock-candy crystals in a single layer on a tray lined with parchment paper and let them dry overnight.

Repeat this procedure with the rest of your rock-candy crystals. If you want more than one color (at least three shades will provide a nice assortment), start with the lightest shade, then add more food coloring to the vodka to adjust the color of the rock-candy crystals, and color the next set. The longer you keep the strainer in the mixture, the darker the crystals will become. Keep the different colors separate while drying.

To prepare and assemble the cupcakes:

Prepare the cake batter as directed. Line the cupcake tins with wrappers. Fill each halfway with batter and bake the cupcakes as directed by the recipe. Let them cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.

When they are cool, frost the cupcakes with a dome of frosting. (Create a dome by spooning or piping a small amount of frosting onto the cupcake. Beginning at the center, use an offset spatula to pull icing out to the edges and create a smooth, domed surface 1/2-inch thick.)

Use a spoon or your hands to pile the colored rock-candy crystals onto the cupcakes. If the candy is not sticking to itself to create the height you want, spritz it with some water. Let the cupcakes set for 10 to 15 minutes.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

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