Home > Questions to the reader > What’s the Next Cupcake? Nothing, Cupcakes are Cupcakes…

What’s the Next Cupcake? Nothing, Cupcakes are Cupcakes…

I was reading the website of my local newspaper, and they asked this question in a pole.  The link will take you to the results page.  It appears that pie of some sort is in the lead.

But I say, we shouldn’t compare whatever comes next with the cupcake.  It makes no sense to me.  One trend just doesn’t mirror another enough to make a decent comparison.   Yes we’re talking about desserts or sweet treats here, but the choices given are different enough that they don’t compare easily.

So I guess we’ll have to discuss the options here so you can get a better idea of my thinking.

Cupcake:  Well, like the name implies its a small cake.  It lends itself to a variety of cake flavors as well as fillings and toppings.  It can be treated like a small cake and frankly a good cake can stand on its own or make up for a lacking filling or frosting.  Or a delicious filling can add flavor to a lack luster cake.  Essentially, you have three elements that work together to make the cupcake delicious even before any design element is added to the topping.  So you can make it delicious then worry about pretty.  And you have options in how you’re going to do that.

Macaroons:  I love macaroons.  But in the end, its just a cookie.  And a good macaroon isn’t a big cookie that can take being decorated like a cupcake.  What it essentially comes down to is you can dip the macaroon in chocolate, white or real.  Maybe add some other flavor elements, but there’s not much going on there.  So the macaroon has to stand on its own, which means it has to have the absolute best ingredients and be done perfectly.  No room for error, and no way to cover it up.

Doughnuts:  This would be my choice personally.  I love doughnuts.  Even bad ones are generally edible and who doesn’t love fried dough.  The thing with doughnuts is that like cupcakes you can fill them and top them to make them even more delicious.  And like the cupcake you can make up for shortfalls in the dough by having really superior fillings or toppings.  Unlike cupcakes, nobody expects doughnuts to be overly decorated and pretty.  Better to be good than beautiful.

Mini-pies/tarts:  I love pie.  Pie is where I started my cooking career.  I would spend the entire morning on Thanksgiving baking pies for the family dinner.  I was about 7 when I started baking pies.  Pie crust is all about ingredients and technique.  If you don’t do it perfectly, you get a bad crust.  Unlike a cupcake or doughnut, a killer filling can’t rescue a bad pie crust.   In fact, a good filling only emphasizes a bad crust.  And the filling has to be able to stand on its own.  As well as a whip cream or meringue topping.  In pie, you have three separate elements that not only have to work together, but have to stand on their own as well.  So pies and tarts absolutely have to be perfect in every way to be the next big food trend.  Also, unlike a cupcake, macaroon, or doughnut, even mini pies don’t lend themselves to eating out of hand.  If the crust is made right, it’ll be strong enough to hold the filling just until it’s broken by the first bite.  Then it starts to flake, crack and break apart.  That’s when the filling drops out and lands all  over your chest.

Whoopie pie:  I had to look this one up as I don’t know much about them except that a few of the bakers on Top Chef Just Desserts made them.  So from what I gathered its a puffy cake/cookie sandwich filled with cream.  So, an Oreo sandwich cookie that isn’t all dried out.  I could see variations, different cake/cookie elements.  Flavoring the cream filling.  Maybe dipped in chocolate.  Like the macaroon though there’s not much going on there and very little room for error.  Ingredients and technique are all going to have to be spot on to make that killer combination that will make it THE dessert to have.

As I said, these are all very different desserts that don’t compare well.  They do contrast well though, and I could see a tasting plate with mini versions of each.  That would make a good dessert indeed.  So, what’s you’re choice to replace the cupcake as THE dessert?  Macaroons, pies, doughnuts, or whoopie pies?  Or maybe you have something else in mind.  I also happen to be a big fan of freshly made churros.

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