I have so many talented friends that I seem to spend much of my life saying things like "Wow!" and "I wish I'd thought of that". I had one such moment a couple of months ago when Dani, founder of the excellent Cottage Cooks website, announced on our forum that she had been designing and making her own cupcake wrappers. She's even set up a website dedicated to them: www.cupcakewrappers.co.uk, complete with 'Cupcake Wrappers Blog' to keep you informed of new developments on the Cupcake Wrapper scene.
It's no secret that I love baking cakes, but I must admit that I'm not great at decorating them... I have many sprinkles and glittery bits for cake decorating, but I've never really mastered the art of icing (it's on my 'to do' list!). However, these cupcake wrappers do away with the need for all that - of course you can still decorate them if time, skill and occasion allows, but just slip the naked cupcake into one of these and voila! It looks pretty perfect with no effort on your part at all.
I can't tell you how delighted I was to receive some of these fabulous wrappers as part of an Easter gift from Dani. They arrived in a bag, flat-packed, prompting plenty of "what are they?!" confusion from those unfamiliar with this genius concept.
Yesterday I was struck by the cupcake-making urge and had one of those days where lots of things came together very nicely... I had half a tin of condensed milk in the fridge which needed using up, and I was determined to find a great chocolate cake recipe after a couple of recent chocolate-cake-related disappointments. I found Nigella's 'Birthday Cake' recipe in her book How to Eat and discovered that it required the exact amount of condensed milk that I needed. It was clearly meant to be. I also had 3 pears that were past their best, and as I love the combination of chocolate and pear I peeled and chopped them and added them to the cake mix.
They turned out beautifully. The mix made 15 generously-sized cupcakes. You might even call them muffins - I've never quite worked out the difference.
When the cakes were cool I made up the cupcake wrappers - the work of a moment, inserting the tab into the slot provided - and slipped the chocolately beauties inside.
As you can see, the wrappers are reversible so you can choose which look you prefer - or wrap half a batch each way.
I think I'm most drawn towards the elegance of the brown polka-dots with the chocolate cakes... but the ice-creams and lollies design is very cute and summery, and such pretty colours!
These wrappers would be a perfect way to make any special occasion even more special - do take a look at the Cupcake Wrappers website yourself and have a browse through the many designs there.