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Cupcakes for Every Occasion

Martha Stewart Living, February 2009

It's not hard to find a cupcake that's pretty enough for a pageant. Walk into any bakery or party and chances are you'll encounter an array of squat little cakes peeking out underneath picture-perfect mounds of frosting, nary a sprinkle out of place. 

If these diminutive desserts could bat their eyelashes at you, they just might. Alas, this is too often where the allure -- not to mention the baker's attention -- ends, given that few cupcakes are able to back up their outer beauty with inner qualities other than dry and boring. Perhaps it's time to free cupcakes from their usual confines, to rethink them as tiny, irresistible versions of your favorite full-size cakes, in all their varied appeal. 

The dozens of stunning creations that follow taste as superb as they look, and their recipes and designs can be mixed and matched to satisfy any craving. In fact, you'll find there's a cupcake for every age and occasion -- and every day in between.

Everyday
Most people think they need an excuse to make cupcakes. Not true. After trying these simple yet surprising batters -- in flavors as familiar and fetching as banana, pound cake, and even peanut butter -- the only rationale anyone will really need is, well, just because.
Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Multicolored Frosting
Ginger and Molasses Cupcakes with Whipped Cream
Pistachio with Raspberries
Brown-Sugar Pound Cake
Peanut Butter
Chocolate Chip
Banana with Caramel Buttercream

Special Occasion
You're not the only one who likes to dress up for parties. When you need a dessert that brings equal measures of whimsy and elegance to an event, whether a shower or an anniversary party, these stunning beauties deliver -- and are even poised for their close-ups.
Coconut
Chocolate Faux Bois
Piped Shells and Pearls
Edible-Flowers Cupcakes
Pool of Apricot Jam on Mini Cheesecake
Chocolate-Mint Cupcakes
Candied Citrus on Orange-Vanilla-Bean Cake

Holiday
Tailoring sweets to Valentine's Day doesn't mean you have to feel beholden to convention. These decadent cupcakes, from chocolate to strawberry, are anything but predictable in both appearance and underlying appeal. They're perfect for an office party for 20 or a quiet dinner for two.
Brownie Hearts
Handwritten Valentines
Strawberry with Strawberry Buttercream
Piped Roses

Birthday
Why top your party favors with the typical icing and sprinkles when you could turn them into bumblebees and monkeys and sunflowers, oh my! No matter what flavor frosting or cake, or what ages the recipients, these inspired creations will be such a hit, you'll need to make enough for seconds. Actually, make that thirds.
Boston Cream Pie
Candy-Bow-Tie Cupcakes
Hedgehog Cupcakes
Gumdrop Cupcakes
Mouse Cupcakes
Marzipan Starfish
Piped Buttercream Sunflower
Baked Meringue Bouquet
Monkey Cupcakes
Marzipan Bumblebee