DIY: Sweet Brains

Many of our Brain Awareness Week partners are now hard at work planning their events for March 12-19. Event theme? Check. Venue? Check. Speakers? Check. But what about…food?

Our #brainweek partners are by no means responsible for providing food at their activities, but should they want to, here is some sweet inspiration from my kitchen to yours.

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If you look online, there is no shortage of brain decorated cupcakes, largely (or almost entirely) because of Halloween. But we found a few tasteful options that don’t go straight for the zombie-gore look. For our exercise, we went to the master of decorative sweets herself: Martha Stewart. And let me tell you, she did not let us down with her chocolate cupcakes.

Her instructions call for homemade buttercream icing, but my colleague and I took a shortcut with store-bought decorating icing (in red and blue!) and vanilla buttercream frosting. Making the brain decoration on top looked easy; we followed the instructions from this video (more or less). Using the buttercream frosting, we made a small mound on top of the cake and then completed the brain design with the decorating icing. Our first attempts looked like brain spaghetti because the icing opening was too narrow, but the star-shaped opening worked pretty well.

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Brain cupcakes made with the thinner icing

The pros and cons of decorating icing:

Pros: You don’t have to make the icing or purchase a piping bag.
Cons: Decorating icing is thicker and stiffer, so it does not create smooth, tight brain folds.

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If decorating is not your thing, one potential shortcut is to make mini cupcakes, frost normally, and add half a walnut, which has a brain-ish look to it (and tastes great!).

Speaking of taste, here are a few other brain cupcake recipes you could try:

Keep in mind, we haven’t tried these other recipes. But if you do, please leave your review in the comments below!

Overall, we were quite happy with our experiment, both in taste and appearance. I may or may not have even eaten about eight cupcakes in four days after the fact (delicious, but not recommended).

Happy baking!

–Ann L. Whitman

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