The humble cupcakes are now gourmet delights. Fancy a cupcake wedding tree? Sangeetha Devi Dundoo indulges

These bite-sized treats are getting their due, at long last. Earlier dismissed as ‘sponge cakes' wrapped in butter paper and sold over the counter at neighbourhood bakeries, cup cakes are now turning gourmet delights. Dark chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing or vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing, red velvet, strawberries and cream or coffee flavoured cupcakes… choices are aplenty to satiate the sweet tooth.

The choices correspond to the perk in demand and sales. Cupcakes are now flying off the racks of patisseries as gift boxes, desserts for get-togethers and as add-ons with wedding cakes.

Mehnaz Hussain of Labonel painstakingly made ‘a cupcake wedding tree' where a few hundred cupcakes were arranged on the branches of a small custom-made wooden stand. The base was wider with more cupcakes and the ‘tree' tapered towards the top, where a 1kg cake was placed to be cut by the newlyweds. “It took us a lot of time to decorate the tree. The effort was worth it,” she smiles.

When wedding planner Dinaz Noria saw the cupcake tree at the wedding, she realised she had another job at hand: to guard the tree! “I had to request people not to help themselves to the cupcakes until the couple cut the wedding cake on top. Corresponding to the Hyderabad jewels weddings theme, the tree had plenty of red velvet cupcakes and a few with chocolate and cherries,” she recalls.

Besides weddings, there are custom-made birthday treats where several cupcakes are placed together to resemble a cake. When the candle is blown and the celebrations begin, you don't need to cut the cake. Simply help yourself to a cupcake from the formation. It's non messy and you don't fret over cutting the cake right to ensure everyone gets a bite of the cake and the icing. Several patisseries, from those in star hotels to individual ones such as The Cupcake Shop, Sweet Nirvana, Labonel, Ofen and Deli 9 have accelerated this transformation of cupcakes in the city.

Mamatha Mallipudi of Sweet Nirvana attributes this revival to the different flavours and looks that the humble bite-sized delicacy lends itself to. “Cupcakes can take on a festive look for Easter, Christmas, Halloween and even for Indian festivals like Deepavali and Rakhi,” she says. The restaurant recently made cupcakes with Rakhi pattern icings. She adds, “In these health-conscious days, people are comfortable enjoying a small cupcake than a large piece of a cake. Cupcakes are non messy; you don't need a plate and cutlery.”

Patisseries in the city get orders for customised cupcakes to befit baby showers, birthdays, anniversaries and weddings. “Apart from flavours, the emphasis is on colours. Yellow, orange and pink work for children's birthdays, blue and pink icing are in demand for baby showers, and sometimes, we chocolate dust or place chocolate curls on the cupcakes. Better still, use seasonal fruits like strawberries as toppings,” says Mehnaz.

There's no dearth of variety. “We recently made 1400 cupcakes for a rainbow theme first birthday party by placing seven cupcakes in each gift box, one representing each colour of the rainbow,” adds Mamatha. That's not all.

Special cupcakes were ordered during World Cup and IPL season bearing flags of participating nations.

Clearly, this isn't an ebbing tide.

Choose your pick

Cupcakes come in many heavenly colours and flavours. Here are a few that are available in patisseries in the city: Red velvet, dark chocolate, vanilla, cherry and almond, lemon, peanut butter, mocha, midnight fudge, chocolate chip, banana, carrot, honey walnut, strawberry and cream (seasonal), chocolate orange and lemon chiffon delight.

Keywords: dessertscupcakes