Sunday, 16 March 2014

Vanilla Spice Latte Cupcakes Part Two - The Desirability of Buttercream?

I feel that our friend, the dear cupcake is fighting a defining battle. On the one hand we have the delicious looking scrumptious cupcakes topped with decadent towering swirls of buttercream and dripping with caramel or chocolate sauce and on the other the sophisticated smooth beauty of the fondant domes, understated and refined, beautiful and oh so wedding ready. These cupcakes above and all those below are the Vanilla Spice Latte Cupcakes that I shared with you last time. They are a coffee and cardamom flavoured cupcake topped with swirls of vanilla buttercream.

I'm a big fan of both buttercream swirls and fondant topped cupcakes and combined the two in this cupcake tower for John and Fiona's wedding, but, you know what? and it is really hard for me to say this, but, there is something about those fondant topped cupcakes, that, well, just doesn't make me want to eat them, at least not in that, I have to have that delicious swirl of buttercream, right now and keep eating them until I feel sick kind of way.

I know that I am not alone in this, I have taken batches of cupcakes to work and found quite often any fondant topped ones are left forlornly alone at the end of the day, their buttercream topped cousins having been devoured hungrily many hours previously. Maybe people see fondant and think of that cheap chemical tasting stuff that covers those cheap supermarket Birthday cakes? Or maybe they say, "Oh, those are too pretty to eat", but nothing truly delicious and scrumptiously tempting was ever too pretty to eat? Was it?

My husband thinks that this is just people's greed - they take the buttercream swirls because they look the biggest and I think there is some truth in this, but there must be something more behind this preference too. I don't know whether you saw it, but there was an episode of Horizon that aired in the UK at the end of January this year that featured some research by Paul Kenny of the Scripps Institute that discovered that foods that had about 50 / 50 ratio of fat to sugar, may stimulate the pleasure centre of the brain so much that we can't resist or stop eating them. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read more about this.

And do you know what? buttercream just happens to be pretty much a 50 / 50 fat to sugar ratio. Well, whatever the reason, I decided to try prettying up my buttercream swirl cupcakes with some sugar flowers to see if they could compete in the looks department with those fondant tops and these iare what I came up with.

The large flowers are the same as I used on the Chocolate and Caramel Giant  Cupcake I made last year that was raffled for charity, except that I changed the flower centre to a coffee bean, I thought this was a minor stroke of genius and hope that you agree. I tried the flowers n two different colours, ivory to represent the cafe latte flavour and green to be reminiscent of the cardamom.

So what do you think? Do you want to eat one of these, or would you prefer the plain old buttercream swirl? 

 That's all for today
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This is how the Express summed up the research referred to above
"Feeding laboratory rats with either high-fat and high-sugar diets did little to change their daily habits or health but supply them with chocolate, biscuits and cheesecake (a near 50-50 fat and sugar split) and behaviour changed radically.
They ignored other foods for the cheesecake, going back to it regularly rather than gorging, and put on weight. Their self-regulation system, that naturally stopped them eating too much fat or sugar, effectively switched off.

“It became their main source of calories,” Kenny tells Horizon. “They gained massive amounts of weight, became sedentary, slept a lot and did not move around.

He found that the allure of processed food was overriding the body’s natural hormones that regulate intake by alerting the brain that the body has enough calories. It is the same faculty that is impaired in drug addicts whose On-Off mechanisms are degraded by the release of pleasure hormones in the brain’s hedonic system, he says"

Read the whole article from the Express here if you are interested 

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