Food trends, like fashion trends, come and go -- and then come back again.
Eggs went from the "do not serve" list to the "throw 'em on everything from salads to burgers" list. And who can ever keep up with the poor potato -- is it passé or de rigeur?
But when it comes to desserts and party food, cupcakes still rule the sweets table in North Texas. After all, what's not to love about an individual-size cake, topped with creamy, buttery frosting?
From Sundance Square to south Arlington to downtown Keller, there has been an explosion of cupcake bakeries in the area -- there's even a mobile cupcake truck in Fort Worth. They join with a few of the staples that have been here, doing sweet business, for years.
Just in time for school bake sales, club fundraisers and holiday party season, four local cupcake bakeries have shared some of their most popular recipes, so home cooks can bake like the pros. (Resist the urge to start with a mix, and get the kids involved with these from-scratch baking projects.)
Here are their sweet treats.
Red Jett Sweets
Don't look for the address of this cupcake hot spot. It's mobile. Though based in Fort Worth, this bakery is on wheels and changes location daily.
Owners Christina Jett-Meyer and Natalie Gamez recently opened their nomadic bakery after witnessing the food-truck fad on the West Coast. Now they are spreading sugary sweetness throughout Tarrant County and beyond, and are even vying for a spot on Food Network's Cupcake Wars.
Following the motto "Have sugar. Will travel," the duo set out across the U.S. in search of the best cupcake. Thousands of calories later, they opened their happiness on wheels.
The red velvet flavor is their top seller, but this chocolate recipe is a perennial fan favorite.
Secret to a perfect cupcake: "The secret to a perfect cupcake is like many things in life -- timing! It's also important to not overmix ingredients," Jett-Meyer says. The pair also stick to a few rules: no oil, shortening or gelatin, and the more butter, the better.
The Cupcake Cottage
Forget cookies, cakes and doughnuts. This 5-year-old west-side Fort Worth bakery specializes in cupcakes. And cupcakes only.
Owner Sandra Bradshaw was a librarian at an elementary school and had students' parents throwing dollar bills at her to get more of her tiny sweet cakes. She asked herself, "If Starbucks can do it with flavored coffee and Ben & Jerry's can do it with ice cream, then why can't I do it with cupcakes?"
Thus, The Cupcake Cottage was born.
Featuring about six flavors a day (out of a repertoire of nearly 30), The Cupcake Cottage specializes in seasonal flavors: peach or blueberry in the summer, eggnog at Christmastime, pumpkin at Thanksgiving. Just in time for Oktoberfest season, Bradshaw shares a recipe for German chocolate cupcakes that you can frost with your own favorite recipe (or take a short cut and use canned).
When asked if cupcakes are a passing fad, Bradshaw said, "Cupcakes are a timeless treat and are here to stay." Apparently North Texas agrees.
Secret to a perfect cupcake: "Review your recipe carefully, refrain from substituting ingredients, measure precisely and embrace (what I call) baking techniques that work and do not waver from them," Bradshaw says.
5015 El Campo Ave., Fort Worth; 817-732-5670, www.thecupcakecottage.com
The Sweet Spot
The word cupcakes doesn't exist at The Sweet Spot. This mom-and-pop shop in north Fort Worth, the brainchild of mother of five Amy Hafele, is all about "cuppies."
Hafele was an avid baker and elementary-school teacher, and her sweets were in constant demand from friends and other parents. So she decided to give the baking business a go in March, and with her husband, John, opened The Sweet Spot.
While the daily menu typically features six to eight cuppie flavors, three signature ones anchor this bakery: Johnny Cash (chocolate with chocolate buttercream), red velvet and plain Jane (vanilla with vanilla buttercream).
The red velvet is the top seller, but Hafele can bake just about anything your heart desires. (Think Key lime, pink lemonade, cherry limeade, dreamsicle, pumpkin cheesecake and more.) Here, she shares a recipe for the popular Kentucky bourbon cuppies. (OK for kids to eat!)
Secret to a perfect cupcake: "No mixes, fresh ingredients, none of the C-word [Crisco], no shortcuts," Hafele says.
2912 Texas Sage Trail, Alliance Town Center, Fort Worth; 469-363-0975
Sugar & Frosting
Melody Fitzgerald isn't a newbie when it comes to sweets. Owner of Keller's Sugar & Frosting, this chef and pastry guru created Julia Child's 88th birthday cake, has appeared on Food Network's Paranormal Cakes Challenge and has worked in the pastry kitchen at Dallas' Mansion on Turtle Creek.
Clearly, when it comes to sweet treats, she's a master.
This bakery, which opened about a month ago in downtown Keller, was once called What's Up Cupcake. It's now serving up daily specials including caramel toffee crunch, Nutella swirl, orange dreamsicle and banana split.
She shares with readers her fall- and Halloween-themed "kickin' chocolate pumpkin cupcakes with kickin' cream cheese frosting."
Secret to a perfect cupcake: "Start with the highest quality, freshest ingredients possible; measure very carefully; frequently rotate them in the oven while baking for even cooking; and, most importantly, do not over-bake," Fitzgerald says.
126 Taylor St., Keller; 817-562-2500, sugarandfrosting.com