Cupcake Baking Demo & Recipes by Nikko Buendia @ The Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center

Two weeks ago, I had a pleasure of joining fellow bakers in a Cupcake Baking Demo held at The Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center. Nowadays, more and more people are getting interested in baking cupcakes for gifts, personal consumption and for business. Why? Because its simple-to-make, easy-to-frost and relatively easy to decorate dessert and all you need to have is a short training and easy to follow recipes.

Cupcake Baking Class @ The Maya Kitchen
Cupcake Baking Class @ The Maya Kitchen

What is a cupcake? A cupcake, also known as a fairy cake (British and Irish term and a fanciful description of its size), is a small cake designed to serve one person, usually made in a small paper cup container. It is commonly topped with frostings and decorated with sprinkles.

Most cake recipes can be turned into cupcakes and are often favored in celebrations for it is easier to serve and does not need to be sliced. It is frequently displayed with a main cake as the “taste piece” to be distributed to or eaten by the guests
B. A Little Cupcake History

Nikko Buendia Cupcake Baking Demo
Nikko Buendia Cupcake Baking Demo

The first mention of the idea of a “cupcake” can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe called for “a cake to be baked in small cup” in “American Cookery” by Amelia Simms. The earliest documentation of the term “cupcake” was in “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats” by Eliza Leslie’s Receipts cookbook in 1828.

In the 19th Century America, a “cup” cake have been said to be a small cake but it wasn’t necessarily so. They were called “cup” cakes because the ingredients were either baked in cups or measured in cups instead of being weighed. It was considered revolutionary because it saved them a lot of time in the kitchen. Food historians have yet to determine the exact origin of the name “cupcake”. In the 19th century, there were two theories explaining how it came about:

mini cupcake baking
Mini Cupcakes

It is said in previous centuries, before muffin tins were widely available; the cakes were originally baked in individual pottery cups, ramekins or molds and took their name from the cup they were baked in. This is the use of the name that has persisted, and the name “cupcake” is now given to any small cake that is about the size of a teacup.

The other is, a cake whose ingredients were measured by volume, using a standard-sized cup instead of being weighed. It is interesting to note that these cakes were also known as the “number” cake or the “1234” cake because of the method for remembering the recipe: 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, 4 eggs plus 1 cup of milk and 1 spoonful of soda. They are plain yellow cakes similar to pound cake but less rich and expensive, due to using about half as much butter and eggs compared to pound cake. The names of these two major classes of cakes were intended to signal the method to be used to the baker; “cup cake” uses volume measurement, and “pound cake” uses weight measurement.

Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today, though most classic favorites are still made up of these ingredients such as chocolate and vanilla, fancy and serendipitous flavors such as espresso fudge, cookie dough, raspberry meringue, etc. are now sprouting like mushrooms everywhere. A number of famous candies and desserts have now been commemorated with their own versions of cupcakes.

Cupcakes have expanded to a wide variety of ingredients, flavors, shapes, sizes and decorations. It has now become a canvass for those who want to explore their creativity and their pallets’ infinite curiosity. You can find so many books, websites, blogs and even shops dedicated to cupcakes alone. It has become a pop culture trend in the culinary world.

Black and White
Black and White

Cupcake Trivia –  Hostess Cup Cake was created in 1919, but up until today mystery surrounds who “invented” the original Hostess Cup Cake. Although it is known that it was Hostess baking executive, D.R. “Doc” Rice, who added the signature seven-squiggles and vanilla-crème filling. A move that created the best selling snack cake in history.

II. Tools & Supplies for Baking and Decorating
A. Baking
• Cupcake Pans
• Cupcake Liners
• Measuring Cups
o Dry Ingredients
o Liquid Ingredients
• Measuring Spoons
• Weighing Scale
• Rubber Spatula
• Metal Spatula
o Straight
o Angled
• Parchment Paper
• Manila Paper
• Mixing Bowls
• Mixer
• Wooden Spoon
• Whisk
• Calculator
• Cooling Rack
• Cookie Sheets
B. Decorating
• Piping Tips
o Leaf
o Petal
o Flat
o Round
• Piping Bag
• Coupler and Ring
• Piping Cone
• OPP Plastic for cone and as your tracing sheet
• Paint Brush
• Tooth Pick
C. Edible Supplies
• Colored Chocolate
• Vegetable Oil
• Gel or Liquid Color
• Candy Color
• Edible Glitter
• Luster Dust
• Sprinkles/Nonpareils
• Dragees

III. Baking and Icing Tips
A. Baking
• Read and familiarize yourself with the recipe you intend to follow before you begin.
• Have all ingredients and equipment ready.
• Preheat oven before starting with the recipe.
• Have an oven thermometer and timer with you always.
• Carefully measure all the ingredients, either by weight or volume. Baking is a science and requires accuracy
• Have all ingredients at room temperature especially the eggs, unless noted otherwise.
• Always remember to scrape down your mixing bowl all the way to the bottom with a rubber spatula while mixing.

• Most cakes have a shelf life of 2 to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator and 2 to 3 days at room temperature. They can also be frozen up to one month provided they are properly plastic wrapped and sealed.
• To thaw, place the wrapped cakes in the refrigerator overnight.
• Most cake recipes can be used for cupcakes as is. But if you want it puffier, reduce sugar and liquid 20%.
• Use an ice cream scoop to divide batter into the molds.

B. Icing
1. Simple
A simple icing is just a dollop of your favorite frosting on top of a cupcake spread in a simple manner using a spatula or a spoon.

• Put a dollop of frosting on top of the cupcake, about 2 tablespoons for a standard sized cupcake.
• With a small metal spatula, spread the icing until the top is fully covered.
• Create a textured pattern by pushing into the icing with the spatula counter clockwise, pushing it back clockwise to create a crater and pulling it back.
• A more simple technique is, at a 45° angle, apply a light pressure onto the icing and turn your cupcake to create a pattern.

My White Chocolate Cupcakes
My Snow White Frosted Chocolate Cupcakes

2. Piped
Piping a simple rosette or a fluffy swirl on a cupcake is an easier and faster way to frost a cupcake. You may also be creative and use the various tips available to create designs such as basket weave, star tip patterns or even pipe figures straight on to your cupcakes such as flowers, animals, balls, etc.

• Fill a large pastry bag with a huge tip, a rosette or round works best.
• At a 90° angle, starting at the edge of the cupcake, pipe swirl on top of the cupcake about 2 inches high.

3. Smooth:
A non-traditional smooth icing is a more polished approach and can be a nice backdrop for your chocolate decoration. This is can also stand nicely with just sprinkles on the side.
• To achieve this, place a dollop of icing on your cupcake. With a metal spatula, spread the icing up to and slightly over the edge of the cupcake. Smooth top with the blade of the spatula. Do not be tempted to follow the bump of your cupcake. The icing will be a little thicker on the edges compared to the center.
• Bring cupcake to eye level, holding the blade of the spatula at a 30° to 45° angle to the edge, scrape off excess icing with a downward motion then rotate the cupcake to get a beveled edge around the circumference.
• Roll edge in sprinkles, crushed nuts, cookies, other complementary decors or condiments.

4. Chocolate Glaze
Chocolate glaze gives your cupcake a more sophisticated and glowing look. Putting sprinkles on the side gives them a more whimsical look.
• Freeze the cupcakes for at least an hour or overnight.
• Hold cupcake upside down by the paper liner and dip in the prepared glaze.
• Dip up to the edge of the paper liner and move in a circular motion to ensure that the entire surface is covered.
• Lift straight up and gently shake in a rotating motion to allow the excess glaze to drip off.
• Flip the cupcake and carefully place on the wire rack to set.
• Top with your choice of décor.

5. Fondant
Same as the chocolate glaze, a fondant glaze give a more sophisticated and formal look to your cupcake. This is very ample to use during weddings and anniversaries.

• Cupcakes should be at room temperature.
• Brush with apricot jam or other similar products and let it dry
• Hold cupcake upside down by the paper liner and dip in the prepared glaze.
• Dip up to the edge of the paper liner and move in a circular motion to ensure that the entire surface is covered.
• Lift straight up and gently shake in a rotating motion to allow the excess glaze to drip off.
• Flip the cupcake and carefully place on the wire rack to set.
• Top with your choice of décor.

IV. The Chocolate Method of Creating Whimsical Cake and Cupcake Details
The chocolate method is a faster and more efficient way to make your cupcake or cake décor details. It’s very versatile and fun to do. The process is similar to painting on glass because everything is done in reverse. Details like highlights and shadows are applied first, followed by the background.
Before you attempt to proceed with complicated design, start first with simpler design. A kid’s coloring book and activity books are a nice place to start or you may draw simple freehand drawings that are easy to trace.

Not soo Pink Cupcakes
Not soo Pink Cupcakes

Here is a simple step-by-step procedure how you may proceed:
• Choose a theme of your choice
• Study and decide what colors you will need to create your decors.
• Print or create a template of a design in reverse.
• Placed under a cellophane or parchment paper on a cookie tray.
• Prepare all the colored chocolates you will need. Put them in cellophane cones.
o Melt and mix colored chocolate to get a specific color.
o Note that you can start by supplying yourself with the basic colors of red, blue, yellow, green, orange, pink, purple, white and chocolate. You can get the other colors you may need by mixing these basic colors. These colors are available in bars in baking supply stores.
• Trace the outline and the details first.
• Stop and review which colors should be seen when you flip your design. In this process, it is important to think in reverse.
• Similar to coloring by numbers, fill out the spaces with the specific colors required.
• Set aside to harden.
• Here in the Philippines, I recommend that you to place the décor inside the chiller for about 5 minutes before flipping over and adding further design. This ensures that the chocolate is easier to flip and all details are going to be peeled off with the rest of the décor.
• If it starts to sweat, Lay it front facing down on a smooth facial tissue then flip over.
• Can be stored in an airtight container and used later on when your cupcakes or cakes have been baked and are ready to be embellished.
V. Common Questions and Helpful Hints

Christmas Cupcake Decoration
Christmas Cupcake Decoration

• Pastry Cones: Make these cones out of cellophane instead of parchment paper because they maintain a clean sharp point as you work
• Cellophane: Use this as your “tracing paper” to create your designs. It is easier to see the details of your template through the clear surface and it leaves the chocolate nice and glossy.
• Parchment Paper: Use this to pipe your design if you are planning to brush it with luster dust. Parchment paper leaves a matte finish that easily accepts the dust coating.
• Paint brush: Soft sable or acrylic brushes are used to paint with melted chocolate. For detailed shading I recommend using a # 0, 1, or 2 brush.
• Heating pad: To keep chocolates warm in the pastry cones we use standard heating pads found at pharmacies. The temperature is hot, but doesn’t scald the chocolate as a double boiler or portable stove might do if the temperature isn’t perfectly regulated.

Insects cupcake decoration
Kiddie cupcake decoration


Since adding small amounts of water to chocolate will cause it to seize (when chocolate re-solidifies and becomes lumpy) you cannot use water based food coloring like liquid, liquid gel, or paste. Instead, use oil based candy colors. I recommend Chefmaster and Wilton candy colors.

Most importantly, store chocolate in a cool, dry place ? not in the refrigerator. If your chocolate is exposed to prolonged humidity it may be lumpy when melted. It is best to work with chocolate in a room at room temperature (68?70° F).

The melting point of confectioner’s chocolate is approximately 115° F. When it is melted it should be in a fluid state. Confectioners’ chocolate can easily be melted over a double boiler or in a microwave but never melt chocolate directly over a heat source, always use indirect heat.

To melt chocolate in the microwave: Place the wafers in a glass or microwave safe bowl. For 1?2 cups of chocolate, microwave in 30?second intervals, stirring in between to ensure the chocolate does not burn. It will take approximately 1 1?2 minutes to melt, but times will vary based on the room temperature, the amount of chocolate you are melting, and the power of your microwave. Stirring chocolate vigorously will often melt any remaining small pieces.

To melt chocolate over a double boiler: Find a metal bowl that fits snuggly in a medium sized pot, or use a double boiler. Fill the pot one?third full with water and bring to a light simmer (hot but not boiling). Place the wafers in the bowl. Place the bowl onto the pot. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Heat the chocolate, stirring often, until all of the chocolate has melted (approximately 15 minutes). Remove from the heat.

Flowers Cupcake Decoration
Garden Cupcake Decoration

To keep chocolates warm in the pastry cones we use standard heating pads (set to high) found at pharmacies. However, placing your chocolate bags on a sheet pan placed over barely simmering water will do. I have found that the dark chocolate requires slightly more heat to stay workable. If you fold the heating pad in half, covering the chocolates, the temperature will get hotter – check the chocolates; however, to make sure they do not overheat.

If chocolate gets too hot it can start to bake and get hard and unworkable. Also if you pipe with very hot chocolate it may re-melt other piped chocolate elements as it is piped next to or on top of them. This can cause the other chocolates details to blur or melt into each other.

If painting with chocolate, to re-melt any chocolate on the paintbrush, use a sheet pan over a pan filled with barely simmering as a palette. Pushing the bristles about on this surface will re-melt the chocolate. You have to work quickly, since when painting with thin layers, the chocolate dries quickly.

A chocolate design can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour to set completely depending on the room temperature and the size of the design. In general the designs in this book will take between 5 minutes and 15 minutes to set.

If you are in a rush, and you need your design to set quickly you can flash freeze the chocolate. Place the design (on its pan) in the freezer for approximately 1 minute or just until set. Do not keep it in the freezer any longer, because when removed, the design will sweat and leave watermarks.


Melo With Niko Buendia @ The Maya Kitchen
Melo With Nikko Buendia @ The Maya Kitchen

All the measurements listed in “What you will need” are calibrated in un-melted cups, but you can measure the wafer chocolate by the ounce or by the cup in the melted state.

Approximately 6 ounces of un-melted wafer chocolate is equivalent to approximately 1 cup un-melted wafer chocolate or 1?2 cup melted wafer chocolate. When making designs it is always a good idea to melt extra chocolate, and make extra designs, just in case a design breaks or you make a mistake and need more.

The final design should be anywhere from 1/8 to 1?4 inch thick. The larger the design the thicker it should be to insure stability and ease of handling. If the design is too thin, it will be too fragile to flip.

To prevent the decoration from breaking along the seams, it is important that the colors overlap. Also, don’t worry if you go outside the lines a little; not only will the initial outline maintain the definition of the design, but overlapping the outline will add stability. Worst case scenario, you can carefully carve off the excess chocolate with a sharp paring knife, or score along a straight line and crack the excess off along the score.

Nikko Buendia @ Work
Nikko Buendia @ Work

Before flipping a design, make sure it is completely set. If any part is still slightly soft, it will stick to the parchment or cellophane and not peel up

While making your designs, be careful not to shift the parchment paper or cellophane, this may cause the chocolates (if still in the liquid state) to ooze, blur, or change shape. If you are making more than one of a design and you only have one copy of a template, do not move the template until the chocolate of the first design has set. Another option is you can trace one template and attach a long parchment tab, or handle, to it so that you can more easily move the template under the parchment paper to pipe out multiples without disrupting those you have already made. Yet another option is to trace or make as many photocopies of the template as you need. This may become problematic, however, when you need 40 of one design. Whichever way you choose, begin by placing the template onto a sheet pan or a flat surface. Cover the template with parchment paper or cellophane, and lightly secure with one or two pieces of tape.


Although piping with chocolate and buttercream share some basic rules (like holding the bag with one hand and guiding with the other) they also have many differences. Most notably chocolate has to be in the liquid state to pipe. This may take some getting used to. You do not need to apply as much pressure to the pastry cone; instead the chocolate will often flow on its own.
I always recommend practicing on a piece of parchment paper before attempting any designs. Start with a very small hole (almost imperceptible – 1/32 –inch). When cutting the hole at the tip of the pastry cone, make sure the cut is straight across – if it is at an angle, the chocolate may come out loopy or the angled point may touch the surface causing a split line as you pipe. When the hole is this small, you may have to squeeze a bit harder than with a larger hole. If the chocolate does not flow easily, make sure the chocolate at the tip has not cooled. If it has, with your finger massage the tip against the double boiler, being careful not to burn your finger. Pipe back and forth on the parchment paper, noticing the change in the thickness of the line as you squeeze harder or lighter.

Cut a larger hole at the tip of the pastry cone and notice how the chocolate flows more easily, but also how you have slightly less control. The larger the hole, the faster you will need to move the pastry cone across the surface. Find a tip size that you are comfortable working with. Most designs can be done with different line weights. A heavier line may give the design a more playful quality, and a thin line may lend itself more to realistic subjects. See each chocolate method directions for more information on lines and Portraiture and Shading for more information on fine line work.

If you are a novice, you may notice that the beginning of each line has a dot. With practice, the size of this dot will diminish or disappear all together. To help reduce the dot size, clean the tip on a blank piece of the parchment before starting the line. Also, choose to start each line where the dot will be least visible, like at a corner where other lines intersect.

To end a chocolate line, stop applying pressure and tilt the entire bag upwards to change the direction of flow and create an abrupt end, or to create a point, drag the tip on the surface of the cellophane or parchment as you release pressure.


A “Chocolate Method” decoration is supposed to be smooth and flat on the flipped and decorated side. If you see the texture of the piped chocolate or excessive air bubbles it may be caused by the chocolate not being in the desired liquid state while you were making the decoration.

If the chocolate being piped is too cool it acts more like icing, keeping a linear shape. It does not flood into the area being filled or piped like a liquid would. I recommend having two pastry bags of each color chocolate. While you are working with one bag have the other bag warming on a heating pad or a sheet pan placed over a pot of barely simmering water. Switch bags often to insure you are always working with warm chocolate.

Chocolate is temperamental. It has to be kept slightly warmer than body temperature or it begins to set. I have found that the white chocolate is the perfect working temperature if it rests on a heating pad at high heat and the dark chocolate prefers a slightly hotter surface like a portable stovetop or double boiler.

Humidity also affects the way chocolate melts. If your chocolate was exposed to excessive or prolonged humid conditions, you may have difficulty melting it, instead it will seize. If the seizing is not severe, you can counteract it by whisking a few drops of vegetable oil into the melted chocolate.

Another reason textural lines or air bubbles may appear is the size of the hole in the pastry cone. The larger the area you are trying to fill in the larger the hole in your pastry bag should be. Keep in mind you don’t want the hole to be so big that you are unable to control the flow of chocolate. If you try to fill in a larger area using a very small hole the first rows or lines of chocolate you piped may start to set before the other layers are in place.

This creates a lacy effect with many holes. Try to work as quickly and efficiently as you can without sacrificing quality. To increase efficiency, have all of the chocolate and colored chocolates you will need to complete a design melted, poured into pastry cones, and ready to go. If you have to stop mid?design to melt chocolate this could affect the quality of your final design.

There is so much resources in the internet on how to bake a perfect cupcake but I must agree, its different when you watch an expert preparing it for you and not only that, Its best when you try it yourself with the guidance from people who perfectly does it.

The Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center offers different short whole day courses from cookie baking, cake decoration, japanese cooking to advanced culinary courses. This month of November, learn Japanese cooking and impress your loved ones by joining Chef Seiji Kamura as he shares the flavors of Japan. Know more about Japanese savory and soupy dishes plus dessert on November 20 (Sat) 9am-1pm. Register now!

Maya Kitchen Culinary Arts Center
8th Floor, Liberty Building 
835 A. Arnaiz Avenue 
Legazpi Village, Makati City 
Tel: 892-5011 loc. 108 
Telefax: 892-1185

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