It's interesting to watch for new ways to make or use
common food products. For example, there are new
twists on cupcakes, soda pop, food coloring, and slow
When Gourmet magazine put cupcakes on the cover of its
January, 2004 issue, cupcakes were elevated to star
status as quality desserts, artfully presented. Next
came cookbooks devoted solely to the art and flavors
In Cupcakes from the Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn
(Workman, $13.95), we even see a voluptuous Cupcake
Wedding Cake. Individual cupcakes are stacked on
tiers, and the cupcakes are cloaked in sumptuous
frosting and decorated with gold dragees, fresh roses,
and other flowers. How can you not say "I do" to
Or imagine Ms. Byrn's Halloween Spider Cupcake with
orange buttercream icing and decorated with Chocolate
Spiders made from chow mein noodles, chocolate chips,
confectioners' sugar, and crispy rice cereal plus a
A second cookbook, Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans
(Chronicle, $16.95), elevates adult flavors to the
world of cupcakes with Orange Chiffon Cupcakes with
Orange Butter Icing and Hummingbird Swirls (based on
the Hummingbird Cake of banana, pecan, and pineapple
with cream cheese frosting).
Because of the popularity of cupcakes, I was not
surprised to see the Wilton Cupcakes 'N More Dessert
Stand, which holds 23 cupcakes. It is priced at $29.99
and available at www.wilton.com or at retail outlets
such as Michael's and Wal-Mart.
Likewise, there's a new twist in soda pop: Make your
own. Soda-Club USA is a machine ($99.99) that comes
with three flavor concentrate bottles (each makes 12
liters of soda pop). The machine makes carbonation
beginning with water mixed with your choice of 25
flavors that include diet cola (sweetened with
Splenda), root beer, and orange-mango.
The product, with limited retail distribution, is
mainly in boating and RV stores. "It's easy for
boaters and campers to use because [the soda pop
machine] doesn't have to be plugged in," says Jessica
Broomfield, spokesman for Cherry Hill, N.J.-based
Soda-Club USA. It is powered by the compressed air in
the Alco2Jet Carbonator.
The product was sold at the Ohio State Fair. "People
couldn't believe you can make your own soda," Ms.
Broomfield says. Estimates are that making a liter of
soda pop costs 42 cents or less. To order, call
1-800-SODA CLUB or visit www.sodaclubusa.com.
This fall, watch for McCormick Fall Food Colors (food
and egg dye), which are perfect for trick-or-treating
foods. Craft black cats, witches, and pumpkins with
burgundy, forest green, orange, and the No. 1
requested food color, black. These colors will be
available through November. Suggested price is $3.87.
Slow cookers were introduced in the early 1970s, but
now that they have had a resurgence in popularity,
Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners are available. Simply line
the slow cooker with the heat-resistant liner, prepare
your recipe as normal, and toss the liner when you're
done. The liners are designed to fit both round and
oval-shaped slow cookers between 3 and 6.5 quarts.
Each carton of liners includes a recipe booklet
featuring slow cooker recipes such as Chunky Beef
Vegetable Soup and Glazed Cinnamon Apples. The latter
is an ooey-gooey treat; in a lined slow cooker, you
don't have to worry about scrubbing the mess later. A carton of four liners is $2.49.