Kristen Tolle is an old friend of mine and has become, in my words, "The Cupcake Wizard." What follows is a short interview with her which highlights some of the nuances of the recent cupcake craze and some of the "wild and crazy" things she's been doing with them lately.
Me: Cupcakes are so hot right now, why cupcakes?
Kristen: I think it gives people the opportunity to splurge without indulging. And you don’t have to commit to one flavor, you can sample several in one sitting!
Me: What makes them better than just regular cake?
Kristen: I don’t know if I would say they’re better than regular cake—people have done incredible things with cake for years. But for whatever reason, cupcakes have taken on a life of their own and people are willing to experiment with cupcakes in a way I’ve never witnesses with cake...bacon has recently become widely popular in the cupcake world, as well as peanut butter & jelly—two ingredients that I’ve never really seen in bakeries before now.
Me: What was your first experience with them?
Kristen: I’ve always loved miniatures and were drawn to cupcakes because they were miniature cakes with small decorations. My dad used to take my sister and I to a bakery on our way home from soccer games on Saturdays and I would either get a cupcake or a cookie. I loved the frosting.
Me: Did you make them a child?
Kristen: I don’t remember making cupcakes as a child. I remember having cookie parties with my friends…
Me: Do they bring back some, possibly regressed, childhood memories?
Kristen: Hmmm…maybe my love for miniatures. I LOVE dollhouses, miniature decorations, etc. People will tell me a little bit about the person I’m making the cupcakes for and I’ll try and personalize the cupcakes as best I can with mini decorations.
Me: What was your first gig as a cupcake guru?
Kristen: Pumpkin Spice for Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2008.
Me: What are some of the more interesting cupcakes you make?
Kristen: Cupcake Bites are probably the most interesting and have been a pretty big hit across the board. I’ve since taught classes on how to make them and have to limit my flavors on certain holidays because of the number of requests I’ve gotten.
Me: Have you had any strange requests, like, icing shaped like Dick Cheney's head on them?
Kristen: When someone requested alcohol in their cupcake I originally thought it was a strange request, but I did a lot of research and tried a bunch of different recipes, and now have a whole Cocktail Cupcake Line featuring Marble Rum Cones, Tequila Sunrise, The Cadillac
Me: What cupcakes do you consider to be your... bread and butter cupcakes [pun intended]?
Kristen: Crushed Oreo Minis and Pumpkin Spice are my two biggest sellers… cupcake bites are more expensive because of the time that goes into each batch.
Me: What are your fanciest cupcakes you offer?
Kristen: Burger Cupcakes—buttermilk cupcakes w. brownie “meat” slabs in the middle and green “lettuce” + red “tomato” frosting
Cupcake Bites—bite sized cupcakes tossed with frosting and dipped in flavored candy melts
Me: Any weird cupcakes in your repertoire that we should know about? Fruity Pebbles, Black Licorice, "Adult" Cupcakes?
Kristen: Anything goes in cupcakes!
Me: I heard there is a "carrot cake revival" going on in the cake world, do you see that going on with cupcakes too?
Kristen: Absolutely!! I have a 24Karat Mini which is already pretty popular; I’ve gotten two bridal shower requests since I made it for a party of mine in June. It’s a very moist, light dessert as well as the alternative to chocolate. I love making them!
Me: Anything special you want our readers to know about?
Kristen: It’s currently a side business and something I love to do but I’m still learning as well and always inspired by others. I’ve had to turn down orders because I didn’t have the time or help to really do what was needed.
Me: OK, how do they get a hold of you? / Can you ship them?
Kristen: People should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my mobile. The cupcake bites can be shipped and last the longest. Pricing is determined by cupcake size, mix-ins, packaging, and quantity!
Me: Thanks Kristen, keep cranking them out!
Kristen: Thanks David!!