REVIEW: An Open Letter to Big Top Cupcake: We Like You
Big Top Cupcake. Well, this looks kinda fun. And my kids have seen the television ad at least 25 times over the last week while watching Calliou on PBS Sprout and rationalized its entertainment vs. functionality ratio to me in way that had convinced me just enough to head over to Bed, Bath & Beyond and check it out. Good work kids, your manipulation tactics are getting stronger by the minute.
Needless to say, I shell out the $19.95 asking price for this nifty gadget (hey, two baking pans would be about the same price, but not nearly as fun as making a giant cupcake the size of your head). My mind is already spinning with the incalculable decorating possibilities for this enormous confection. Should we make a cat with licorice whiskers? How about a circus tent? Or maybe something so laden with frosting and candy that it makes your teeth hurt just by looking at it? After a quick look in the cupboards, it’s official. We’re going traditional. White frosting and sprinkles.
The instructions recommend using two boxes of cake mix for a “larger cake”, so naturally I chose that option. Bigger is better, right? Once I completely greased the insides of the cupcake molds, I poured the batter in each container leaving about two inches from the rim. Ooops, my bad…about 20 minutes into cooking time, the bottom portion of the cupcake pan is starting to erupt like a volcano leaking molten cake batter all over the bottom of my oven. I perform a tricky culinary technique (scoop out some of the cake batter and smash the half-baked cake back down in the pan) and let it continue baking until it isn’t jiggly anymore (another pro tip I picked up).
After the cakes completely cooled, I removed them from their molds which were a cinch thanks to the exuberance I used in coating the insides with cooking spray. I then took a large serrated knife and trimmed the top and bottom halves so that they would lay flat when stacked on top of each other. Frosting and decorating was also fairly simple and uncomplicated, but even that had a couple tricky pitfalls (albeit easily avoided, see tips below).
All in all, I think the purchase was a good one. The major problem with the Big Top Cupcake is that the directions stink. They aren’t professionally written and don’t include accurate instructions on measurements, temperature and cooking time. But once you get past the glitches, this unique and fun dessert is sure to please. Not sold yet? The rubber molds are completely dishwasher safe. Boo-yah!
- Completely cover the inside of the cooking mold with non-stick cooking spray before pouring the batter in.
- If you use two boxes of cake batter, fill each mold about 2/3 of the way up. You will have left over batter! We made 2 pans of mini-cupcakes with the extra.
- Use a cookie sheet to place under the pans when baking to avoid spillage.
- The cooking times are not totally accurate. The directions say 30 – 35 minutes for the top and 45 – 50 minutes for the base. The top mold does cook faster than the bottom mold, but I would recommend adding another 10 minutes cooking time at minimum. Cook it at 325? to 350? depending on your oven.
- If you are using the insert mold while cooking, do not lift it up while batter is still gooey—you won’t be able to get it back on correctly!
- Let the cakes completely cool (at least 15 minutes) before removing from the molds and cutting off the bottoms. Otherwise, the cakes will collapse and fall apart.
- For easier decorating, create a more stable and balanced cake by putting a layer of frosting in between the top and bottom cakes.
- Before you add ice cream or fruit (when using the insert mold), freeze the bottom cupcake for 30-40 minutes first.
You can find and purchase the Big Top Cupcake in many kitchen stores and on the web. Or save yourself a couple of dollars and find a friend’s to borrow. Either way, it’ll make you laugh and your kids will smile, too. And that’s worth the price of admission.
Check out the official Big Top Cupcake informercial below: