I've bought every Martha Stewart book ever published so it's not surprising that I bought this the day it came out. And when I started going through looking at all the photos of the cupcake recipes, I kinda figured it might turn into my favorite Martha cookbook.
The book starts out with a few pages of the chapters that await you. The cupcakes are divided into Swirled and Sprinkled, Dipped and Glazed, Simple and Sweet, Filled and Layered, Piped and Topped, Birthdays, Holidays and Celebrations. You'll find things like Tiramisu Cupcakes in Swirled and Sprinkled and Blackberry Cornmeal Cupcakes in Simple and Sweet. There is a brief introduction page and a quick "any day" page just letting you know that cupcakes are appropriate any time of the day or year.
The back of the book has a chapter on The Basics which includes pages on ingredients, tools for baking or decorating, working with fondant, a nice list of pastry tips, an extensive list of frosting recipes like cream cheese or Swiss meringue buttercream. Recipes for sugar cookie cutouts and how to make chocolate mint leaves are also included in the basics section. There is a chapter on Displaying and Giving and a Templates and Clip Art section. The index area lists sources for vendors and the equipment, display plates etc. that she uses in the book. Pretty extensive index by ingredient, recipe, type.
The best thing about this book are the photos. It's kinda hard to showcase a cupcake unless it's frosted and decorated and Martha does a wonderful job here. The photos really make me want to eat make all the cupcakes in the book. She makes something as simple as a Stout Cupcake (the photo is just the cupcake with the glaze dripping over the sides) look delicious. But honestly, it's the decoration of the cupcakes where this book really shines. Things like Ladybug Cupcakes which have little marzipan ladybugs nestled in green buttercream grass or Wise Owl Cupcakes which uses pretzels to make the owl face, these are quintessentially Martha.
Though some of the cupcakes will take a bit of work to make, Martha does give pretty good instruction. No strange ingredients and though you might need some basic decorating tools for some of the more decorative cupcakes, any cupcake recipe listed would work fine with just a simple frosting.
This is the part of the post where I usually list what recipes have caught my eye, which recipes might tempt me to try them. Impossible with this book. I seriously want to try them all....from simple things like Red Velvet Cupcakes or Devil's Food Cupcakes to Tres Leches Cupcakes or Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes. Oh and did I mention the Halloween Cupcakes? The Shark and Sand Dune Cupcakes I have to make the next time I have folks over to watch a hockey game? Yep. Every single recipe is on my list.
Note: Those of you that have bought MS Living magazine or have received newsletters from Martha might recognize some of the cupcakes in the book.