Cupcakes Making A Comeback

GENERIC cupcakes cupcake

At Mannino's Bakery in suburban Detroit, the cupcakes are works of art. Little cakes for all seasons.

Sunday Morning Correspondent Serena Altschul reports on a sweet trend sweeping the nation - the comeback of cupcakes.

John and Nancy Mannino have been designing these mini-cakes for 20 years.
Once these diminutive desserts were mostly for children's birthdays and holiday treats.

But not any more. Adults are gobbling them up, too. From Detroit to Washington, from New York to L.A., cupcakes have grown up.

"We have our carrot vegan cupcake and we also have our decadent chocolate truffle cupcake," notes John Mannino.

A Vegan cupcake? Isn't that an oxymoron?

"Well, not really," Larry Maiman responds. "It's dairy free. It's egg free."

Altschul exclaims, "which makes it sound delicious free."

Larry Maiman's customers disagree. At Mani's Bakery in Los Angeles, the Vegan and chocolate cupcakes have been best sellers for 15 years.

One customer drove 35 miles to get one of these chocolate truffle cakes: "They're really, really, really delicious."

The recent cupcake obsession is also evident in New York, where bakeries battle for the mini-cake market. The little frosted icons have gone gourmet. Even weddings and cocktail parties are now catered with champagne, and cupcakes.

Cupcakes have been around since the late 18th century. The name is said to come from the amount of ingredients used to make it - a cupful of flour, cup of butter, cup of sugar - and also because they were originally baked in cups or cup-shaped moulds.

Since the 20th century, mass-produced cupcakes have wreaked sugar-frosted havoc on generations of children. Hostess makes 400 million chocolate cupcakes a year.

Perhaps it's that childhood memory of creamy cupcakes that's fueling the craze for fluffy frosting today.

"It takes people back to an age where they're not currently. I mean I think about cupcakes, I remember chewing on the paper, I remember just being really indulgent about it," says Warren Brown.

Brown is a lawyer who has turned those memories into Cake Love, his new bakery in Washington D.C.

"The key to a good-tasting treat", Brown says, "is how you serve it."

And just as important, is how cupcakes look, which brings us back to the idea of the cupcake as a work of art.

Clare Crespo is a baker and author of "Hey There, Cupcake," a cookbook for the confectionally inspired. She teaches children, and grown-ups how to transform these trendy treats into hamburgers, crabs, even eggs and coffee.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, cupcakes have come of age.