The Secrets Of Cupcake Perfection

Each year, more than 15,000 home cooks submit recipes to Taste of Home magazine in hopes of winning one of the publication's six national recipe contests.

In the most recent contest, the search was for the best cupcake.

Mary Bilyeu of Ann Arbor, Mich., took the top prize, and showed The Early Show viewers the secrets of her success. She was joined by Taste of Home editor in chief Catherine Cassidy.

Bilyeu, a self-confessed chocoholic, tests her recipes on her 16-year-old son and his friends. Her winning recipe contains four types of chocolate and brewed coffee in both the cake the frosting. According to Cassidy, it was this winning combination, as well as a tender cupcake and fluffy frosting, that made the recipe a stand-out.

The cupcake recipes are in Taste of Home's current issue.

Published six times a year, Taste of Home is the No. 1-selling cooking magazine, with almost 4 million subscriptions. It comes out six times a year and is comprised almost entirely of reader recipes.

The magazine's philosophy is that if a recipe has become a favorite in one home, it will certainly be a hit in others. The magazine's test kitchen road tests all of the recipes before publication.

In each issue, Taste of Home sponsors themed recipe contests, such as "cakes" or "picnic side dishes." Editors name a total of 12 winners: a grand prize winner, a second-place prize and 10 runners-up. The contests are among Taste of Home's most popular features.

After each contest, The Early Show has one of the winners on to show us her or his prize-winning recipe. The winner is joined by Cassidy, who offers her insights on ingredients and techniques. Other wining recipes from a given contest will also be shown on the show.

Cassidy offered several tips for making great cupcakes:

  • Use a shiny pan, not one that is dark and has a no-stick coating.
  • Cupcake liners offer two advantages: easy removal/cleanup and the cupcakes stay fresher longer.
  • It's important not to overfill the cupcake liners; aim for about two-thirds full.
  • Keep your oven rack in the middle of the oven and be careful not to overbake your cupcakes.
  • Here's how to "lunchbox-proof" a cupcake so that the frosting won't squish all over: Slice the top off of a frosted cupcake and flip it over to make a mini-layer cake. Then wrap it in plastic.

    Taste of Home's next recipe contest is for the best slow cooker recipes. To get the details and submit your favorite slow cooker recipe, click here.

    For the top two recipes, go to Page 2