Christmas cupcakes too pretty to eat: A baker's decor tips

Nov 30, 2012 at 6:00 a.m. ET

'Tis the season to bake and decorate some of the most festive Christmas cupcakes around. But, a heavy hand and lack of know-how can turn an otherwise professional-looking Christmas cupcake into something that will find its home in the garbage can.

Sonia's Sweet Perfections

To help get the best results, we turned to cupcake extraordinaire Sonia Waldman of Sonia's Sweet Perfections for some tips and tricks to getting perfect holiday cupcakes — every time.

Dessert is often everyone's favorite part of a holiday meal, so here are some Christmas cupcake tips that will help make your cupcakes memorable for all the right reasons.

Use high-quality ingredients

It's easy to grab whatever ingredients are on sale, but for a wow-worthy cupcake, you have to use high-quality ingredients. Selecting a chocolate, such as Callebaut, Scharffen Berger or Valrhona, will make all the difference in the final product, says Sonia. Also, try to use salted butter in your frosting instead of shortening for the tastiest result.

Be festive

Regular vanilla or chocolate cupcakes make yummy desserts, but the holidays come around only once a year, so take advantage of seasonal decorations and flavors like pumpkin or peppermint. One of Sonia's favorites? "Red velvet is definitely one of my most popular cupcakes, with a beautiful poinsettia flower wrapper and a poinsettia sugar paste flower on top of cupcake," she says.

Holiday cupcakes from Sonia's Sweet Perfections

Go for simple elegance

Sometimes we're too ambitious when it comes to holiday baking, so if you want to make a really amazing cupcake but you're short on time, Sonia suggests that you keep it simple but elegant. "Bake your moistest cupcake and add a piece of chocolate, sugar cookie or sanding sugar to create a one-of-a-kind presentation." She also explains that being organized is key if you don't want to spend all day in the kitchen. "While your cupcakes are in the oven, start your frosting and get your decorations ready. Also, don't forget to let your cupcakes cool completely before frosting," she advises.

Easy on the decor

There's a fine line between tasteful and tacky, so use a light hand when it comes to decorating. Food coloring, sprinkles, colored sugar and candy pieces don't all belong on one cupcake, unless you're going for that look! Start with one type of decoration that's easy to execute, such as drizzled chocolate or dipping half the Christmas cupcake in a smooth dark chocolate ganache. "Add an edible flower or glitter," says Sonia, "and it will look professional and sophisticated." New to baking? Ready-made royal icing and flowers, as well as sprinkles and sanding sugar, are very forgiving. Always remember, when you are ready to decorate, less is more.

Based out of Morristown, New Jersey, Sonia's Sweet Perfections is all about luxury, rich flavors and custom service. Sonia specializes in baking gourmet cupcakes that taste as good as they look!

More on holiday baking

Gluten-free holiday desserts
Gingerbread cookie cupcakes
Mint chocolate cupcakes

Photo credits: CWR Photography