Monday, December 14, 2009

Attack of the Gingerzombies

I have a slight obsession with World Market. This has been ongoing ever since my days as a poor college student when I first walked there (yes, walked) to buy the requisite dorm room place setting of a single plate and bowl. Thanks to World Market, instead of the typical bag of 500 paper plates gathering grime on top of the mini-fridges of my fellow students, I got a sleek, Asian-inspired, MATCHING black ceramic plate/bowl set for about $10. Now that I'm getting more into cooking and exotic foods, World Market is still my first stop as they import tons of ethnic goodies from around the world and stock them at affordable prices (All spices are $1.99-$2.99. Yes, all of them. Even vanilla beans and whole nutmeg. Believe it). So, I was very excited last week when I found my favorite store also branching out into cupcakes. Nestled somewhere between the English clotted cream and the Italian fruit syrups I happened to spy this friendly looking canister cupcake kit.
Complete with gingerbread cupcake mix, cinnamon frosting mix, white sprinkles, cupcake liners and gingerbread people cupcake toppers, the Jo Cupcake brand kit contains everything you'll need to whip up 8 holiday-themed cakes in no time.

It's been awhile since I've made a dessert from a box (and definitely a first for one from a canister) but there are a few things I admire about pre-packaged mixes. The first is consistency; the ingredients are well-mixed and perfectly proportioned and you can pretty much count on what you're going to get every time. Portion control is also a plus; generally you're not going to end up with enough dessert to feed an army (here's looking at you, Martha, and your recipes for 36 cupcakes). Finally, time and money; when you don't have a lot of time or resources, packaged mixes are great for getting that home cooked feel in a jiffy and on a dime. As for this particular mix, it cost $4.99 and I'd give it a B+.

What I liked
  • Seasonal decorations included. These are the kind of details that really make a dessert stand out on a holiday table but that can also send the cost of your recipe sky high. The fact that they are included in the kit really gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
  • Amazing frosting. The flavor and color of the cinnamon icing really pack a punch and it's a great complement to the gingerbread cake.
  • Great texture. These cakes came out soft and spongy and were still delicious the next day as well.
What I didn't
  • Where's the batter? There wasn't really enough mix to fill all 8 liners, and I only got about 6 1/2 cupcakes out of the batter.
  • "They taste like gingerbread-flavored Necco wafers." I don't recommend actually eating the gingerbread people cupcake toppers. Unless you're looking for some dental work on the cheap.
  • Gingerzombies. Most of the cupcake toppers had also gotten damaged in transit. Try not to notice the empty, eyeless stares of the ones in the pic below.
Overall, I do recommend this kit if you're looking for a quick, homemade treat to bring to a holiday party this season. The flavor is delicious and the kit is relatively easy as long as you have some standards on hand (oil, egg, butter, powdered sugar). If there's not a World Market in your area, the Jo Cupcake line is also carried at some Bed, Bath and Beyond stores in a range of flavors.

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