Sprinkles Cupcake

Photo: Victoria Pearson

Though we've been eating cupcakes in this country for hundreds of years, a Sprinkles cupcake, born only five years ago, is distinct and instantly identifiable from the rest. At its core, a Sprinkles cupcake is a modern spin on a childhood classic and its aesthetic reflects this...its elegant, handcrafted frosting is swirled above a moist cake baked in a dark chocolate brown cupcake wrapper. The finishing touch is a modern take on the classic childhood sprinkle—Sprinkles' iconic modern dot.

Sprinkles cupcakes are recognizable the world over, but you don't need to be a business owner to think about developing a signature style. For instance, there are several moms at my son's school who have developed a reputation for desserts that go beyond just a great-tasting brownie. Wouldn't you love to be known for your pristine, organic cakes or your tarts and pies oozing with local, seasonal fruit? Or how about retro lunch box favorites that make everyone feel like a kid again? A friend of mine who is known for her festive dinner parties always challenges herself to make a dessert from the latest, just-released celebrity chef cookbook. As a result, her guests always know they are in for something unexpected and restaurant-worthy.

Create your own style:
Developing a signature style can be as simple as putting a personal "mark" on every dessert you make. At Sprinkles, our mark is our modern dot, but it could be anything—a candied rose petal, a drizzled chocolate "autograph"—or it could go deeper than that and really reflect what you love as a baker and a person!

Learn how to classify and develop your own signature dessert style
Chocolate cake

Photo: Candace Nelson

Architectural and Show-Stopping
Do you like to make a statement? This signature dessert style can be created with clean lines and architectural shapes.

  • Bake cakes in square or triangular shapes.
  • Stack cake layers off center, then melt chocolate into a thin sheet and break cooled chocolate into shards to adorn your creation.
  • Make roll-and-cut (rather than drop) cookies to keep perfect shapes.
  • Glaze cookies in single colors or use melted chocolate to make dots and lines in geometric shapes.

In general, keep colors to a minimum. Dark browns and whites work well together. If you go with color, stick with a monochromatic palette.
Fruit tart

Photo: Candace Nelson

Rustic and Artisan
Do you troll the farmers' market every Sunday? Do you love to make free-form galettes oozing with fresh, local fruits? Or date bars studded with nuts, whole grain hearth breads and olive oil cake? What about strawberry shortcake brightened with fresh citrus zests?

Whatever artisanal creation you decide upon, be sure to adorn it with fresh herbs, candied fruit or nuts, a light dusting of powdered sugar or dollop of velvety whipped cream. Simple, natural and understated beauty is the name of the game with this style. Resist too much adornment, as the beauty of the ingredients should speak for themselves.

Colors should be muted and natural—marked only by the color of a fruit or green color of a pistachio nut. Source ingredients from the local farmers' market to keep your creations seasonal and local.
Ice cream sandwich

Photo: Candace Nelson

Retro and Homey
Reminiscent of what came out of your grandma's kitchen, retro/homey desserts appeal to the child in all of us.

Fill your dessert repertoire with things like Coca-Cola cake, old-fashioned apple or banana cream pie and timeless American classics like cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies. No need for restraint here! Big dollops of swirly frosting, big drop cookies teeming with chocolate, ooey-gooey caramel and mile-high ice box pies are fun, fanciful and make us feel like kids again.

Create your own take on retro favorites like Ding Dongs and Twinkies, but elevate them with high-quality ingredients, like bittersweet chocolate and fresh cream. Adorn with melted caramel, whipped cream, sprinkles, colorful frostings and peanuts. Basically, anything you could find on a banana split will do!

Photo: Candace Nelson

Exotic and Trend-Setting
Are you known for sporting edgy new designers and always being the first to try the newest restaurant in town? Then your desserts should be trend-setting and adventurous as well.

Use unexpected flavor combinations, check your favorite foodie magazines for flavor trends, borrow from other cultures or simply innovate using your own thrill-seeking palette. Mix bacon with chocolate or maple and liven up a predictable cupcake. Add exotic flavors like rosewater, pistachios and cardamom to an otherwise ordinary pound cake. Break the rules and mix flavors that people wouldn't expect in a dessert...curry and pumpkin? Delicious! Chocolate and chilies? Subtle, but surprising. Add a savory touch to almost anything with a sprinkling of large granules of sea salt.

I encourage you to think of your desserts as your calling card. Next time you drop one off, everyone will know exactly who made it!