Then, with all credit to the Pioneer Woman for the original post that drew my attention to the Land O’Lakes recipe, I started researching something that sounded amazing: Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes. There are a lot of versions out there, trust me, ranging from half scratch options with a cake mix, a pudding mix, and a pre-made frosting all the way to full scratch worthy of a pastry chef. Since I’m a lot closer to the half scratch than a pastry chef, I’m making a sample batch now to see how difficult I can make this.
Or, for not-exactly-scratch, try this one from Pillsbury.
It all led me to think about how we choose our recipes. I personally own hundreds of cookbooks, most of them heavy in the dessert category, and only a few with digital editions. It makes searching for a recipe a bit of an all-day job. Yes, I search online (although I’m partial to our own Culinary Center creations), but it’s difficult to sort out the paid rankings and the truly good recipes. So, here are a few tips:
Start with your tried and true. If you have a dessert recipe everyone loves, even if you take it all the time, feel free to take it again. It’s OK for it to be expected—much better than disappointing them by trying something new that isn’t as well loved. (So, OK, I’ll make the classic cookies after all).
Make sure you’ve checked your stock of family recipes to see if there is anything that feeds a crowd—maybe something you’ve passed over in the past. Just as it’s OK to take a classic, it’s also OK to experiment. These are your friends, right?
Browse a cookbook or two, but don’t make it a fulltime job. Use them for inspiration and if you find a good idea, make it.
If you search online, be sure to search as narrowly as possible. “Dessert” will get you way too many; “Super Bowl dessert” is better, but still a lot. Try to narrow your category search to “cupcake” or “chocolate cookie.” If you saw something on a show you liked, use that as well.
Eliminate the first few that come up in your search, unless they are a trusted source. They may be big—certainly big enough to pay for keywords—but not always the best.
With any recipe, the point is to feed people and enjoy doing it, so don’t worry if it’s half scratch, or if you buy the store brand cream, or even if it flops. You can always stop at Dunkin’ Donuts and pick up some donut holes.