Nick and Danielle Bilton; photo by Bre Pettis
Name: Danielle Bilton
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Jack of all trades in the pastry and food media world (Freelancer) and cooking teacher in the Upper Eastside of Manhattan
photo by Nick Bilton
How long have you been baking cupcakes and where do you get your recipes from?
I've been baking for 6 years now and my recipes are a collection from places I've worked and cookbooks, that I have adapted into my own.
You studied panting, art history and color theory at the School of Visual Arts. How has this influenced your approach to baking?
I'm a visual person, so whatever I make must look as good as it tastes.
You've worked at Magnolia Bakery, Billy's Bakery, The Lever House as a Pastry Chef, The Food Network and staged for two weeks in the Jean-Georges pastry kitchen. What have these experiences taught you about cupcake baking? Any juicy secrets to share?
There's never enough cupcake recipes! Sorry, no secrets here.
You and Nick said that you came up with the idea for the iPhone cupcakes at midnight the night before. What was your inspiration?
Nick. He's obsessed with his iPhone, as everyone else is and downloading the newest iPhone application. I think he has 4 or 5 pages of apps on his phone.
You used a chocolate cake with a grey butter cream and fondant iPhone applications. Why'd you pick that particular combination, and which of the iPhone apps were the most challenging?
I wanted the apps to have the illusion that they were on an actual iPhone screen. The most challenging application was the ipod and the numbers on the weather app.
Nichelle's talk was about how cupcakes are the "iPhone of desserts." Agree or disagree?
Agree, although there is a larger fascination for cupcakes then there is iPhones. I still have yet to see an iPhone parade.
You purchased a blowtorch specifically to make your recent s'mores cupcakes, plus you made the marshmallows! Can you tell us more about the making of these cupcakes? Do you prefer to create your own recipes rather than use someone else's?
We were walking passed chikalicious and picked up a couple of their s'mores cupcakes. They were tasty, but they were missing something...real toasted marshmallows! The best part of a s'more is the gooeyness of the toasted/melted marshmallow. It's always fun to create your own recipe, I think. Working in the test kitchens of the Food Network helped me understand how to dissect and create your own recipe. It's a great place to work.
You teach cooking classes to children. At what age do you think kids are ready to start baking cupcakes? Do you have any advice for parents on getting them started being comfortable in the kitchen early on?
They can be ready to mix and decorate cupcakes around 2.5-3 years old. The best advice I can give is if you're not scared to get in the kitchen, they won't be scared. Take your kids to your local farmers market and have them pick out the vegetables they want to try, they love that!
What cupcake haven't you made yet but would someday like to make?
Chaos Theory's "bacon peanut butter chocolate cupcak.e"
Why do you think cupcakes have become so popular recently?
They're small, cute and a great way to express your own style through different flavor combinations and decorations.
And now for some personal questions…
How often do you eat cupcakes?
Not too often, about once a month.
What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?
Getting frosting all over your mouth and licking it off.
What's your favorite type of cupcake?
Mini ones with lots of frosting.
How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?
I can't really think of a baked good that is guaranteed to make me feel better than a well frosted and beautifully decorated cupcake. So, there's really no comparison for me.
Is there any innovation you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?
A cupcake salad bar in Whole Foods. Imagine, a variety of frostings, fillings, cupcakes, toppings, the possibilities are endless. It'd be the new hot spot.
Do you bake your own cupcakes? Or (even better) have someone who bakes them for you?
I bake my own, for now.
What's your first cupcake-related memory?
Going to Magnolia Bakery with Nick for dessert, on our first date.
What's the most fun you've ever had with a cupcake?
Torching it for the finishing touches on my s'more cupcakes
Do you have anything else to add?
Go team Bilton!