Today is The Surfing Pizza’s two year birthday. So first, thank you. Thanks for reading, for your emails, your comments, and telling me your own stories. I hope more people chime in this year and join the gang. A lot of you have your own blogs, and I enjoy reading those, too. This is cool. I am cool. And you are the coolest.
Last year, for the Surfing Pizza’s one year birthday, I made a cake with everything, which had so many sprinkles, it caused epileptic seizures. This year, I wanted to do something that could live up to it, another monstrosity of a confection. That’s when three words came to mind: Big Top Cupcake.
Big Top Cupcake is an As Seen on TV product that is basically nothing more than a big silicone pan that is shaped like a massive cupcake.
“Big Top Cupcake Infomercial”
I must have seen the infomercial one blurry, half-asleep late night, because I don’t remember becoming aware of the Big Top Cupcake; it simply was in my subconscious, and perhaps it always has been, since I was a child.
Why yes, infomercial, I do feel like a fool when my cakes aren’t cool. In fact, what I feel is shame and embarrassment when I take puny, common cupcakes to a party. I mean, just look at this—look at this beggarly cupcake and these depressed, melancholy children:
Then…a Big Top Cupcake is slammed down on the table. It sounds like Godzilla has landed.
Twelve little cupcakes or one big dumdum cupcake that’s also potentially awkward to slice? Give me the cupcake that’s four times the size of that child’s head, every time. Live by these things.
On the box flap, it is shown that Big Top Cupcake can be the ultimate party activity, with a pack of children decorating their own Big Tops. You’d have to be insane to give that many kids the equivalent of a sheet cake per child. With that much sugar available, these kids would begin foaming at the mouth. They would crab walk Exorcist-style over the furniture. They would eat family pets.
Speaking of children and cupcakes, I’m hoping somebody else out there will remember this one commercial with me. In the 1980s, the Church of Latter-Day Saints used to run PSAs aimed at children during Saturday-morning cartoons. I want to take moment to remember a particular one that featured four little girls and three cupcakes.
Four young girls are dressed up and having a tea party. One girl brings in a tray of cupcakes and announces with a lisp, “here’s dessert, ladies.” The others go “ooooh.” The smallest one giggles somewhat inappropriately. She has no idea what’s going on. She might be slow.
The math whiz of the group—a toothy, orange-headed girl—tells the little one that there’s only three cupcakes. What she’s really saying is that someone is shit out of luck.
“Mmm, these look good,” the three older girls gloat.
It then cuts to a close-up of the little one, who has a look of crippling insecurity and humiliation on her face.
She knows her place in the pecking order and that she ain’t getting a cupcake at this tea party. It’s hard to watch. The last cupcake is taken and the music swells.
Then someone finally notices that the little one is getting left out. She feels the burning pain of guilt, so she slices her cupcake in half. The little one screeches in joy, literally. It’s transcribed something like, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE CAW CAW CAW AHHHHH!”
This kid’s face disturbs me. When I was eight and this commercial came on, I used to jump off the sofa, run to the knobs on the television, and turn it off immediately. Just so I could turn it off before THAT LOOK.
One by one, the other girls cut their cupcake in half. Now, the little girl who had no cupcake, has the most.
The ad ends with the moral: SHARING. It’s the icing on the cake. But to me, this ad doesn’t say as much about sharing as it does the complex feelings of smallness, guilt, humiliation, and insecurity.
Perhaps this is why I was drawn to the Big Top Cupcake. With these whoppers, there won’t be any five-year-olds having existential crises. Not on my watch, damn it.
Instead of ordering online, I bought the Big Top Cupcake at a generic As Seen On TV store in the mall. I’ve also seen them at Walgreens and K-Mart. I overpaid at $22, but can a price really be put on the certain popularity that baking big ass cupcakes will grant me?
With ten-pounder cupcakes, I would get invited to all the parties. People would decide to have parties just because of me. Old acquaintances would come out of the woodwork trying to get me to make them one. It’s like when you win the lottery. Seriously. BIG ASS CUPCAKES. I really don’t think I need to say anything else. I could end the review right here.
I set the box out on the dining room table so it would be the first thing the girlfriend saw when she got home. I was proud, like a caveman leaving the mammoth carcass outside the cave to instill fear in other cupcakes and impress the woman.
After pulling the contents out of the box, it really was just a silicone pan. I mean, I knew it was, and yet, I had a fleeting wish that it would somehow add up to something more. But no, just silicone. I really overpaid at $22. In fact, at that price I was ripped off and left for dead on the side of the road.
The first thing you notice is that it also isn’t as big as you’d expect. Is it going to make a big cupcake? Yes. Is it going to make one that sounds like Godzilla when it lands on the table? Absolutely not. Is it going to impress an eight-year-old? Probably. Is it going to feed a family of four for six months? No.
Of course, none of this really matters, because decorating is going to be key. This is the mother of all cupcakes. It has to look good.
“So are you just going to dump a container of sprinkles on the cupcake to decorate it?” the girlfriend asked.
“No,” I said, insulted. “In fact, I was thinking of make a ganache.”
“A ganache?” She sounded skeptical.
There is no doubt in my mind that I could whip up a mean ganache. But I decided to save it for another time. This is going to be like a first date with the Big Top Cupcake pan, and I’m not going to throw myself at it just yet. A can of store-bought frosting will do.
Decorating gave me a chance to bring out my artistic side. I knew I wanted to make a face. I decided to get wax lips, because wax lips are awesome. And then I picked up some gumballs for eyes. I didn’t really know where I was going with it. I’d just let my inner-artiste guide me. Maybe I’d make a clown or something.
The cake aisle presented me with another set of decisions. Chocolate or vanilla? Whipped frosting or buttercream? Or should I just go ALL OUT BALLS OUT and get the FUN-FETTI? I decided on vanilla cake and pink strawberry frosting. I also bought vanilla Jello Pudding to put in the center filling of the cupcake.
While the directions for Big Top say to use two boxes of cake mix for a larger cupcake, you can also use one box for a perfectly-adequate cupcake. After researching online, I learned too much mix can cause the bottom silicone pan to rise up over the top and create a lopsided mess. I decided to go with one box.
As you see with one box of batter, the top part came out small and wimpy. The bottom part could have handled a little more batter. Next time, I would buy more cake mix. The burning around the sides wasn’t as ugly as it looks—it had more to do with the fact that I poured it sloppy.
The girlfriend and I decided how we should decorate it. The pink frosting made us think pig. The girlfriend loves pigs. But how would the wax lips fit in? That made us think two words: SEXY PIG.
So, for The Surfing Pizza’s second birthday, I’m making a SEXY PIG CUPCAKE FILLED WITH VANILLA PUDDING POWER. What was that I said about a first date with the Big Top Cupcake? Looks like I’m jumping into marriage already.
Speaking of which—
I had to do some leveling to the top part of cake, which doesn’t stay flat when it balloons up in the in the oven. So much for first dates with the Big Top Cupcake. I was already seeing what it looked like when it woke up in the mornings.
Oh well, frosting can hide a lot of sins. We began decorating.
At this point, I could see that there probably wouldn’t be any friends begging me to bring one of these to their party. The sloppily-frosted greasy pound of cake would sit creepily on the table. Meanwhile, some asshole always brings their homemade-from-scratch Moroccan Chai Cinnamon cookies that everyone would want to try, while my Big Top sat alone and belching in the corner. This is what married life is like with the Big Top Cupcake pan. Sigh.
After we finished the filling and frosting, it was time to put the SEXY PIG’S face on. SEXY PIG. SEXY PIG. SEXY PIG. I pressed the wax lips and purple gum balls gently into the frosted cake. The girlfriend drew a snout and eyelashes. We dyed marshmallows pink with food coloring and used them as ears.
We stood back to take a look. Let’s have a drumroll for the….
Whoa. Scary pig.
I placed the eyeballs too close together, but the girlfriend pointed out it’s the only way the SEXY PIG should look, a little crossed eyed, like Paris Hilton or Snooki. After seeing her all done up, I had renewed faith in my potential popularity. Perhaps we could even open a bakery. Or have a dessert reality show of our own.
The SEXY PIG could be our flagship cake.
I refrigerated her for half an hour to firm her up before slicing. The Big Top Cupcake can be unstable and fall apart if not properly frosted and firmed. She sliced beautifully.
My final thoughts on The Big Top Cupcake—doomed to the graveyard of useless fad kitchen items alongside the Smores Wizard, Egg Genie, Bacon Wave, and Slap Chop. Fun to use, but won’t turn out like it does on the box. An eight-year-old’s dream wedding cake. It would be cool to shove this in someone’s face. I really, really got ripped off when I paid $22 for this beast. Another birthday, another stupid cake baked for my blog.
SEXY PIG. SEXY PIG. SEXY PIG.