Cupcakes are a perennial favorite of kids and adults alike. You can combine flavors creatively, use artful decorations and make them in dozens to feed a large group. And cupcakes travel easily. While you can bake them ahead of time and frost them the day of an event or party, you can also complete the cupcakes and store them in the freezer if you’re busy and short on time leading up to the gathering. By following a few simple tips, freezing frosted cupcakes is a cinch.
Freezing Cupcakes Individually
To freeze cupcakes properly, begin by allowing the cupcakes to completely cool at room temperature for a full six hours, at minimum, on a wire cooling rack rather than inside the muffin tin they were baked in. Place the cupcakes on the rack or a makeshift cooling area to allow air to flow beneath it and properly cool the cupcakes.
If the cupcakes are still warm when you wrap them, the heat will trap any condensation that forms against the plastic wrap or foil, causing them to get soggy and eventually grow freezer burn if placed directly in the extreme cold. Furthermore, hot cupcakes will cause the frosting to melt and run off. Once cool, frost the cupcakes and add any additional decorations to the frosting.
To keep cupcakes fresh for as long as possible, store them in an airtight container to prevent them from drying out and going bad as quickly as they would if exposed to open air on the countertop. The best way to store cupcakes is to first freeze the cooled, frosted and decorated cupcakes on a plate. Freezing the frosted cupcakes on an open plate first will allow you to wrap them without damaging the design or appearance of the frosting atop the cupcakes.
Once completely frozen, wrap each individual frosted cupcake tightly in plastic wrap before placing it inside a self-sealing, structured container such as a plastic box. Using this method will help lock in moisture while keeping the cupcake fresh and preserving the taste and texture of the frosting.
Thawing Frozen Cupcakes
Before you're ready to serve the frozen cupcakes, place them in the fridge for at least two to four hours to slowly come to room temperature. This will prevent any condensation from forming inside the plastic wrap as well as keep the frosting from sweating. Slowly bringing the cupcakes to temperature will also help preserve the taste and texture of both the cake and icing, which can degrade with rapid temperature changes.
Store Cupcakes in the Fridge or at Room Temperature
Storing cupcakes in the freezer is ideal to keep the baked treats fresh over a longer period of time. Storing cupcakes for a shorter period of time, such as a week or less, should be done at room temperature or in the fridge. Cupcakes are best stored in a single layer at room temperature in a self-sealing box container, where they will stay fresh for four to five days, maximum. If the weather is particularly hot, however, place the cupcakes in a single layer inside the storage container; then place it in the fridge. This will keep the cupcakes fresh without the frosting melting off. Storing cupcakes in the fridge will cause them to lose some flavor, though they will stay fresh for up to one week.
Molly is a freelance journalist and social media consultant. In addition to Leaf.tv, Molly has written for Teen Vogue and Paste magazine. She is the former assistant editor of the Design and Style section of Paste magazine. View her work at www.mmollyharris.com.