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Ice Dreams: Ruminations on the Ice Cream Cone Cupcake

Cupcakes baked in ice cream cones

Growing up in suburban New Jersey in the late 80's/early 90's, a kid's coolness in school could easily be determined by what treat they brought in for their class party on their birthday.

There were the poor things who brought in a homemade cake. These kids were definitely not awesome--who would spend time baking cake from scratch when they could be watching Full House? Of course, these were probably the tastiest of the treats, but no self-respecting child of the 80's would have admitted it at the time.
Then there were the ones who brought in Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins: artificial, sugary, and a crowd pleaser. Of course, extra points to the parents who got extra chocolate glazed ones. Nobody liked to be the kid left with the last sad-looking crushed unglazed munchkin.
But then--in the hallowed light of major coolness, were the ones who brought in the coveted cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

Cupcakes baked in ice cream conesOh no!
A phenomenon in the late 80's, it appears these cones are making a comeback. They're cropping up in bakeries and on websites, and though part of us says "too soon!", part of us also thinks "welcome back!". But it got us wondering--what's the deal with these cupcakes? And so we dug out our old Debbie Gibson cassettes and got to some sleuthing and sweet soul searching on the subject:

Cupcakes baked in ice cream cones
Why in the world would you bake a cupcake into an ice cream cone?
Um, because it's, like, awesome? In retrospect though, we suspect it's the ease of cleanup that was the main lure: no messy cupcake wrappers hanging around and being dropped on the floor like a waiting banana-peel joke.
Where do they come from?  
We can't say for certain, but we suspect that this was a phenomenon that came from the back of a box of cake mix, since they were usually prepared the same way (with a rainbow-chip funfetti style cake). On a recent hunt in the grocery store, it seems that indeed, the recipe does appear on the back of Betty Crocker's "Party Rainbow Chip Cake Mix". 
Cakespy Note: Additional research has revealed two tidbits: one is that the recipe has also appeared on the back of ice cream cone boxes; the other is that previous to their 80's heyday, the cone-cakes had enjoyed a bit of vogue during the 60's...but once again, the origins are hazy. 

Cupcakes baked in ice cream cones
Why are they so awesome?  
You may remember the late 80's as a time of a distinctly synthetic glitz, and we believe that this was part of the ice cream cupcake's coolness. It had the look: it was bright and colorful, but then again, it had a hidden secret. It looked like an ice cream cone! But when you bite into it...it's cake! What can we say, children of the 80's were easily impressed.

Where can I buy them?  
As previously mentioned, these cupcakes are enjoying a bit of a comeback. We predict that soon you'll be seeing homemade versions cropping up in hip bakeries; we hear you can currently find them at Treats Truck in NYC.
How do I make them?
Some will tell you that the best ones are made from scratch. In terms of taste this may be true, but if you want to make a truly authentic, late 80's / early 90's ice cream cone cupcake, it's all about the mix and as many artificial colors and flavors as possible.

Here's the recipe (and picture, left) we found on the Betty Crocker site. (Cakespy Note: We copied the recipe below as it was posted on the Betty Crocker site; however, when baking them ourselves, we just put the batter directly in the ice cream cones and it worked out fine).


1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® party rainbow chip cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and egg whites called for on cake mix box
24 flat-bottom ice cream cones



1 to 2 containers Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy frosting (any flavor)
1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
2. Make cake batter as directed on box. Fill each cup 2/3 full of batter (1 heaping tablespoon each). Place ice cream cone upside down on batter in each cup.
3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean (cones may tilt on batter). Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Remove paper baking cups. Generously frost cake with frosting, and decorate as desired. Store loosely covered.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Follow High Altitude directions on cake mix box. Fill cones about 1/2 full to make 36 to 40 cones. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.




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Reader Comments (60)

So glad to know that I was not the only child who looked forward to the ultimate cupcake cone. I had not had one in years, then I made them for my son to take to daycare for his 4th birthday. I was in love - and so were the kids. Of course the new school rules around here only allow healthy birthday snacks (some teachers allow muffins, but no cupcakes). I just may have to make some for my friends birthday to bring to her this weekend. YUMMY!

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterTheAngelForever

I've been wanting to make these for my little boy. Thanks for posting!

August 21 | Unregistered Commentersurcie

That was so much fun to read! I was a child in the 80s but not in NJ. In Portugal beeing cool in the 80s was having sandwiches for parties without the bread crust...

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterClumbsy Cookie

These are too cute! I cant wait to give them a go.

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Danger

I have seen these but never had one before myself. Now, all of a sudden, I feel the need to bake some! Alas, I need an occasion, though!

Thanks for another great post!

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterWandering Coyote

As a much older (not necessarily wiser) reader, I can tell you that these cupcakes in cones may reach further back than the 80's.

And, you're right, they are making a comeback. Betty Crocker Canada featured them in a promotional campaign video just last year.

August 21 | Unregistered Commenterdana McCauley

So adorable! A little question though.. don't the cones burn in the oven?
Thanks for sharing :)

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterIsa

I am just catching up, J! LOVE this post! Will have to link to it in some form or another!

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterBethany

I remember coveting these at the grade school "cupcake day" sales, but I was never able to get one because all the sixth graders got to them first.

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterCandy Yum Yum

I remember coveting these at the grade school "cupcake day" sales, but I was never able to get one because all the sixth graders got to them first.

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterCandy Yum Yum

hooooooooooow super freaking cute are those!? What a great idea for a summer birthday party! wow

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterLina

I made a ton of these for my husband's family reunion this summer, when one of his distant 12 yr old cousins spied them and came charging up to me excitedly, exclaiming: "I've had a recipe for these for so long! But my mother won't make them because she says they look like too much trouble!! THANK YOU FOR BRINGING THEM!!" I made them with Funfetti mix baked directly into the cone. A helpful tip: put the cones inside muffin cups to bake. Sitting them on flat baking sheets makes it tricky to get them in and out of the oven...

But other than that, they are super easy to make!! (though a bit tough to transport...)

Thanks, Jessie!

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterBMoreSweet

I made these for my son's bday in his Kindergarten class, and yes... I was the cool mom who brought in a great treat. I just found out that his new school this year does not allow parents to bring in homemade treats. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT??? Something about possible allergies, etc. !!

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterRecipeGirl

AngelForever: OMG! No cupcakes in school!?!? But they allow muffins!? A travesty! Please sign me up for the PTA so I can lobby!

Surcie: You're welcome! Enjoy!!

Clumbsy Cookie: Just one bite of these and you'll have the essence of an NJ adolescence. OK, maybe add some hairspray too (to your hair, not the cupcakes).

J. Danger: Hope you enjoy!

Wandering Coyote: It's Friday! There's your occasion!

Dana McCauley: Tell us about your memories of them!!! We're curious about the roots.

Isa: No! The cones did NOT burn in the oven! I had the same concern, but they were fine!

Bethany: yes, this is like crossing the gab between ice cream and cake! :-)

Candy Yum Yum: Those damn sixth graders! Make some now and don't share. :-)

Lina: Ha! Glad you enjoyed!

BMoresweet: Yes! I found out the hard way that I should have baked and decorated them while they were in a tin, they were a bit top heavy (hence the capsized one you see in the post!). But VERY easy to make! When transporting them I put them in a baking tin and stuck a toothpick on top of each to keep the frosting safe. It worked out pretty well for a short distance (just down the block).

Recipegirl: I do not believe that! I guess the allergy thing, ok...but still! That was the best part of elementary school for me! The treats!

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Whoa...total quinky-dink...I just blogged about these a week ago!

August 21 | Unregistered CommenterCathee Conner

They didnt have these in Britain in the 80s - I hadnt seen them until the recent revival and I was just as excited as all you guys. I made my own and they were amazing (although my boyfriend didnt understand. Hes traditional - a cake should look like a cake were hes from)

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

it really is a brilliant idea--kudos to whomever thought it up.
meanwhile, the schools back home are becoming so rigid, they no longer allow students to bring in treats for birthday celebrations. talk about a downer. i guess we had it good. :)

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

These are so cute. This is a phenomenon that I missed out on in my childhood, but heck, I'm happy to revisit my childhood to get a hold of one of these.

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterCakelaw

Love, love, love those photos, Jessie!

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

Your post brought back so many memories! I don't remember the cupcake cones but I do remember homemade cupcakes brought to school. I do remember one mother broght a few pizzas instead of cupcakes one year which we ALL loved but it made all the birthday cupcakes after that less exciting. Thanks for posting and p.s. I LOVED Full House!!

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sugar Flower

Whoa...I could feel that edible-oil-product slick of frosting and artificial flavouring-numbness on my tongue the whole time I was reading this post! Ewwwwww...there is not a chance on earth that I could gag down one of these today, but thank you for a bite of delicious nostalgia.

PS: I remember the recipe appearing on the box the cones came in, in fact.

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

oh my gosh — munchkins were the #1 birthday treat in my school (on long island), but one girl's mom made ice cream cone cupcakes and i thought they were magical! thank you so much for the recipe. i never tried to make them myself because i couldn't figure out how to arrange things in the oven.

August 22 | Unregistered Commenterandrea jean

I <3!!!! SOOo cute!

August 22 | Unregistered Commentercakewardrobe

I remember making these in the late 60's in my home-ec class. And I know I made them for my son as afterschool treats in the late 70's through the 80's. I don't know who came up with the idea, but it is a wonderful way to keep kids occupied, make a batch and let them decorate them any way they want to.
I always stood them up in muffin tins in the oven.
Hm... I think I will make a batch this afternoon for my husband's lunch box.
Thanks for the memory tickle,lol!

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie D.

Very nice. Not just it looks tasty but the presentation is great. The kids would love this.

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