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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)

As a child of the 80s, I can totally relate to this post. I only hope my kids will love these as well!!

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

What my mom did that was the coolest were the icecream cone clowns. :)

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

i've never baked mine upside down like your instructions.. now i'm going to have to try that method. (the tops are high, nice and round!)

August 22 | Unregistered Commenterelicia

The treats truck!!!!!! OMG, I was going to post an "I have to have these" comment, but now I can *actually* have one!

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

What I want to know is where to get those adorable bear-shaped sprinkles!

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterOwl Chick

Amazing! I feel like throwing an outdoor birthday party right now! Or, checking into 4th grade for another semester!

PS: Just wondered if you'd seen this article:


August 22 | Unregistered CommenterSurcie

These are irresistibly adorable!

I wish these had been the fashion when I was a little girl. My grandkids would get a kick out of them -- would be fun to bake and decorate them together.

I always wondered how they filled them. I thought they stood upright and wondered how they didn't fall down!
Clearly I am not bright enough to bake.
Your cupcakes are so inspiring.

August 23 | Unregistered CommenterNatashya

Awesome cupcakes! I was never so lucky to get cupcakes like this when I was growing up! I want one! Better yet, send me two!

August 23 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

My mom used to make these for my sister's and my birthdays when we were little! Yay for cupcakes in cones! (Teachers always loved them - no hunting down and throwing away those licked-off cupcake wrappers shoved in desks!)

August 23 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Smith

these look super cute. They re perfect for kids especially in summer. :-)

August 23 | Unregistered CommenterSnooky doodle

Wow, They sure look yummy! Have been wanting to try these out but haven't got the time..


August 24 | Unregistered Commentercupcakeculture

Having grown up in Suburban New Jersey myself (Landing, NJ on Lake Hopatcong - small world, eh?), I know exactly what you mean!

I've seen tons of these cupcake cones but never attempted to make them myself...I didn't realize who simple they were to make. Tomorrow might just be the day. My son will LOVE them!

August 24 | Unregistered CommenterJaimee

Where did you find the colored cones?!

This is a nostalgia hit, except the ones from my youth were never nicely domed and forget the sprinkles too. Flat on top with yellow cake and a super thin shmear of chocolate frosting was standard here in MI.

August 24 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie

WOW I love this throw back to my youth.. I had totally forgotten stinkin cute these are. You are never to old to enjoy these that is for sure. These will be a hit at the next gathering of the girls not to mention the converstation and the memories this will spark.

This time around we will be able to enjoy these with a great glass of WINE.

When I was a child during the 60's, my granmother gave me an illustrated Betty Crocker Kid;s Cookbook, in it was a recipe for ice cream cone cupcakes that you poured the batter directly into the cone before baking. They were awesome! I remember that I made them for my 9th birthday party. Since then, they have become a family tradition for all the munchkins under 10. I used to bake them in brightly colored rainbow ice cream cones; I wonder what happened to those. I am so glad to see you help them make a comeback.
Also, a very Happy Birthday to you!

August 24 | Unregistered CommenterLynda

i've never tried BettyCrocker's rich & creamy frosting but it seems to have a wonderful texture and smoothness abt it.
i've seen loads of ppl make cupcakes in ice cream cones and they look so fun and fantastic - i really shd try it soon.

August 25 | Unregistered Commenterdiva

So crazy. I posted about this early this month. I never had these growing up. I just saw them one day and thought it was a cool idea. Then, I picked up a box of ice cream cones and saw the idea and recipe! I ended up using my own cake and frosting recipe. The kids loved them.

August 25 | Unregistered Commentersliceofsueshe

I made these for my son's class last year and was disappointed that the cones got all mushy. I bet baking the cones on top would keep the cones crisp and use less frosting (apparently a goal of preschool teachers worldwide) to make the impressive "scoop" of ice cream!

August 26 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I can't remember now what magazine I got the idea from, but when I was in my early teens I saw flower pot versions of these. You frost them with green then decorate them frosting or cookie flowers. I made them for a church bake sale, but I can't really remember now how they turned out.

August 27 | Unregistered CommenterPinky

I had these for my eighth birthday party back in 1995. They were great! My mom made these and then she put ice cream into the cupcake liners. This definitely has me craving some!

August 27 | Unregistered CommenterFoxTrottinKate

How cute! I saw these at a birthday party recently, but never would have thought to make them.

August 27 | Unregistered CommenterFoodaholic

Gorgeous cones!

August 28 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl
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