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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)

I associate these with the mid-1970s, when they appeared at summer birthday parties for several years. I thought they were awesome, and have been thinking about them lately, wanting to make some for my two and a half year old daughter. Thanks for the recipe and the trip down memory lane!

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

My grandma made these for my brother and I all the time in the . . . .brace yourself . . . .70's!!! Thanks for the sweet walk down memory lane.

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterCheri-Beri

insane. great post. funny, with bits of history and great photos. and... a wonderful looking and comedy-filled recipe to try!!!

August 30 | Unregistered Commenterlyndsay

We used to make these all the time when I was little! We called them Walkabouts b/c you could eat it while you were walking about. Although, now that I think of it, it's not like you couldn't walk around with a cupcake...

September 2 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Yummy post! Thanks so much for sharing this! :O)

For ease of transport, stick a paper umbrella into the top, wrap with plastic wrap, then tie the top with an appropriately colored ribbon. Makes for a nice summer theme, keeps the plastic wrap off the frosting, and the kids LOVE the little paper umbrellas.

October 27 | Unregistered CommenterRage

I'd imagine yours are so top heavy because you bake them upside down and the cone doesn't get filled with cake. When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s (and baking them for my kids in the 90s) we stand the cones up and fill them 2/3 full with batter. Then you don't have the empty bottom of the cone. It's like getting a chocolate easter bunny and finding out it's hollow! Gyp! lol

March 14 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have made these several times and they are always a hit. I also buy a bag of dum dum suckers and stick them in the middle. It makes it look like theres a cherry on top. Very cute.

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

These look really cool!

Stefani @ http://www.mommyenterprises.com" REL="nofollow">Mommy Enterprises

I loved these when I was a kid! I was just trying to come up with something different and fun for my preschooler to take for snack person- voila!! My sister and I actually made these for my niece's Hannah Montana birthday party last year, and dipped the frosted part in little silver jimmies- they looked like microphones! The girls LOVED them!

January 9 | Unregistered CommenterAngie
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