Tools for Transport: Cool Containers for Food & Treats
Is there anything more annoying than spending an hour decorating cupcakes, only to find they bounced around the box on the way to your kid's party? Here are some ideas on how to securely tote your home-baked or frozen goodies.
Using a tray and plastic wrap only creates gangs of roving cupcakes on the minivan floor. Companies like Tupperware and Oneida sell custom cupcake and cake carriers. The Tupperware carrier does double duty as a rectangular cake carrier, while Oneida makes its nonstick baking pan part of the two-tier, 24-treat carrier itself (Crate and Barrel offers a similar model). All have handles for easier toting. The Cupcake Courier by Jennifer Gunn Designs is a colorful plastic carrier that holds 36 cupcakes or muffins under a secure plastic dome topped with a carrying handle.
Krista Fabregas, founder of KidSmartLiving.com, which offers family-friendly home and safety products, performs what she calls her trademark "go to the warehouse club and make friends with your cake guy" trick. "I ask for a cupcake box, which holds 30 cupcakes," she says. "It's just a plain old paper cake box with an insert inside with holes." Another tip Fabregas uses is to bake cupcakes in paper holders and group them in her biggest casserole dish for an easy, one-stop frost-and-carry method. Fabregas also suggests using a pastry bag to frost cupcakes. "Then you're not trying to place cupcakes in a carrier from the top and getting your fingers in the frosting."
Many companies offer cake carriers with a lid and handle, much like cupcake carriers, for both rectangular and round cakes. Cake-decorating company Wilton makes a round cake dome with three locking latches to ensure your goodies aren't going anywhere you don't want them to. "If you are going to take a cake with you somewhere, regardless of how you're getting it there, put a glob of frosting on the cake plate before setting it in the carrier," says Fabregas. The frosting acts like a glue, providing extra insurance for nonskid travel.
Whether you're bringing your own homemade ice cream or trying to get store-bought goodies to the party on time, knowing how to keep cold stuff frosty is crucial. Fabregas suggests nesting an ice cream-filled container inside a large ice bucket filled with ice. Uncommon Goods sells a cute insulated ice cream carrier that doubles as a portable sundae bar, complete with room for sprinkles and other toppings. Or, to skip the hassle altogether, have your fave flavors of ice cream shipped to the party via Ice Cream Source.
Practice Safe Serving
Follow food safety rules when transporting and serving any homemade or baked goods. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service provides online food safety information. Here are some of their tips.
- The Two-Hour Rule: Foods shouldn't sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Numbers to Remember: Keep hot foods at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer and cold foods at 40 degrees or cooler.
- Use Eggs Safely: To avoid the risk of salmonella infection, use either in-shell pasteurized eggs or pasteurized egg products when making frosting or ice cream.