Imagine a situation where you have made too many cupcakes. One option is to give them away to friends and family. But you might want to keep the fruits of your labor to enjoy later, so you will need a way to store them. Your best choices to keep them fresh will depend on how long you need to store them.
Keeping Cupcakes Fresh for Two Days
If you can reasonably use the cupcakes within two days, then you are golden. If you were planning to add a frosting that required refrigeration, hold off on frosting them until you are ready to serve them, or within two days.
Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack, which should take at least an hour. The wire rack allows the bottom to cool as well as the sides and top. If they are still warm they will continue to release steam, which can make the cupcake tops sticky when you want to frost them. Place them in a plastic storage bag or airtight container and simply keep them at room temperature. They will maintain their freshness as long as they are not allowed to lose moisture or are subjected to swings in temperature.
If you've stored cupcakes at room temperature and discover the top is sticky, making it difficult to frost, allow them to sit uncovered for an hour to dry out a bit. Piping on the frosting rather than using a knife will also help keep the top intact.
Don't Refrigerate Your Cupcakes
Resist the temptation to store cupcakes in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life beyond two days. Cupcakes stored in a refrigerator will dry out. In fact, placing cupcakes in the refrigerator speeds crystallization in the sugar and flour, making the cupcakes go stale fast. The only time you may want to consider placing cupcakes in the refrigerator is for a frosting emergency—if the frosting is melting rapidly. This can happen more often in the summer or in warmer climates.
However, if your cupcakes have a filling or frosting made with dairy, eggs, or custard, they must be refrigerated for food safety.
Although the refrigerator is a bad choice for storing cupcakes, the freezer is very effective for cupcake storage. If the cupcakes have no frosting on them, stack the cupcakes in a 16-ounce freezer bag. You can fit about a dozen in one of those freezer bags. The trick is to place cupcakes in the freezer where they will not get crushed or smashed by heavier items. If the cupcakes have a lot of frosting on top, then you may want to put the cupcakes individually in small plastic freezer bags.
When you are ready to eat the cupcakes, take them out of the freezer and remove them from any wrappings to let them defrost on a plate or cupcake stand. If you don't remove the wrappings, they can become gooey and the top can pull away once defrosted. Do not use a microwave or an oven to defrost them. The frozen cupcakes will be defrosted in about two hours.
Use Frozen Cupcakes for Deep Fried Cupcakes
An alternative use of frozen cupcakes is to coat them in prepared pancake batter and deep fry them in a deep fryer or skillet with oil at 375 F. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder on the cupcakes. Place them directly on a baking rack to cool. Eat and enjoy!