Service Members Overseas Just Want Cupcakes!

Baking By jmchao Updated 19 Jan 2016 , 8:59am by Pastrybaglady

jmchao Posted 30 May 2011 , 6:52pm
post #1 of 21

I have a close, dear friend who is overseas right now. She's been there nearly a month and she said that sure, they have cakes and cookies in the galley. However, they aren't very flavorful or moist-that's what happens I guess when you try to bake/cook for hundreds of people daily with limited access to products like we have here. She's in Iraq right now...

Anyhow, she said she really just wants some yummy cupcakes. She also mentioned that candy tends to be all melted by the time they get their care packages, so much of it get thrown out, unless it's something hardy like Twizzlers or something of that nature.

So, I was thinking, and was hoping for some of your expert suggestions...

I'd like to make up some cupcakes and send them out there. My plan is this: Make the cupcakes, but don't ice them. Somehow figure out how to securely ship them so that as the box gets all tossed around, they hold at least enough of their shape to resemble a cupcake.

Then, make some icing, probably shortening based so it doesn't arrive in a puddle of mush. Package it separately in a container. Send along with some disposable bags and tips and let them go to town on their own. She does have a small fridge in her room, so even if she needed to firm up the icing some, she could toss it in the fridge for a bit before using it.

Any ideas for some simple, yet tasty combinations that could survive heading overseas? I'm thinking something more original than just a vanilla icing on yellow cake...but when it comes to flavor combinations, I'm not so creative!

Any thoughts or ideas for some hardy flavor combinations that I can package up and send their way? Thanks in advance!!

20 replies
Texas_Rose Posted 30 May 2011 , 9:09pm
post #2 of 21

That's a sweet idea, but cupcakes seem to dry out really fast, so it would really depend on how fast they could get there. Even shortening based icing will melt when it's hot enough outside too. You might have to settle for sending some sugar cookies, and just promise her some cupcakes when she gets back.

Paperfishies Posted 31 May 2011 , 2:41am
post #4 of 21

I "adopted" a solider in iraq last year and the packages of stuff I sent him (magazines, crossword puzzles, lotions, canned soups, etc) took about 10-14 days to get to him.

Something to keep in mind when sending fresh baked goods over there.

Scubabe Posted 16 Jun 2011 , 11:34am
post #5 of 21

I have a friend in Afghanistan right now, and he too misses homemade cakes and cupcakes. However, as mail takes ~10 days to reach him, when I tried to send cake it was horrible by the time it got to him. I was able to successfully send fruit cake, banana bread (mine is full of rum so I think this helped it hold up well to travelling), and chocolate brownies.

I wouldn't recommend cupcakes, they dry out even faster than regular cakes.
Any chance she could get friendly with the kitchen crew and you could send her a cake mix and cupcake pan and she could flutter her eyelashes at a passing cook and get her cuppies baked for her in the mess?

SS385Monte Posted 16 Jun 2011 , 12:35pm
post #6 of 21

Check out It's a group that sends homemade goodies over on a regular basis. You might be able to get some good pointers from them. If you nominate her you may be able to get her bombarded with goodies. icon_smile.gif

matthewkyrankelly Posted 16 Jun 2011 , 12:44pm
post #7 of 21

Wonderful idea to get baked goods to the troops! Very thoughtful.

Please be careful with the cupcake in a jar idea that Icee pointed to.

This is not even close to canning or food preservation . If you read the thread there is a great article on food borne illness associated with that. Don't want to get anyone sick.

mplaidgirl2 Posted 16 Jun 2011 , 12:51pm
post #8 of 21

I sent a friend a 'Birthday in a box' kit.

I sent uniced cupcakes...
I put the icing in disposable piping bags
Packaged the icing with dry ice.

I overnighted it (kinda expensive) but it all got there fine.

I added little containers of different sprinkles
Party hats, part table cloth, candles.
I have to see if I can find the picture

mplaidgirl2 Posted 16 Jun 2011 , 12:59pm
post #9 of 21

I found it! I put a piece of wax paper over the cupcakes then filled the rest of the container with tissue paper.

Jenniferkay Posted 16 Jun 2011 , 1:32pm
post #10 of 21

What about packaging the cupcakes uniced in a box and double saran. Then froze. Then packed and shipped. I would think maybe the moisture would be contained in the package? Then ship along bags of icing that all they had to do was snip the tip. Just an idea.

jmchao Posted 17 Jun 2011 , 6:51pm
post #11 of 21

Thanks, everyone, for the great ideas! You all touched on my primary fresh would they really be when they got there? I can't overnight them; that would only get them to New York faster, but from there, it's in the military's hands. I just wish there was a way to help them feel a bit more "at home" while so far away.

maggles Posted 17 Jun 2011 , 7:13pm
post #12 of 21

Maybe a dumb suggestion, but could you vacuum seal them with a FoodSaver or something?

Of course, now I have visions of them being smooshed flat in the vacuum sealing process ha.

imagenthatnj Posted 17 Jun 2011 , 7:23pm
post #13 of 21

Big cakeballs/cakepops? Since they're covered in chocolate, they'll stay moist?

maggles Posted 17 Jun 2011 , 7:27pm
post #14 of 21

The chocolate will melt over there this time of year, so I don't think that would work.

CakesBySandy Posted 17 Jun 2011 , 7:52pm
post #15 of 21

I just heard from my nephew who was deployed last month. It takes two weeks for them to receive shipments. Do no send anything that will melt. Your best bet is to send cookies such as oatmeal, sugar, snicker doodles, etc. Do not send anything with chocolate chips if you do make cookies.

rpaige Posted 17 Jun 2011 , 7:58pm
post #16 of 21

I sent numerous mini rum cakes over seas. Just used the little mini loaf pans. I think it must have been the rum that kept everything moist - or at least somewhat moist. I wrapped the little mini loafs in plastic wrap, inserted several loafs in a larger sturdy gallon baggie, put that whole package in a large plastic coffee can (I think it was Folgers), put duct tape around the can and shipped. The rum cakes can be heavy so consider the postage. The package is going to sit on several hot runways and decks for many days so most everything is going to melt or leak. If it leaks, they will toss it - not sure they are supposed to but they do.

My friend did something similar but she used cheap dime store cookies to insulate her better package of home baked goods. She knew the cookies would be a crumbled mess but it protected her baked product.

Good for you to help our troops! Good luck and happy shipping!

1Cake-At-ATime Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 7:36am
post #17 of 21

CakesbySandy is right about the shipping. I married to AD AF and have been overseas for the past six years... inbound shipping time can range from 3 months to two weeks. Longer during the summer months.

When he was down range Iraq, it was a whole month before he received care packages. Not to mention the high temperatures melted just about everything. He would call me livid about how many packages were just sitting out of the flight line in the sun ruining their stuff sent from family.

Also, express shipping is only up until it hits New York (where all APO, FPO) then the packages are but on a rotater to Germany (where all mail pitstops) and then to the down range location.

I would recommend the cake in the jar with the frosting packed with dry ice.

I love supporting the troops down range. Some of them are new young airmen who are scared and care packages are a mental lifeline.

SammieB Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 3:06pm
post #18 of 21
Originally Posted by matthewkyrankelly

Wonderful idea to get baked goods to the troops! Very thoughtful.

Please be careful with the cupcake in a jar idea that Icee pointed to.

This is not even close to canning or food preservation . If you read the thread there is a great article on food borne illness associated with that. Don't want to get anyone sick.

I know if you justv place cake in a jar with the lid it won't seal. But what about actually baking the cake in the serilized jars, and putting lids on immediately out of the oven? Then it should seal as it cools, much like canning. Especially if it bakes up close to the mouth. Would that still be considered dangerous?

Deberlee Posted 19 Jan 2016 , 1:38am
post #19 of 21

I sent my granddaughter 6  "cakes in a jar"   It is like canning a cake (make sure seal takes) and the commercial frosting in a can.  Now I know that isn't always the best tasting frosting, , but I felt it was the way to make sure it would not spoil and I did not have to pay for the extra weight of dry ice.   I also sent the plastic  decorating tip  kits, extra plastic decorating bags, ,  a box of quart zip lock bags, sprinkles, themed table cloth, plates, napkins,  hats,  noise makers, and "goody bags" with gum, skittles ( her favorite) , and silly toys including a plastic compass.  They were able to slide the cake out of the jar and slice them  into 3 pieces , so there were 18 nearly cupcake size servings to share.  She said they had a blast celebrating her birthday.  I was able to send all of this in 3 large flat rate boxes which cost me a total of less than $40. ( I think at that time if shipping for the military, the large flat rate was $12 a box)  Well worth the effort and costs to make some of our "kids" happy and let them know we are thinking of them and love them.  

OHaresTstyTrts Posted 19 Jan 2016 , 2:15am
post #20 of 21

I baked a "cake" once and mailed it downrange and it was a success! It was during the summer too! I baked a brownie cake and covered it in royal icing. I figured the royal icing would act as cap and keep it fresh. I was told it tasted just like it was freshly baked. The royal icing held up against the heat and the 10 day journey. It was a darth vader cake for birthday. I tried inserting a picture but it's not letting me. If I can get it to work, I will post it.

Pastrybaglady Posted 19 Jan 2016 , 8:59am
post #21 of 21

How about freezing un-iced cupcakes and then vacuum sealing them?  That way they will hold their shape and have a better chance of still being fresh after they are shipped.  The icing would have to be shortening based and could also be vacuum packed sent with a plastic piping tips and sprinkles.  I do have a friend who baked chocolate kalua cakes in mason jars, closed them while still hot and she said they sealed really well.  The cakes easily kept for weeks and were very fresh and moist when finally opened.

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