At first blush, the cupcake toppers in Lynlee North Beckett's book "Sweet and Unique Cupcake Toppers" look impossibly detailed and impractical to replicate. Then, she breaks them into bite-size pieces.
Beckett includes a legend with each topper that tells the baker whether it's a difficulty level for a beginner, an experienced decorator or an advanced cupcake maker with time to burn.
She adds five options for each kind of decoration: simplify, accentuate, personalize, expand and decorate and display.
For example, a busy mom trying to add some glitz and fun to a birthday party for a 3-year-old won't feel as though she has to make a monkey for 32 cupcakes. Rather, she can do a few and put bananas and jungle vines on the rest.
Beckett has thought of everything based on her experience working with fondant decorations and really good cupcake recipes.
The pictures she's included spell out in detail what she's teaching the reader to make: pirates, bunny rabbits with only the tail sticking up in one cupcake, tennis shoes and a soccer ball, lovebugs, a reindeer caught in a string of lights, chicks, circus elephants and a snowball penguin.
Everything is precious and clever and awe-inspiring.
It opens up a whole new world of ideas for those who don't want to settle for a plain, frosted cupcake or pay a gourmet price for something more.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.