Benjamin Wood
September 16, 2011 AT 06:01 PM EDT

Even though their forthcoming book Cupcakes, Cookies, & Pie, Oh, My! extends their special creative style to all types of desserts, Karen Tack and Alan Richardson still refer to their practice as the catch-all “cupcaking.”

“We just decided to take the whole decorative approach and put it on everything,” Richardson said during a hands-on demo in New York City on Thursday.

The new book — third in the 20-year-strong duo’s sweet-tooth series that includes the bestselling Hello, Cupcake and What’s New, Cupcake? — won’t hit shelves until January, but many of the new creations were on display Thursday. Richardson seemed particularly excited about their candy clay, a mixture of chocolate morsels and caro syrup that has the pliable consistency of play-doh without sacrificing deliciousness or having the heavy-handed richness of most fondants.

Many of the more ornate treats fall under the intimidating “too pretty to eat” category. I was impressed — and tempted — by the life-size rice crispy treat skateboard and the puppy dog made out of pound cake, but I would never dare to make the first slice into it at a party. On the other hand, the representation of Monet’s Water Lilies, leafy white cupcakes “floating” in a dish of blue gelatin, and “Nacho Normal Cheesecake,” a sweet chips and salsa confection made of pie crusts, lemon cheesecake, and sugary toppings, made for a double-take visual surprise and an accessible treat.

The nachos were, by far, my favorite. It prompted an ingredients guessing-game exchange with Richardson — it turns out they used Swedish Fish and strawberry jam for the salsa and sliced Crows candy for olives — and an internal struggle between me and my conscience over whether I could justify seconds. Sadly, I lost.

Watch for the book, and its accompanying app, early next year.

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