Dainty Dogwood Cupcakes

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Dainty Dogwood Cupcakes

Dainty Dogwood Cupcakes

One of my favorite trees is the Dogwood tree.  They have the most beautiful delicate blossoms and I love seeing them in bloom.  Even though the gorgeous blossoms will only last for so long, you can enjoy these dainty Dogwood cupcakes year round!  These little chocolate Dogwood blossoms are the perfect size for topping a cupcake, and floral decorations work for so many different occasions.  I think these would be lovely with white frosting for a rustic wedding cupcake tower.  As always I am a big fan of making chocolate decorations because they are tasty and can be made in advance, so on the days leading up to to your event all you have to worry about is perfecting your cupcake recipe and frosting.

Supplies

Supplies

Here are the supplies I used to make the Dogwood chocolates. The candy coatings shown are Wilton Vibrant Green candy melts, and Clasen Brite White confectionery coating.

Dogwood blossom centers

Dogwood blossom centers

I used a small squeeze bottle to fill in the centers of the blossoms.  Squeezit mold painter bottles are small squeeze bottles with very tiny tips.  I love these bottles for painting small details on a mold.  They are also great for writing with candy coating or chocolate.

Dainty Dogwood Blossom Centers

Dainty Dogwood Blossom Centers

Give the centers about 10 minutes to dry at room temperature before filling in the rest of the mold with white candy coating.  Depending on the temperature, the drying time may vary, but if you are in a hurry, you can always pop the molds in the refrigerator for a few minutes until the centers are set to the touch.

Filling the molds

Filling the molds

I use a regular squeeze bottle to fill the molds.  I also find that it really reduces bubbles if you keep your squeeze bottle upside down while you are working.  To do this, you need a small cup, like the baby cup I am using, to keep the squeeze bottle resting upside down.

Dogwood mold

Dogwood mold

Try not to overfill the molds.  In this case it is better to underfill the mold.  If you’re not sure how much chocolate to use, fill just one cavity of the mold and then tap out the bubbles to see where you’re at.

Tapping the molds

Tapping the molds

Tap the molds until air bubbles stop rising to the surface.  You can also take a look at the mold from the bottom to see if most of the visible air bubbles and pockets have been eliminated.

Dainty Dogwood Chocolates

Dainty Dogwood Chocolates

Here are the chocolates just out of the mold.

Orchid Luster Dust

Orchid Luster Dust

I had a few different shades of luster dust to try out.  This Orchid Pink is pretty, but wasn’t quite the right color.

Petal Dust

Petal Dust

This Wilton Ruby Red Pearl Dust was just right! I simple brushed it on with a dry coarse brush to accent the edges of the blossoms.

Dainty Dogwood Chocolates

Dainty Dogwood Chocolates

These little flowers remind me of Spring! I had some green luster and color dusts, but didn’t end up using them because the green was vibrant enough on its own.

Dainty Dogwood Blossom

Dainty Dogwood Blossom

Just a hint of peachy pink really makes these blossoms pop.

Dogwood Cupcakes

Dogwood Cupcakes

 


Pink and Black Dessert Table

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Pink and Black Dessert Bar

Pink and Black Dessert Bar

Dessert bars are so much fun, I knew I couldn’t resist when my friend, Amanda, told me she wanted one for her 30th birthday.  I was completely sold on it once she told me the colors were hot pink and black! This was the first dessert table I had ever done, so I put a lot of time into baking and planning.

Pink and Black Dessert Bar

Pink and Black Dessert Bar

The party was held at my friend’s tasting room, Malm Cellars, so I knew I would need to transport all of the desserts and items for setup.  Creating a dessert table requires a lot of coordinating, and having some store bought items can make things a bit easier.

Dessert Bar

Dessert Bar

Lucky for me, there were a wide variety of store bought candies and confections that fit the pink and black color scheme.  I purchased pink snowballs, black jelly beans, Good and Plenty candy, black and white ribbon candy, black licorice, white mini meringues, pink stripe candy sticks, white fudge covered pretzels, pink and white ice candy, white nonpareil gumdrops, pink rock candy, M&Ms (in pink, black, and white), black and white peppermints, and pink button candy.

Snowballs

Snowballs

The items that I made were chocolate covered cheesecake hearts, mini pink velvet cupcakes, mini pink macarons, and pink rice krispy treats.

Truffles

Truffles

If you are running short on items, you can always wrap truffles in tissue and tie with a bow that coordinates with your color scheme.

Button Candy

Button Candy

I love the button candy because the little dots really pop and make such a cute display.  I just cut the pink portion from a rainbow strip of button candy and then used tape to secure it into a roll. The stacked rolls add a lot of visual interest.

Cheesecake Hearts

Cheesecake Hearts

The cheesecake hearts are a crowd pleaser and I am always looking for desserts on sticks because they add height to the dessert table.  Whether it’s cake pops, cookie pops, pie pops, or cheesecake pops like these, I like to include at least one “pop” item on every dessert table.

Candy in apothecary jars

Candy in apothecary jars

Apothecary jars filled with colorful candies are a great addition to any dessert table.  Getting enough candy to fill the containers can be pricey and one way around this is to make some of the items or fill the jars with large items that take up a lot of space.  I love to include rice krispy treats in my dessert tables because people really do love them (they are almost always gone first), and you can make them in any color just by adding food coloring to the melted marshmallows. You can also cut them into different shapes and sizes using a cookie cutter sprayed with non-stick spray.

Candy

Candy

The mini pink velvet cupcakes are a smaller version of my pretty n punk cupcakes.  They are frosted with vanilla buttercream and topped with black sugar pearls.  I still love Bella Cupcake Couture cupcake wraps, and these are the mini version of their Lu Lu Damask Black and White wrapper.

Dessert Bar

Dessert Bar

You may want to consider offering some gluten free or sugar free items for people with dietary restrictions.  The french macarons are made with almond flour so they are perfect for gluten free guests.  Also rice kripy treats, meringues, and most hard candies and jelly beans are gluten free.

Mini pink velvet cupcakes

Mini pink velvet cupcakes

Here are some photos of the dessert bar items in the making.  I use sheets of shelf liner cut to fit my baking sheets to prevent the cupcakes from sliding around.

Chocolate Cheesecake Hearts

Chocolate Cheesecake Hearts

Chocolate covered cheesecake is not only delicious, but also easy to store.  I freeze these pops and store them between sheets of parchment paper in plastic ziploc containers right up until the event.  They thaw very quickly and some people prefer the taste of them frozen!

Sparkly macaron tops

Sparkly macaron tops

I just love these sparkly macaron tops! Pipe your macarons and then dust with a sprinkling of hot pink sanding sugar to get this effect. All these sweets are making me hungry!

Dessert Table from the top

Dessert Table from the top

Amanda had a great birthday, and the guests enjoyed overdosing on sugar, so I think my first dessert bar was a success.  I had a fun time with it, and I hope you had fun taking a look.  I am always looking for new ideas and items to include, and would love to hear any of your dessert bar tips, tricks, and adventures!


Pirate Cupcake Kit

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Pirate Cupcakes

Pirate Cupcakes

Throwing a pirate party, but too busy to make a cake?  This pirate cupcake kit is the answer! Pirate parties are so much fun, and if you are short on time cupcake kits can make your party a cinch!  Meri Meri has a whole line of cupcake kits, and this is one of my favorites.  When I am in a pinch, and need a cute cupcake solution, these cupcake kits are my go-to.  I made these cupcakes for my nephew’s second birthday.

Meri Meri Pirate Cupcake Kit

Meri Meri Pirate Cupcake Kit

The kit comes with 24 baking cups and 24 assorted toppers.  As usual, I love the polka dot baking cups in this set, and because they are black, the colors are still bright even after baking!  The parrot, pirate ship, pirate hat, and pirate flag toppers are too cute!  My favorite is the bright parrot in a pirate hat.

Cupcake toppers and baking cups

Cupcake toppers and baking cups

This kits makes it super simple to throw together a party fit for a pirate in no time.  If you are too busy to bake, you can just purchase cupcakes at the store and set them in the baking cups from the kit.  Then pop on the toppers and you are set for a marvelous party for all of your mateys.

Pirate Flag Cupcake

Pirate Flag Cupcake

These cupcakes are frosted in yellow buttercream.  I used AmeriColor lemon yellow to get this shade.

Parrot Cupcake

Parrot Cupcake

The parrot with the eye-patch is so fun.  All of the Meri Meri cupcake kits have really unique and detailed toppers that set them apart from other cupcake kits.

Pirate Ship Cupcake

Pirate Ship Cupcake

The cupcake stand is actually a Halloween cupcake stand from Wilton.  I just left off the haunted house topper, and it worked perfectly for this pirate party.  I hope you have as much fun with this cupcake kit as I did.  Whether you are throwing a pirate party or just looking for a fun baking project to do with your kids, this kit is the perfect thing!

Parrot cupcakes on stand

Parrot cupcakes on stand


St. Patty’s Day Frogs

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Leprechaun Frog Cupcakes

St. Patty’s Day Frog Cupcakes

Long ago there was a bakery in downtown Santa Rosa called Burlington Bakery, and every year my mom would go there around St. Patrick’s Day and get us these fun, delicious little frog cupcakes.  Seeing those little Leprechaun frogs with tiny hats was always the highlight of my St. Patrick’s Day.  The fact that they looked too good to eat, but tasted delicious was part of the fun.  When Burlington Bakery went out of business I missed the frogs terribly.  Once I got a bit older, I decided that I should make these frogs and share them as my St. Patrick’s Day tradition.  The great thing about these frog cupcakes is that they don’t need to be perfect.  A few warts or lumps here and there just give them character, and they are guaranteed to light up the eyes of the little leprechauns in your lives!

Cupcakes cooling

Baked Cupcakes

Start with your favorite cupcake flavor.  Anything will work.  I usually go with chocolate or vanilla, since those are the original flavors that the bakery made.

Cupcakes and frosting

Pink frosting and cupcakes

Take the wrappers off of your cupcakes and turn them upside down on a baking rack.  Make a half recipe of Decorator’s Buttercream Icing (see recipe below). This buttercream icing recipe is so delicious and easy to work with.  It is my favorite crusting buttercream recipe and I give a big thank you to Toba Garrett, an amazing cake decorator and baker, who graciously allowed me to post this recipe from her book Professional Cake Decorating. If you don’t already have this book, go out and get it.  Toba is such an inspirational decorator and the book contains so much invaluable information including tips, tricks, techniques, and recipes for gorgeous cake decorating.  In case you can’t tell, I am a BIG fan!

Dollup of frosting

Frosting on cupcakes

A bit of Americolor deep pink gel paste will give you this shade of pink.  I use a 56 mm batter scoop to get a dollup of frosting and place it on top of the upside down cupcake.  If you don’t have a batter scoop, use a 1/4 cup.

Smooth frosting

Smoothing the frosting

Next use a small offset spatula to smooth out the frosting and make a rounded shape for the frog’s head.  Don’t get carried away with this, the frogs don’t need to be completely smooth to be cute!

Icing for frogs

Poured Green Icing

Now make the icing to cover the frogs.  This is a very simple poured icing.  The recipe is as follows -

Sift one 2-lb bag of confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar) into a large bowl

Add 1/2 cup plus 3 tsp room temperature water

Add 1/2 tsp Americolor leaf green gel paste

Mix using a handheld electric mixer until all ingredients are fully incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl as you go to make sure everything is combined.  The icing will be thick like a paste.

Spoon with icing

Icing spoon

Use a large spoon to pour the icing over the frogs.

Pouring the icing

Pouring the icing

Pour a large spoonful of the icing directly onto the top of the cupcake in a circular motion.

 

Icing dripping

Icing dripping

Don’t try to cover the cupcake completely using the spoon.  Just let the icing flow down and it should eventually cover the entire cupcake.

Iced frog cupcakes

Iced frogs

These green blobs could make cute slime monsters. Now that you have the frogs covered you want to let the icing set for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Increased humidity will slow the drying time.  The icing is dry if it does not show a fingerprint when you touch it.

Chocolate Hat Brims

Chocolate Hat Brims

In the meantime, you can make the chocolate hats. To do this, melt about 8 ounces of milk chocolate wafers and spread the chocolate onto a Silpat using an offset spatula.  Wait until the chocolate changes from shiny to matte (this happens quickly) and then use the wrong side (largest circle) of a Wilton 1A tip to cut out the hat brims.

Rolo Hats

Hats made of Rolos

Rolos were the perfect candy for making these hats. The original frogs had plastic hats, but I wanted my frogs to be completely edible.

Constructing Rolo Hats

Hats made with Rolos

Use a tiny bit of melted chocolate to stick the Rolo to the hat brim.

Tropical Tie-Dye Fruit Roll-Ups

Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-ups

I used Betty Crocker Tropical Tie-Dye Fruit Roll-ups to make the bands of the hats.  I was looking for solid yellow fruit roll-ups, but all I could find was a variety pack with some cartoon characters printed directly onto the roll-up.  I cut the fruit roll-ups into strips using a pizza cutter and a ruler. Just a warning on these fruit roll-ups – they are super sticky and not that easy to work with.  I thought I was saving myself some time by using a store bought product, but coloring and rolling fondant may actually be easier.  I do like the thickness of the roll-ups and they stick to the hats easily without any icing or chocolate.

St. Patty's Day Chocolate Hats

St. Patty’s Day Chocolate Hats

Using a toothpick and some melted chocolate, I added a little shamrock sprinkle to each hat for some extra flair.

Frog cupcake mouth

Cutting the mouth of the frog

Now that the cupcakes are dry, it is time to make the mouths.  To do this, use an x-acto knife and cut a small smiling mouth for each frog.

Pink frosting smile

Pink frosting smile

Remove the green icing cutout to reveal a pink frosting smile!

Smiling frogs

Smiling frogs

Once the frogs have their smiles, they really start to take shape fast!

Frog cupcakes with eyes

Frog cupcakes with eyes

Use a toothpick and tiny bit of melted chocolate to stick on the eyes.  These eyes are store bought.  I found them at my local Target store.

Frogs with Hats

St. Patrick’s Day Frogs with Hats

Next use a bit of chocolate to stick on your hat, and maybe place your froggy in a pretty cupcake liner.

Happy Frog St. Patty's Day Cupcakes

Leprechaun Cupcakes

Finally, share your St. Patty’s Day frog cupcakes with all the lucky lads and lasses in your life.  You are sure to brighten their day by presenting them with a happy smiling frog this St. Patty’s Day!

Decorator’s Buttercream Icing
Author: 
 
This is a delicious crusting buttercream recipe that is perfect for piping, as well as frosting cupcakes and cakes.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • 8 oz solid vegetable shortening or high ratio shortening
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 lb confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp meringue powder, sifted
  • 4-1/2 fl oz heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Place the butter and shortening in the mixer bowl and mix on medium-high speed with a paddle attachment for 3 minutes. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream for an additional 60 seconds.
  2. Add the vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Gradually add the sugar, then the meringue powder. The mixture will appear dry.
  3. Add the liquid and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 5 to 8 minutes. Once the buttercream is made, keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
  4. Store the icing in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
Notes
This is my favorite crusting buttercream recipe! Toba Garrett, an amazing cake decorator and baker, graciously allowed me to feature this recipe from her book Professional Cake Decorating. Thank you Toba!

 


Baking Cup Comparison

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Baking Cup Comparison

Three Cupcakes

If you’re like me, you get excited when you see a super cute baking cup! I have polka dots, paisleys, zebra print, striped, colored foil, and even though I have stacks and stacks of baking cups, if a cute pattern or color catches my eye, I simply must have it.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s an addiction, but you could call it a habit.  Luckily it isn’t a very expensive habit to have, but with baking cups ranging from $2 to $7 a package, it can add up.  One thing that has driven me crazy about baking cups is when the following happens – You have the cutest most lovely baking cup that is going to be the perfect party accent and ties in with everything beautifully and you know it will just make your cupcake pop, you put the baking cups in the pan, fill them with batter, bake, and when you pull the cupcakes out of the pan you find that your super cute baking cup is completely unrecognizable.  You can no longer discern the original color, or pattern, and all of the colors are muted and confused!  Disaster!  Have you ever had this happen to you?  What is the point of having fabulous baking cups if the process of baking the cupcakes ruins them!  I promise to get to the bottom of this problem once and for all!

Cupcake Case Comparison

Baking Cups

There is a baking cup line out on the market now called ColorCups.  This line is manufactured by Wilton and guarantees that colors will remain bright on the outside even after baking.  The slogan on the package describes ColorCups as “Always bright, colorful, and fun!” I decided I would put these supposedly super powered baking cups to the test! I decided to test them against a regular baking cup and see what the results were.

Empty ColorCup Baking Cup

Empty Rainbow Dots ColorCup

Empty Polka Dot Fairy Case

Empty Polka Dot Cupcake Case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a look at the inside of the ColorCup baking cup, you can see that it is actually foil. Of course a foil lined baking cup!  The foil makes a barrier between the grease and oil from the cupcake protecting the pretty outside liner! Brilliant!  Once I saw this, I had high hopes for these new baking cups.  The baking cup on the right is just a standard no frills baking cup.  Because I already knew that the standard plain baking cup would probably not fare well against this new hybrid ColorCup baking cup, I decided to throw a third cupcake liner into the mix.  I used a standard polka dot baking cup lined with a Reynolds foil baking cup.  I wanted to see if I could make a DIY ColorCup by adding a foil liner to any old baking cup.

Reynolds Foil Baking Case

Reynolds Foil Cupcake Liner

Standard Baking Cup Lined with Reynolds Foil

Standard Baking Cup Lined with Reynolds Foil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I baked all of the cupcakes at the same time, in the same pan, with the same batter so that there would be no other variables.

Baking Cup Comparison

Baking Cup Comparison

I intentionally used baking cups with white backgrounds since the bleed through shows up best on baking cups with light backgrounds, and I know from previous experience that dark colored batters such as chocolate show through on a lot of baking cups, so I used chocolate for the “worst case scenario.”

Chocolate Batter

Chocolate Batter in Pan

Chocolate Cupcakes

Baked Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the moment I took the cupcakes out of the pan, the results were obvious.  There was a clear winner!  The Wilton ColorCup had prevailed!

ColorCup Cupcake

Cupcake in Wilton ColorCup Baking Cup

The standard baking cup was the biggest loser!  The polka dots were completely lost and the brown from the chocolate of the cupcake became the prominent color.

Cupcake in Standard Polka Dot Baking Case

Cupcake in Standard Polka Dot Baking Liner

The standard baking cup lined with the Reynolds foil baking cup came in second.  The polka dot baking cup was still vibrant and colorful with no grease seep through or color mutation, but the liner still pulled away from the cupcake since it was not actually attached to the foil liner.

Cupcake in Standard Baking Cup Lined with Reynolds Foil Cup

Cupcake in Standard Baking Cup Lined with Reynolds Foil Cup

You have to hand it to the Wilton ColorCup; it really is a revolutionary thing to be able to bake a cupcake and still have a perfectly bright and pretty liner!  One of the keys to the ColorCup design is that the foil lining is adhered to the pretty paper exterior liner.  While the standard baking cup lined with the Reynolds foil baking cup came in second, you could tell that the cupcake had two separate liners.  The space between the paper and the foil is visible making the overall cupcake just slightly less attractive.  In some scenarios, if you are going for a ruffled look, this could be preferable, but overall the ColorCup wins.

Baking Cup Comparison

Baking Cup Comparison

The answer to this baking cup problem that has plagued bakers endlessly has been solved! If you need a perfectly dressed cupcake, use a foil lined baking cup.  In addition to Wilton ColorCups, Reynolds has a similar line called Reynolds StayBrite baking cups.  Hopefully other baking cup manufacturers will follow suit so that we will have a wider array of designs to chose from.  In the meantime, I need to start stocking up on more baking cups!!!


Peter Rabbit Cupcakes

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Peter Rabbit Cupcakes

Peter Rabbit Cupcakes

Here comes Peter Rabbit pushing a wheelbarrow full of carrots from Mr. McGregor’s garden. These Peter Rabbit Cupcake Kits and Cupcake Holders by Meri Meri will brighten your Easter and bring you back to your childhood and the wonderful world of Beatrix Potter.

Peter Rabbit and Wheelbarrow

Peter Rabbit and Wheelbarrow

Do you remember Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and Tom Kitten?  These adorable cupcakes will remind you of all your favorite Beatrix Potter tales, and if you’re not yet a fan maybe you will bake up a batch of these delightful cupcakes and become inspired to begin reading Beatrix Potter’s beautifully illustrated classics.

Peter Rabbit Up Close

Peter Rabbit Up Close

These Peter Rabbit cupcake holders are designed as little wheelbarrows. They are very simple to put together and each wheelbarrow holds one cupcake.

Peter Rabbit and Friends

Peter Rabbit and Friends

Each cupcake pick features a different Peter Rabbit character.

Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit

Use tip 4B to pipe the decorations on each cupcake. My friend Grace had the brilliant idea to use orange sugar pearls at the center of each flower.

Benjamin Bunny

Benjamin Bunny

Egg yellow gel paste is used to color the frosting on these cupcakes. Use about one-quarter teaspoon per 4 cups of frosting to get this shade.

Jemima Puddle-Duck

Jemima Puddle-Duck

You will need about four cups of frosting to decorate 12 cupcakes using tip 4B.

Tom Kitten

Tom Kitten

Jelly beans, sugar pearls, and orange carrots can be used for added color!

Decorating Supplies

Decorating Supplies

For perfectly sized cupcakes, use a batter scoop to fill your baking cups. I use one level scoop per cupcake.

Ready to Bake!

Ready to Bake!

Even the cupcake cases have Beatrix Potter Characters decorating them.

Cupcake Tip 4B

Cupcake Tip 4B

Begin by piping from the center outward using tip 4B.

Fully Piped Cupcake

Fully Piped Cupcake

Continue all the way around until the cupcake is completely covered.

Placing the Sugar Pearls

Placing the Sugar Pearls

Use tweezers to place each sugar pearl. Then carefully push down using your finger.

Piping Grass onto the Cupcake

Piping Grass onto the Cupcake

Use grass tip 233 to pipe the blades of grass. Layer the tufts of grass for a full look. Sprinkle with carrots.

Grass Cupcakes with Carrots

Grass Cupcakes with Carrots

To get this shade of green frosting, add one quarter teaspoon avocado gel paste, 3 drops leaf green gel paste, and one drop mint green gel paste per 2 cups of frosting.

Name Tags

Name Tags

Print up name tags and stick them to toothpicks to personalize your Peter Rabbit cupcakes.

Jelly Bean Cupcake

Jelly Bean Cupcake

If you are having an Easter party or family get together, these Peter Rabbit cupcake holders will make your table extra special.  Use your Peter Rabbit cupcake holders as place cards, and each guest will get their own special treat!

Row of Rabbits

Row of Rabbits

Put your Peter Rabbit cupcakes on parade or display them on cake stands for a dazzling centerpiece.

Cupcakes on Cake Stands

Cupcakes on Cake Stands


Haunted Forest Cupcakes

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Haunted Forest Cupcakes

Haunted Forest Cupcakes

Create a petrified forest full of spooky trees and plump pumpkins. These Haunted Forest Cupcakes are sure to please this Halloween.

Supplies

Supplies

Begin with black baking cups, haunted tree suckers, Bundt bon bon pumpkins, and a pastry bag filled with blue frosting.

Blue Frosted Cupcakes

Blue Frosted Cupcakes

Use Americolor Royal Blue gel paste to tint your frosting. Ateco tip 825 is used to pipe frosting on these cupcakes.

Cupcakes with Pumpkins & Trees

Cupcakes with Pumpkins & Trees

Add some plump little pumpkins to spice up these cupcakes.  These pumpkins are chocolate, made using our bundt bon bon mold and decorated with green royal icing.

Single Cupcake

Single Cupcake

Add your own details and decorations to these cupcakes to make them your own.  Yellow sugar pearls will add an extra splash of color and purple polka dot baking cups are also a fun choice.

Haunted Forest Cupcakes

Haunted Forest Cupcakes


Pretty N Punk Cupcakes

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Pretty N Punk Cupcakes

Pretty N Punk Cupcakes

Starting this project I was excited because I have never used Bella Cupcake Couture Cupcake Wraps, or any cupcake wraps for that matter, and when I saw the Bella Cupcake Couture Lu Lu Black and White Cupcake Wraps, I was inspired and knew just what to make. I love the elegant pattern on these wraps and black is an unexpected color that is not usually associated with cupcakes so I thought it would be fun to make something different.

Bella Cupcake Couture Wrap

Bella Cupcake Couture Wrap

Starting out, I anticipated this to be an easy project. Just bake and frost some cupcakes and place them in the wraps right? Wrong. I started out by baking standard sized cupcakes and when the cupcakes came out of the oven and cooled I quickly realized that they were going to be too small for the Bella Cupcake Couture Wraps. Looking down into the wrap, the top of the standard size cupcake was a good 1/2″ below the edge of the cupcake wrap, and the cupcake had at least 1/4″ of breathing room all around it. I knew that even if I mounded on giant swirls of frosting, the cupcake would still look sunken and inset from the wrap.

Standard Size Cupcake in Wrap

Standard Size Cupcake in Wrap

My options were to place the cupcakes on some sort of stilts to raise them up so that the top of the cupcake would be level with the edge of the wrap, to go ahead and frost the cupcakes using as much frosting as possible so that the problem wouldn’t be as noticeable or to bake new larger cupcakes. The stilt idea seemed clunky and complicated and I knew I wouldn’t get the results I wanted by frosting the cupcakes I already had made, so I baked new cupcakes. The next size up that I had in baking cups was a 1-7/8″ wall by 2-1/4″ diameter base baking cup. This is the size in between standard and giant (Texas sized), and if you don’t fill it too full you can use a standard size muffin baking pan.

Cupcakes in a Row

Cupcakes in a Row

Just for reference, a standard size baking cup has 1-3/8″ walls (sides) and a 2″ diameter bottom. Note: 1-3/8″ walls and 2″ diameter bottom measurements must be approximations because although these are the dimensions that are called out on the packaging, when I measure the baking cup it seems closer to 1-1/2″ wall and 1-7/8″ diameter base. These are the most common size and the kind that people generally use. They come in a variety of different colors and patterns, and you should be able to find some variety of these size at your local grocery store.

Large Baking Cups in Pan

Large Baking Cups in Pan

Using the new larger baking cups I baked some new cupcakes. These larger cupcake liners stuck up way above the edges of my cupcake pan. I filled each cup with 1/2 cup of batter (next time I would use 1/3 cup because this was too much) and baked them for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees F. When these cupcakes emerged from the oven I could tell that they were much much bigger, but the question now was… are they too big? Unfortunately the answer was yes. Bigger than the standard size cupcakes but too big for the cupcake wraps, these cupcakes would not do. Now I was determined that I would make a cupcake that was not too big, not too small, but just right.

Large Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Large Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Because I didn’t have any other in between size baking cups, I had to create my own by cutting approximately 3/8″ off of the entire rim of the larger baking cups. They originally had a 2″ wall (the packaging again read 1-7/8″ wall, but when measured was closer to 2″) so this brought them down to a 1-5/8″ wall. This may not seem like a big difference being that the standard baking cup was only 1/4″ shorter, but because of the differing base diameters, the overall size was quite different. I continued to cut the baking liners three at a time until I had 12. I placed them in the standard size muffin pan and filled them with approximately a level scoop (I use a 56 mm scoop) and a half of batter (this is approximately 1/4 cup), and baked them for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F. After letting the cupcakes cool on a wire rack, I dropped one into the wrap and found that to my relief and delight these cupcakes were the perfect size.

Medium Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Medium Cupcake in Bella Wrap

Now the fun part! Decorating the cupcakes. My idea for decorating was simple… Pipe frosting on the cupcakes using a large decorating tip and then sprinkle with black sugar pearls and place in cupcake wraps. This part of the project went pretty much according to plan.

I wanted a vibrant contrast color that wouldn’t fade in the background or be drowned out by the black, so I chose electric pink. I put approximately 5-6 cups of buttercream icing in the bowl of a six quart Kitchen Aid mixer and using the whisk attachment I mixed in almost a whole bottle of electric pink gel paste to get this shocking pink. Hint: The frosting will become darker as it sets. If you want to make sure that your frosting is the color you are hoping for, color it the night or day before you want to use it and color it just a shade lighter than you want. By the next day, your frosting will have developed to its final shade.

Decorating Supplies

Decorating Supplies

I used a 14″ pastry bag and Ateco tip 825 to pipe frosting on the cupcakes. Start piping from the outside edge of the cupcake and end up with your swirl ending in the center.

Next use your fingers to sprinkle black sugar pearls onto the cupcakes.

Pink Cupcake

Pink Cupcake

Now gently place the cupcakes in the Bella Cupcake wraps. I found that the best way to do this is to hold the cupcake directly over the assembled wrap with one hand. Bring your other hand under the wrap and up through the opening in the bottom of the wrap to grap the cupcake and gently guide it down into place.

Now you can add additional decorations to your cupcakes such as the chocolate skull toppers we added here, or place them on a pedestal for an elegant display.

Recap – To do this project at home you will need the following:

~Bella Cupcake Couture Lu Lu Black and White Cupcake Wraps (1 pkg-12wraps)

~12 Large Baking Cups (1-7/8″ wall and 2-1/4″ diameter base)

~14″ Pastry Bag/Decorating Bag

~Ateco Tip/Tube 825

~Black Sugar Pearls

~1 Bottle Americolor Electric Pink Gel Paste

Optional:

~12 Chocolate Skull Toppers

Cupcakes on Cake Stand

Cupcakes on Cake Stand

All dressed up in Bella Cupcake Couture Wraps, these cupcakes make a wonderful centerpiece for any celebration. I love that these cupcakes are very versatile and can look elegant and chic or a bit edgy and punk when you add the skulls.

Skull Cupcakes


Easter Cupcake Project for Kids

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Bunny Cupcakes

Bunny Cupcakes

This is a fantastic Easter cupcake project to do with kids because it is simple and fun. All the kids I know love to bake and decorate, the trick is finding projects that match their attention span, and this one fits the bill. All of the ingredients and decorations can be store bought, and you could even use store bought muffins if you didn’t have time to bake up a batch of cupcakes.

I made these cupcakes with my neighbor, Grace, and she took them to school to share with her class. The idea for these Bunny Cupcakes comes from the book, Cupcakes Year Round by Sara Neumeier. I love this book! It came out even before the cupcake craze and has so many amazing recipes and tips. I make the Hot Buttered Rum Cupcakes every year for Christmas and this book also has my favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe.

Iced Cupcake

Iced Cupcake

To make the Bunny Cupcakes you will need the following:

~ 24 Cupcakes

~Two Containers (about 4 cups) Store Bought Creamy Vanilla Frosting

~Green Food Coloring

~ 24 Bunny Peeps

~ Narrow  Ribbon  (about 5 feet – 3″ per bunny)

If you want to go the extra step of making your cupcakes and frosting homemade, I suggest carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. It seems like the perfect fit for Bunny Cupcakes.

Step 1  - Make your cupcakes and let them cool completely.

Step 2 – Add drops of green food coloring to your frosting to get the desired shade.

Step 3 – Use an offset spatula to frost the each cupcake.

Step 4 – Tie a 3″ length of ribbon around the bunnies’ necks to form a bow tie. If the ribbon is a bit long, just trim it. Grace added her own touch by giving some of the bunnies bandanas instead of bow ties.

Bandana Bunnies

Bandana Bunnies

Step 5 – Use the spatula to put a small dollop of green frosting on the bottom of your bunny and place the bunny in the center of the cupcake.

Voila! Now you have delicious and delightful Easter Treats to share!

Be creative and feel free to make variations on this project. I decided to make some similar cupcakes using the classic yellow chick Peeps and grass. I used grass tip 233 to pipe grass onto a cupcake. Note: Buttercream is best for this. You can use store bought frosting to do this but you will need to put the prepared (filled with tip and icing) into the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour so that the icing will set up enough to get good results with the grass tip.

Classic Peep Cupcake

Classic Peep Cupcake

I use lavender sugar pearls to dot the grass and place a big yellow chick Peep on the top of the mounded grass.  Then I piped additional grass around the chick. To avoid the white exposed marshmallow spots that you will see when you cut the Peeps apart, cut two little ovals off of another Peep and stick these on to cover the white spots and serve as wings.

Another variation uses colored coconut as the grass. For this, put some flaked coconut in a bowl and add a few drops of food coloring. Stir the coconut and food coloring until the coconut is the desired shade.

Tinted Coconut

Tinted Coconut

Now frost your cupcakes using an offset spatula. Now the fun part…turn the frosted cupcake upside down and dip it into the bowl of coconut so that it is completely covered. Now you have a grass covered cupcake and all you need to do is add a topper. Peeps come in so many different colors and shapes, you can chose any color combination you want.

Use the offset spatula to add a dollop of frosting the the bottom of your Peep and place the Peep in the center of the cupcake. Using your fingers grab a small amount of the coconut to cover any exposed frosting around the Peep.

Peep Cupcakes

Peep Cupcakes


Ducky Cupcake Tree

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Ducky Cupcake Tree

Ducky Cupcake Tree

This cupcake tree is perfect for a baby shower or baby birthday. Guests will be in awe that the ducky cupcake toppers are cute and edible too!

You will need about 30-32 cupcakes to fill the cupcake tower. The three tier cupcake stand will fit approximately 28-40 cupcakes depending on how far your frosting and decorations extend beyond the cupcake. For the photo I fit 28 cupcakes on the stand.

To make the cupcakes you will need the following –

~Ducky Suckers (follow this link for directions and materials needed to make the Ducky suckers)

~Pastel Fluted Baking Cups (if you want all of the baking cups to be the same color (as shown in the picture) you will need two packages of these baking cups because they are an assortment and contain 20 each of the three colors shown.

~One batch of Buttercream Icing or other firm frosting or icing recipe (you need a frosting that will hold its shape).  You will need about 9 cups.

~Disposable or Reusable Pastry Bag

~Tip 1M

~Orange Gel Paste

~Three Tier Cupcake Stand

Cupcake Setup

Cupcake Setup

Step 1 – Use your favorite recipe or a box mix to make the cupcakes. You will need a recipe that makes at least 30 cupcakes to fill the tree. If you are using box cake mix you will need two boxes. Use a ¼ cup scoop to fill each baking cup. These fluted baking cups are slightly shallower than a regular baking cup so they take a bit less batter. Bake as directed.

Step 2 – Cool the cupcakes fully. If you don’t wait for the cupcakes to cool completely, the frosting will melt off of the cupcakes. If you haven’t already made your icing you may want to do this at this time. Color your icing with orange gel paste to get the desired shade.

Step 3 –Set up your 3 tier cupcake stand. This way you will have a place to put your decorated cupcakes. If you are traveling you will want to set the stand up once you get to your location and place the cupcakes on at that time.

Ducky Suckers

Ducky Suckers

Step 4 – Prepare your pastry bag for decorating. Drop tip 1M (this is a large tip and does not work with a coupler) into the bottom of your decorating bag and fill the bag with frosting. Take one cupcake in your hand and begin piping blossoms all over the cupcake. Hold the tip close to the surface of the cupcake. Squeeze the bag firmly to make sure that the frosting will adhere to the cupcake. Stop squeezing and pull the tip away from the cupcake to form a blossom. Continue doing this until the cupcake is completely covered. I find that it is easiest to work from the center outward. Repeat this process to decorate all of the remaining cupcakes.

Step 5 – Place the Ducky Suckers on the cupcakes. Simply stick the lollipop stick into the center of the cupcake so that the ducky is resting atop the frosting. Remember – Ducky Lollipop sticks must be cut down by an inch to an inch and a half so that they will be the right height for the cupcakes.

Ducky Closeup

Ducky Closeup

Step 6 – Place cupcakes on the three tier cupcake stand. When loading, be careful to place cupcakes on either side to balance the stand. Do not place all of the cupcake on one side as the stand may tip. Also remember this when unloading the stand. Slide cupcakes into the nooks in the center of the stand. Continue placing until all cupcakes are on the stand.

It is best to place the cupcakes on the stand once the stand is in its final position. This is because moving the fully loaded stand is difficult. If you have to move the stand lift from the legs not from the bottom tier as the bottom tier will rise up and smash your cupcakes.

Step 7 – Add a decorative border such as an eyelet ribbon to the sides of the tiers or leave as is for a beautiful display.

Buttercream Recipe

2 lb Bag Powdered/Confectioners’ Sugar
1 ½ tsp Clear Vanilla Extract (You can use regular vanilla if you don’t need the frosting to be white)
½ tsp Salt
1-1/3 Cups Boiling Water
1 ½ Sticks Unsalted Butter (12 oz) Cut into ½” cubes
3 Cups Shortening

Sift the powdered sugar and place in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Put whisk attachment on mixer. Add boiling water, vanilla, and salt.  Mix until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm not hot. Add remaining ingredients and mix on high speed for about ten minutes.

Duckies

Duckies