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


Chocolate Easter Bunny

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Chocolate Bunny

Chocolate Bunny

Make a Chocolate Easter Bunny for an eye catching addition to any Easter basket!

Bunny in Basket

Bunny in Basket

I have always had my heart set on making a chocolate Easter Bunny, so I set out on a mission to make a special colorful bunny, different from those that you can buy at the store. There were a few hiccups, but all in all I think that this Chocolate Easter bunny is an unforgettable addition to any Easter basket, and will surely bring a smile and Easter cheer to anyone who sees it.

I would caution that this project is challenging, and while I encourage everyone to try it, if you have not used a two part mold before, or worked with chocolate before, I would not recommend this as a first project. Begin with some simpler projects such as one piece molds using one or two colors of chocolate and then move on to this one!

To make this bunny, you will need the following tools -

~Two 12oz squeeze bottles

Candymelter Palette

Candymelter Palette

~Paint brushes of varying thicknesses

~Candy melter palette

~Mold Clips (10) or Binder Clips

~Electric Skillet (optional)

You will also need the following Items -

~Bunny Mold

~1 bag (16 oz) milk chocolate candy melts

Electric Skillet

Electric Skillet

~1 bag (16 oz) dark blue candy melts (for overalls)

~2 white melts for the eyes

~2 black melts for the eyes

~2 orange melts for bowtie

~2 red melts for pocket

~2 yellow melts for kerchief

~1 pink melt for nose

~1 tan or peanut butter melt for muzzle (you can mix brown and white to get this color as well)

Step 1 – Begin by plugging in the candy melter palette and dropping in all of the various colors you will be using. Let the palette melt the colors while you get the mold and filling colors ready.

Chocolate Bunny Mold

Chocolate Bunny Mold

Step 2 – Melt the filling colors. The main filling color is the milk chocolate.  This is the color we will be filling the mold with and so we will want to melt this and have it ready for when we need it. Also since the overall color (dark blue) is the second most used color, you will want to have plenty of this color melted and ready for when you need it. I melt each bag of melts separately in a pyrex bowl in the microwave. To do this, I pour the entire 16 oz bag of melts into the bowl and microwave on defrost setting in increments of 30 seconds, stirring in between. Do this, stirring between each heat cycle, until the melts are completely smooth. Use a funnel to transfer the melted chocolate into a 12 oz squeeze bottle (all of the melted chocolate will fit).  Do the same with the dark blue melts.

Cutting out Mold

Cutting out Mold

Step 3 – Keep the chocolate warm. To keep these colors warm and liquid while prepping and painting the mold, I place the bottles on top of a couple layers of dishtowels in an electric skillet on the lowest setting. Monitor this carefully, as you do not want the chocolate to get too warm. Rotate the bottles periodically and add additional towels to keep the proper temperature if necessary. Do not leave this unattended as it is a potential fire hazard.

Clipped Empty Mold

Clipped Empty Mold

Step 4 – Now you are ready to prepare the mold. The mold that I have is not yet cut out. This is fine if you plan to make two halves and stick them together, but to make a 3-D mold you need to cut the mold out so that it can be clipped together. Roughly cut out the halves.  Place the halves together and begin to cut through both layers of plastic leaving about 1/2″ border all the way around the mold. Once I get this started, I begin to use the mold clips to hold the cut portion of the mold together while I continue cutting around the entire mold.

Stage 1 Interior

Stage 1 Interior

Step 5 – Separate the two sides of the mold and lay them flat on your work surface so that the interior of the mold faces you. Now you are ready to begin painting the details into the mold. Use toothpicks to stir the colors in your candy melter palette. Make sure that they are fully melted and smooth. There will be three stages of painting the chocolate.

Stage 1 Detail Exterior

Stage 1 Exterior

Chocolate Painting – Stage 1 – On the front interior of the bunny mold use your paintbrushes to paint black into the pupils of the eyes. Paint the pink nose, white teeth, and orange bowtie at this time as well. On the back interior of the bunny mold, use your paintbrush to paint the white tail, red pocket and yellow kerchief. You can use the same paintbrush by using a papertowel or cloth to wipe of the excess chocolate in between colors. Generally I designate one paintbrush per color so that there is no chance of the colors mixing. Whatever you do, do not wash the paintbrushes or get water anywhere near the chocolate work area. Water is the enemy of chocolate and will cause it to seize and become ruined.  Use only dry or slightly damp towels or papertowels in the chocolate work area.

Stage 2 Interior

Stage 2 Interior

Stage 2 Exterior

Stage 2 Exterior

Chocolate Painting – Stage 2 – Make sure that your Stage 1 details are dry before beginning stage 2. Do this by touching the chocolate. It should be set, and should not stick to your finger. For Stage 2, paint the white iris of the eyes. Paint all the way around and over the black portion of the eyes so that there are no gaps. Paint the muzzle tan. Paint the overalls on both cavities of  the mold using a paintbrush with a wider tip. Make sure that the dark blue overall color adheres to all of the surfaces.  Hold the mold above your head to look at the exterior side of the mold to see if the coverage is consistent.  Add a thick enough layer of blue so that it is solid and you cannot see through it when looking from the other side.

Stage 2 Face

Stage 2 Face

Chocolate Painting – Stage 3 – At this point make sure that all of your stage 2 details are set. If everything is set, proceed by using a wide tipped brush to paint the entire interior of both halves of the mold with a coat of the milk chocolate filling color. I do this as a precaution. In two sided molds, I have had the unfortunate experience of squeezing my warm filling color into a perfectly detailed mold and seeing my details melt and slide over out of place because the warmth of

Color Slide on Pocket

Color Slide on Pocket

the filling chocolate caused them to detach from the surface that they were painted to. One solution to this is to use a cooler chocolate or refrain from rotating the mold.  I find that if the chocolate is any cooler, it will not completely coat the mold as it should, and I have had sliding occur even when I am not rotating molds. At this point you have already invested a lot of time and effort into this bunny and I advise you to paint the insulating coat of milk chocolate to protect your details. If you have any tricks or solutions for this problem, please let me know.

Stage 3 - Chocolate Coat

Stage 3 - Chocolate Coat

Stage 3 Face

Stage 3 Face

Step 6 – Make sure that the insulating coat of milk chocolate is set. Now you are ready to put the two halves together. To do this I use the milk chocolate filled squeeze bottle to fill the back interior of the mold with chocolate.  Take the front of the mold and place it on top of the chocolate filled half. Clip the molds together using the chocolate clips. Rotate the entire mold to get the interior completely covered. Another option for filling this mold is to clip both halves together and fill the mold with chocolate through a hole in the bottom. This method requires you to make a hole in the bottom of the mold and make sure you have a container big enough to place the mold in vertically so that it stands upright while you fill it with chocolate.

Filled and Clipped Bunny

Filled and Clipped Bunny

Step 7 – Refrigerate the mold until set.  I refrigerated this mold for 30-40 minutes.  Allowing it to set longer should not do any harm, and once it has set it should easily release from the mold. Just remove the clips and gently pry away the plastic.

Tools for Trimming

Tools for Trimming

Step 8 – Don’t worry that there is an unsightly seam around the bunny. This is normal and can be easily removed using an exacto knife or paring knife (as long as these tools are sharp, they should work).  Place the bunny on a piece of parchment or wax paper and use the exacto to remove the excess chocolate from the edges. Dust away any chocolate shavings that land on the bunny, and now you are left with a spectacular Easter treat!

Chocolate Bunny at Home

Chocolate Bunny at Home