Circus Cake

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Circus Cake

Circus Cake

So this is my favorite cake.  Yep, it’s really my very favorite cake (that I have made). It is even more extra special to me because I made it for my nephew’s 1st birthday!  I had been wanting to make a circus themed cake, and I had a picture of this one in my head long before I started. It all began when I found the retro chocolate molds for the animals on the cake.  The adorable elephant, monkey, and seal chocolate figurines were calling my name and crying out to be part of a fun, cheerful circus cake!

Elephant Chocolate Topper

Elephant Chocolate Topper

You may already know this about me, but I’ll say it again, I am a BIG fan of using chocolate on cakes!  Especially now that I am a mom and have to try and squeeze in cake projects here and there, being able to make chocolate figures ahead of time is unbelievably convenient.  When I saw the cute little retro elephant rocking horse chocolate mold, I knew it needed to be the center of attention on this cake!

Monkey Chocolate

Monkey Chocolate

The peanut border is a fun detail that reminds me of the circus.  I made these with some peanut butter flavored candy melts, not for the flavor, but because the color was perfect.  The yellow stars on the top tier are made of fondant using a pie crust star cutter from Williams-Sonoma.  I love their pie crust cutter sets because they are so versatile.  I end up using them for so much more than just pie crust!

Seal Chocolate

Seal Chocolate

The chocolates on the cake are pretty substantial, and I was worried that if I didn’t connect them properly they would just fall right off the cake. I whipped up a thick batch of royal icing and it held the figures on with no problems.  Royal icing is such a lifesaver!

Elephant Chocolate

Elephant Chocolate

The scalloped red and yellow vertical stripes on this cake really bring everything together and give it that big top feel.  I actually placed the vertical stripes on the cake and then cut the scallop pattern using a piece of cardstock and an x-acto knife.  I had to be careful not to cut through the base layer of yellow fondant, but this method was much easier than transferring the individually cut pieces onto the cake.

Top of Circus Cake

Top of Circus Cake

The cake drum is wrapped with yellow grosgrain ribbon and blue rick rack.  I think the rick rack adds to the retro style of this cake, and I love using it as an accent on cake bases. I always hot glue my ribbon to the cake drum.  I have tried other methods such a double stick tape, and white glue, but I really want to know it is going to stay put, and hot glue is the only reliable method I have found.  Thinking back on the making of this cake, it was one of the smoothest and easiest cake experiences I have had.  Maybe that’s why it’s my favorite cake! Once I had the cake covered in fondant, all I had to do was pop on the chocolate figures, which had been made in advance.  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Thanks for taking a look at this cake, I hope it inspires you to try a cake with chocolate details!

 


The Great Cupcake

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The Great Cupcake

The Great Cupcake

I am a sucker for a fun cake pan, and this Great Cupcake Pan has been calling my name for quite some time.  In spite of my efforts to be selective, somehow my collection of specialty shaped cake pans keeps growing, but who can resist a giant cupcake? I think I can squeeze one more pan into the attic!

White Chocolate Cupcake Shell

White Chocolate Cupcake Shell

I love the scalloped detail that makes up the “cupcake liner.”  I wanted to preserve this detail but I was afraid that it would get lost if I covered it in frosting, so I went a completely different direction, chocolate!  I melted some white candy melts and threw in a few pink candy melts to get a light pink color.  I sprayed the bottom part of the cupcake pan with non-stick spray and then wiped out the excess.  Then I brushed the melted candy coating up the sides of the pan.

Inside of candy shell

Inside of candy shell

To make sure the candy shell was nice and sturdy, I painted two coats of chocolate.  I waited for the first coat to dry before applying the second.  I left the candy shell to set overnight and then unmolded it in the morning.  I wasn’t sure if the chocolate would stick, so this was experimental, but to my surprise and delight, the shell released from the pan beautifully!

Cake in chocolate shell

Cake in chocolate shell

You may recognize the cake here; it’s Funfetti! This cake was for my goddaughter’s birthday and she always makes a special request for Funfetti.  The bright colorful spots always liven up a party, and kids especially love it.  The cake fit perfectly in the shell; I just leveled it a bit to make it slightly shorter than the top of the chocolate shell.

Frosting top of cupcake base

Frosting top of cupcake base

I added some light pink frosting to seal in the cake and make sure no cake would peek through.

Top of Great Cupcake

Top of Great Cupcake

So this is the top that I originally made.  I covered the cake in poured icing and added some confetti sprinkles.  I was happy with the color and sprinkles, but the icing started to crack, and that wasn’t the look I was going for.  Also it looked more like an ice cream than a cupcake.  Hmmm… Scratch that one!

Cupcake with poured icing

Cupcake with poured icing

I went ahead and put the top on just to see the overall look.  As you can see, the top of the cupcake is a little too small for the cupcake base; it doesn’t go all the way out to the edge of the chocolate shell.  Details, details! These are the kinds of issues that you just can’t think of! The top portion of this cake would make a really cute shell for a snail cake.  I’m putting that one on my list!

Frosted Cupcake

Frosted Cupcake

So here is the revised version frosted with Ateco tip 825 in pink buttercream. It takes a lot of frosting to cover this cupcake! Hint –  Use a large pastry bag to get one continuous swirl of icing.

Great Cupcake with sprinkles

Great Cupcake with sprinkles

A few confetti sprinkles and voila! Time to dig in! This giant cupcake is sure to be the center of attention at any party!


Farm Animal Baby Shower Cake

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Farm Cake

Farm Cake

This is a very special cake that I made for my sister’s baby shower.  The shower had a farm theme, and so I wanted to do something bright and cheerful.

Pigs

Pigs

The sheep and pigs figures are from a book I had recently purchased, Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes, a book that I still look at all the time!  I absolutely love Debbie Brown’s work.  She is so talented at modeling figures from fondant and gumpaste, and her work always looks so polished and professional!  I was inspired by her work, and this cake was my first attempt at 3-D modeling with fondant. If you are intimidated by 3-D modeling, her books are the perfect first step.  She lays out all of the pieces and gives you a step by step on how she constructs her figures.

Sheep

Sheep

The little sheep peeking out from the bushes are so cute and remind me of spring.  To cover the cake drum I rolled out white fondant and embossed it with an embossing wheel.  I then wrapped the edge of the cake drum in a cute red and white gingham ribbon.

Chick and apple box

Chick and apple box

This cake has a lot of details, but any of the figures could be used individually as a centerpiece or cake topper.  This little chick would look just as cute on top of a cupcake.

cow

cow

Cows are my sister’s favorite animal, so the cake definitely had to have a cow.  The rectangle portion of the barn is cake and the roof is molded rice krispie treats.

Tree

Tree

Here is a top view of the cake.  My amazing husband made the tree for this cake all by himself!


Dapper Duck Family

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Dapper Duck Family

Dapper Duck Family

Easter is on its way, and this dapper duck family seems like the perfect something sweet for this holiday.  I love chocolate molding, and Easter is never complete without chocolate, so this is the best time of year to dust off your old chocolate molds and get to work.  I try to find unique and unusual molds, and while bunnies are the traditional choice for Easter, this duck family is so cheerful and cute, I just couldn’t resist!  Searching for chocolate molds is like looking for buried treasure;you never know where you’ll find them.  You can find good molds at specialty kitchen stores and online, but I have found some of my best molds at swap meets and yard sales.  It’s fun to hunt for molds, and you may just find a one of a kind mold that had been forgotten for years in someone’s attic.  The older molds have some fun retro designs that you just can’t find in the store.

Duck Family in Mold

Duck Family in Mold

Back of Mold

Back of Mold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made these ducks for my son’s 1st Easter, and I chose bright colors so he would really notice them in his basket.  This happy little duck family reminds me of ours, now that we have a little one waddling around!

Daddy Duck

Daddy Duck

Mama Duck

Mama Duck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used candy coating for all of the details and filling of the molds.  I really love my candy melter palette for projects like this, because I can easily keep a variety of colors warm all at once.  This speeds up the mold painting process by leaps and bounds!

Mama Duck Chocolate

Mama Duck Chocolate

The mama duck is probably my favorite; I love the pretty pink Easter bonnet! I added the eyelashes to the mama duck for extra beautification!

Duck Family

Duck Family

The only hiccup in this project was the baby’s hat.  I had mixed a custom color for the light blue using some candy coloring, and that particular chocolate ended up sticking to the mold a bit and not properly releasing.  There are too many factors to pinpoint the exact reason for this failure.  I think it was just to much liquid (candy coloring) added.  I have used candy coloring, which is an oil based coloring designed for chocolate, many times without any issue, but some times you just run into trouble! Oh well!

Ducky Easter Basket

Ducky Easter Basket

Look at this little duck family!  All dressed up and ready for an Easter party! Happy Easter!  I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!


Oakland A’s Baseball Cap Cake

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Oakland A's Cake

Oakland A’s Cake

So I don’t follow baseball at all, but my brother in law, Peter, is a die-hard Oakland A’s fan.  He the biggest sports fan I know, and he is unwavering in his dedication to the Oakland Athletics.  I wanted to do a special cake for his 35th birthday, and because he is an absolute A’s fanatic, I knew it would have to be an Oakland A’s themed cake.  I needed the cake to be compact so I could easily transport it, and this baseball hat cake was a last minute idea that fit all the criteria.

Back of A's Hat Cake

Back of A’s Hat Cake

I have a hard time thinking of cakes for guys.  Maybe its because guys hobbies and interests usually aren’t easily translated into big swirls of pink frosting, or maybe its just because I have made fewer cakes for men.  This cake is great because you can just change the colors and logo and you have the perfect cake for any baseball fan, guy or girl.

Side View of A's Hat Cake

Side View of A’s Hat Cake

The hat is baked using a sports ball pan (one half) cake stacked on a 6″ round cake carved into a wedge.  I wasn’t sure how I would get just the right shade of green for this cake, and it turned out to be a combination of Americolor forest green and leaf green gel pastes.  The entire cake is covered in green and yellow fondant, and the stitching was done with a Wilton cutter/embosser tool.  Hopefully this season will be a good one for the A’s!

 

Top of Hat Cake

Top of Hat Cake


Daffodil Cookies

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Daffodil Candy Cup Cookies

Daffodil Candy Cup Cookies

Spring is finally here, and nothing makes me happier than seeing the cheery bright yellow daffodils that bloom this time of year!  Daffodils are my favorite flower, and last year I came across a cute little craft project on Martha Stewart’s website – making paper daffodil candy cups.  I loved the look of these delightful decorations and thought why not make them edible! So this year I turned them into a cookie with a candy cup center.  These cheerful cookies would be the perfect accent for your Easter table.  I’m thinking of putting a cookie at each guests plate; I could even write a name on each cookie and use them as place cards. They would be beautiful for a baby or bridal shower as well!

Cutting out cookies

Cutting out cookies

To make the cookies, I started with my Excellent Sugar Cookie recipe.  I used the daffodil template from Martha Stewart’s site to make a card stock guide to cut out the cookies.  I reduced the template to 85%, but I’m sure it would work at full size as well.

Cookies on sheet

Cookies on sheet

I baked the cookies on a Silpat non-stick baking mat.  I love using these mats because the cookies slide right off, and they make for easy cleanup!

Cooling the cookies

Cooling the cookies

While the cookies are cooling, you can get the icing ready!  I have tried a lot of royal icing cookie decorating techniques and recipes, and I have not always been successful.  Through a lot of trial and error and searching, I came across a book called Decorating Cookies by Bridget Edwards.  This is the most amazing cookie decorating book I have found.  It has tons of tips, tricks, and methods for creating beautiful cookies, but most importantly it features what is, in my opinion, the perfect foolproof royal icing recipe, and the author, Bridget Edwards, has very kindly allowed me to feature that recipe here!  Thank you Bridget!!! I should also mention that Bridget has a wonderful blog where she shares more of her lovely cookie creations and insight!

Outlining the cookies

Outlining the cookies

I used a bit of Americolor lemon yellow and egg yellow gel pastes to get the right shade for these cookies. I used a number 2 tip to outline the cookies with royal icing.

Filling in the cookies with flood icing

Filling in the cookies with flood icing

Next, working with three or four cookies at a time, I filled in the cookies with flood icing.  Flood icing is just royal icing thinned with water.  It is the icing you use to fill in the outlined area of the cookie.

Using a toothpick to drag icing to the edges

Using a toothpick to drag icing to the edges

I like to use these funny little picks called Bamboo Forks to drag the icing to the edges of the cookie.  The ends of these picks are wider than a toothpick and I find that they really help me nudge the icing into those far corners. After I had covered the three or four cookies I was working with in yellow flood icing, I immediately piped the white dots onto the cookies.

Piping the dots

Piping the dots

Piping the white flood icing dots on top of the yellow flood icing was a bit intimidating, but it actually worked out great! Following the advice in Bridget’s book, I added the same amount of water to both icings (the yellow and white) to make sure that the flood icings were the same consistency.  For the white flood icing I added Americolor bright white gel paste to get a super white finish, and to help me get the polka dots pretty uniform in size I used these tiny little squeeze bottles.  I use these bottles a lot for chocolate details, but they came in really handy for these cookies as well!

Letting the cookies dry

Letting the cookies dry

Once I had piped all of the polka dots, I breathed a sigh of relief and let them set out to dry.

Shiny, glossy cookie

Shiny, glossy cookie

I love the shiny, glossy sheen on these cookies.  It took about six hours for the cookies to dry.  I usually plan for them to dry overnight just to make sure they are completely set.

Filling candy cups

Filling candy cups

Okay so I feel like this project is getting a bit long now, and the cookies are cute just as they are, but if you’re still as excited as I am about daffodil candy cup cookies, stay with me! I promise it’s worth it! I filled these little fluted candy cup molds with candy melts.  I like to use a baby feeding spoon to drop a dollup of candy coating into the mold cavity.

Back of baby spoon

Back of baby spoon

You can use the back of the baby spoon to push the chocolate up the sides of the mold.

Orange Candy Cups

Orange Candy Cups

I made these candy cups in two colors, because I wasn’t sure which I would like better.  I just let these candy cups dry at room temperature (it is 65 degrees in my house this time of year) for about 20 minutes, but you can stick them in the fridge to get the candy coating to set up even faster.

Jellybeans

Jellybeans

Now time to sort the jelly beans!  If you have a little helpers, this is a great job for them!  Just be aware that one or two jelly beans may go missing!

Jelly beans and Candy Cups

Jelly beans and Candy Cups

I used orange and yellow jelly beans, but you could fill the candy cups with other candies like Reese’s Pieces or anything you like!

Royal Icing glue

Royal Icing glue

I saved a bit of royal icing to use as glue to stick the candy cups to the daffodil cookies.  Royal icing is very strong and just a small dab is enough.

Placing candy cup

Placing candy cup

By pressing down in the center of the candy cups, I made sure my daffodil centers were completely stuck.  I allowed about fifteen minutes to make sure that the royal icing was dry before filling the cups with jelly beans.

Daffodils in a row

Daffodils in a row

Put these little treats in cellophane bags and tie a ribbon around the top and you have an irresistible favor or gift!

Packaged Daffodil Cookie

Packaged Daffodil Cookie

Royal Icing
Author: 
 
The perfect royal icing for decorating sugar cookies! Recipe as printed in Decorating Cookies by Bridget Edwards.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup meringue powder
  • 1 scant cup water (meaning not quite full)
  • 2 pounds (32 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
Instructions
  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the meringue powder and water until foamy and combined.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar, add the corn syrup, and mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 5 minutes.
  3. Increase the mixer’s speed to medium-high and continue beating, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. To check for stiff peaks, take the beater off the mixer and hold it so that the icing is pointing up in the air. If the peak is floppy, keep beating. If the icing holds a point and keeps that point when jiggled, you have a stiff peak.
  4. Note: Be careful not to overbeat the icing, or it might become flaky when applied to the cookie. Keep a close eye on the glossy sheen; overbeating will cause it to go dull.
Notes
This is my favorite foolproof royal icing recipe for decorating sugar cookies! Bridget Edwards, an amazingly talented and creative cookie artist, very kindly allowed me to feature this recipe from her book, Decorating Cookies. Thank you Bridget!

 


Dancing Goldfish Cake

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Dancing Goldfish Cake

Dancing Goldfish Cake

This is a fun little cake I made for my mom’s birthday.  I was inspired by the goldfish chocolate mold, and couldn’t resist putting this little happy goldfish on top of a cake.  I like using chocolate figures on cakes because I can make the figures way in advance and then just pop them on the cake at the last minute.  For this particular cake, I knew I would be short on time and sleep because I had a two month old baby at home. Even though I was short on time, I wanted to make something special for my mom, so I chose this design.

Painting Chocolate Mold

Painting Details on Chocolate Mold

I have tried a lot of different methods for “painting” chocolate molds, and for fine details like these I prefer to use a candymelter palette and paint brush (one that is dedicated to food use only).  Once I found the candymelter palette, I really got excited about chocolate because it allows you to keep up to ten colors warm at the same time in the small aluminum cups attached to the palette, and for painting details, there is nothing better.  When you stop having to worry about keeping all of your chocolate melted, you find there is so much more you can do with your designs.

Painted Details Front of Mold

Painted Details Front of Mold

The basic strategy for painting chocolate molds is a layering technique where you paint all of the details first and then fill in the background color.  You need to leave a little bit of time in between layers so that the colors don’t run.  For example, I painted the black pupil of the eye first and had to let it set before applying the white part so that the two wouldn’t run. All of the colors that you see are melted candy coating (a.k.a candy melts, confectionery coating, summer coating, chocolate wafers).  Candy melts are not actual chocolate.  They have a higher melting point than chocolate, do not require tempering, and come in a variety of colors, so they are quite convenient.

Filling in the Background

Filling in the Background

Once all of the details have been painted and are dry, you are ready to fill in the mold.  For this, I use a chocolate squeeze bottle. I melt my background color, pour it into a chocolate squeeze bottle, and then fill the mold.  Make sure to tap your mold so that all of the nooks and crannies are filled in with candy coating.  Luckily, the molds are clear so you can just lift them up over your head to see if there are any gaps or bubbles.  For this goldfish, I stuck a lollipop stick in at this point since I knew I would be putting it on a cake!

Goldfish in Mold

Goldfish in Mold

This goldfish just makes me smile!  It is so cute and it reminds me a bit of Cleo, the goldfish from Pinocchio.  The pretty pink flowers and lovely bow remind me of my mom.  Once your chocolate is dry, you can flip the mold over and unmold your figure.

Unmolded Chocolate Goldfish

Unmolded Chocolate Goldfish

Once your goldfish is unmolded, you are left with a beautiful, shiny, chocolate goldfish!  Looks like the perfect cake topper to me!  This happy goldfish looks like it is dancing for joy.  I was so excited about the goldfish, I almost forgot about the cake!  For my mom’s cake I wanted the chocolate goldfish to be the focal point, so I needed something simple that would coordinate with the goldfish and not detract.

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

To keep things simple I frosted the cake in cream cheese frosting and decorated the sides with toasted coconut.  I love how the toasted coconut is a thousand different shades of golden brown.  I am partial to Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut, and use it whenever I can.

Dancing Goldfish Cake

Dancing Goldfish Cake

Whimsical, simple, and fun!  That is how I describe this cake.  Next time you need a cake in a hurry, think about using a chocolate cake topper.  It adds a lot of interest and detail to the cake, and can be made well in advance so you don’t have to invest a lot of time decorating at the last minute!  You may have noticed that there is a happy dancing boy goldfish as well!  Hopefully someday soon, I will be able to make a happy pair of dancing goldfish!


Mickey Mouse Rocket Cake

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Disney Rocket Cake

Mickey Rocket Cake

We just returned from a family trip to Disneyland and it reminded me of a special cake I made for my nephew’s 4th birthday.  My nephew, Cavan, had finally gotten to the age where he was able to tell me what he wanted for his birthday cake, and it was a Mickey Mouse rocket cake.  Of course I had heard of Mickey Mouse, but never a Mickey Mouse rocket ship, so I had to do some investigating to see what it was all about.

Mickey Rocket Cake

Mickey Mouse Rocket Cake Bottom

Luckily I did my research, because the Mickey Mouse Rocket has a very specific look with bright colored horizontal stripes wrapping around the rocket.  I decided to make the rocket out of cake and set it on top of a cake planet.  I used my upper and lowercase tappit sets to make the letters for this cake. The tappit sets are handy because they allow you to add a quick professional looking letters to your cake in a hurry!  I generally use gum paste to make the letters, but if I am in a hurry and only have fondant I will just roll out my fondant and let it set out a few minutes before cutting the letters. This allows the fondant to firm up a bit so that the letters are more stable and easier to cut and handle.

Side of planet

Side of planet

I got the idea for the texture of this planet from the Debbie Brown book, Cartoon Cakes.  I love all of Debbie Brown’s books and this one is fun just to look at even if you aren’t interested in cake decorating.  It is a whole book of wonderful cakes featuring Warner Brothers cartoon characters.  The cakes are expertly designed and decorated by Debbie Brown and they are truly unbelievable.  There is a really cute Marvin the Martian cake, and that is where I got this planet idea.

Mickey Mouse edible figure

Mickey Mouse Gumpaste Figure

The Mickey figure is made of gum paste.  When making a small figure like this, I have to use gum paste because fondant is just too soft and I can’t get the small details. At the same time that I was making this cake, I was looking for a present for my nephew and I came across the perfect a toy called Fisher-Price Disney’s Mickey Mouse Space Rocket.  It was Mickey Mouse with the very rocket ship that I was making in cake! With the cake and the rocket toy I was hoping to be number one Auntie!

Mickey gum paste figure

Mickey Mouse gum paste figure

It’s always a lot of fun to make cakes for children because they have such fun and over the top reactions!  This ended up being a great 4th birthday cake that Cavan loved. I was happy to be able to make Cavan’s birthday extra special, and I am so lucky to have such a wonderful little nephew!


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!!!