Sunday, April 20, 2014

Three Ways to Decorate Cupcakes for Spring

Spring is finally here! The birds are chirping, the flowers are budding, and everyone is happy to done hibernating. So what better way to bring in the sun than with three delicious and creative ways to decorate cupcakes? C'mon, who here is still sticking with their New Year's resolutions? Anyone? I thought so.

I'm going to walk through how to make your cupcakes look like chicks, daisies, and carrots. Note that I don't walk through how to make the actual cupcakes, I'll leave that up to you. And I've put these in order from easiest-hardest, in my opinion. Note that the daisies contain a major mistake, so they don't look how they should.

First, the chicks. For this you'll need:

1. Yellow sprinkles
2. Yellow and orange frosting (and white, if you want to make the eye light)
3. Mini chocolate chips
4. Piping bags or plastic bags and scissors to cut the corner
5. Wilton piping tip #2 (optional)
6. Wilton piping tip #102 (optional)

Use yellow frosting to cover the top of your cupcake and smooth it out. In a small bowl or on a plate, pour your yellow sprinkles. Dip the cupcake into the sprinkles until it's completely covered and shake off the excess.

Place two mini chocolate chips upside-down into the top of the cupcake to resemble eyes and add the wings. If you have frosting tips, you can use #102. If you don't, grab a plastic bag, fill it with yellow frosting, cut off a small part of the corner, and squeeze out the frosting out the corner of the bag, which is what I did here. Make three or four squiggle lines on either side of the cupcake to resemble wings.

Pour some more sprinkles over them and shake off the excess so they look seamless with the rest of the cupcake.

Using your orange frosting and tip #2 (or another plastic bag with the corner cut), add a triangle for the beak and three squiggles per foot, just like you did the wings.

You can add a white dot to the top of the chocolate chips if you want to make the eye light, but it's completely optional. Other than that, your chicks are complete!

Next, the daisies. If you don't have frosting tips, you can just use a toothpick for making the grass and a plastic bag for making the flowers. For these you'll need:

1. Green, white, and yellow frosting - use buttercream! I didn't and screwed these up royally.
2. Wilton piping tip  #103 for the petals (optional). No piping tip needed for the capitulum (or the middle of the daisy)
3. Wilton piping tip #233 for the grass (optional)
4. Piping bags or plastic bags and scissors to cut the corner
5. Parchment paper
6. A cupcake or offset spatula
7. A pencil or pen
8. A cookie sheet

Let's start with the flower. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet, grab your pen or pencil and draw 1.5-2" large circles. You could trace around a piping tip, a half dollar, a bottle cap, whatever you have around. Flip the paper over so you won't have pencil residue or ink in your flower.

Next, grab your white icing, place it in the piping or plastic bag, snip the corner and insert the #103 tip. With the larger part of the tip facing away from you, place it 1/4" above the drawn circle and squeeze the icing towards the center of the circle. Gently decrease pressure as you move the tip down. Now that one petal is done, do the same thing for the next petal all the way around the circle until the daisy is complete.

Now this what my first time piping so excuse my messy daisy. Grab your yellow icing, place it in a piping or plastic bag, snip the corner, and pipe the center of the daisies you've made.

Put your cookie sheet in the freezer to allow the flowers to harden for an hour.

While those are hardening, it's time to make the grass. Grab your green icing, place it in the piping or plastic bag, snip the corner and insert the #233 tip. Place the tip 1/4" above the cupcake and squeeze, allowing the frosting to pile up. Lift the bag up and release to make it look like the grass is standing. Down, squeeze, up, release. Down, squeeze, up, release.

OR, if you don't have a piping bag, just frost the top of the cupcakes and, using a toothpick, flick up the frosting multiple times to resemble grass.

Once the daisies have hardened, use your spatula to lift them off the parchment paper and place onto the tops of the cupcakes. However, if you don't use buttercream frosting and you use the frosting out of a can, they won't harden and you'll have a daisy as a mess.

Finally, the carrot cupcakes. For these you'll need:

1. Green food coloring
2. About 2 cups of sweetened coconut flakes (though I used shredded and it worked out fine)
3. 2 Tablespoons of water
4. Orange Starbursts
5. Green Apple Twizzlers Pull N' Peel (though I used coconut flakes for the top instead)
6. White icing

First off, you'll want to dye your icing with green food coloring. If you have any leftover from the daisy cupcakes, that'd be convenient!

In a small bowl, combine the coconut flakes and water. Add green food coloring (about 8 drops) until the coconut is completely covered and set aside.

Unwrap the Starbursts, cut them in half, put them on a plate, and heat for 15 seconds in the microwave. This will allow them to be malleable so you can roll and shape them into tiny carrots. If they're too hard to work with again, pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds.  Note that they will be sticky to handle and they might stick to the plate.

Add a hole to the top of the carrots, either with a toothpick, skewer, or knife.

To add texture, cut a few indentations to the front.

Cut your Twizzlers into 1/4" pieces and pull them apart or pull a few coconut flakes you want to use for the top of the carrots. Note that the coconut flakes will be difficult to work with but they do make the design more cohesive.

Now it's time to put it all together! First, frost your cupcakes and even out the tops (obviously I'm not very good at the evening out part).

Next, sprinkle the green coconut flakes on top to resemble grass.

Add 2-3 carrots per cupcake and insert 2 Twizzler pieces or coconut flakes per carrot. Keep these away from Peter Rabbit and enjoy!

And there you have it kids - three delicious cupcakes to ring in the springtime air!

TOTAL COSTS: About $20
$5 for two containers of frosting to frost 24 cupcakes (8 of each kind)
$2.50 for mini chocolate chips
$3.50 for food coloring
$3.49 for parchment paper
$2.29 for coconut flakes
$3.29 for Starbursts
Plastic bags, Wilton tips, sprinkles, scissors, spatula, pencil, and cookie sheet already on hand

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: Varies per cupcake
The chick cupcakes took 20 minutes
The daisy cupcakes took 30 minutes to make, 1 hour to harden, and 10 minutes to redo... hopefully you don't have to do that part
The carrot cupcakes took 1 hr., 30 minutes to decorate 9 (however, making 27 carrots took about 30 minutes!)

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): Varies per cupcake
The chicks were definitely the easiest to make, and the carrots were the most time-consuming, but those two were definitely easier than trying to get those daisies to come out right. I should have used buttercream frosting but oh well, my improvised flowers worked well enough!

1 comment:

  1. Starbursts!?!? I never even THOUGHT of that. Cool.