SOPHIE LEAKE: 10 Ways to Dress up a Plain Cupcake
While gourmet cupcake bakeries are on the rise, there’s no need to pay top dollar at a bakery for super cute and tasty birthday cupcakes when you can make them for much cheaper on your own. Check out these 10 ways to dress up a plain cupcake for your child’s next birthday.
- Flavored frosting with fruit makes an elegant cupcake decoration. Bake up your favorite vanilla or yellow cupcake and then add a few tablespoons of a fruit puree to the mix. Take the same fruit puree and add a tablespoon full to your favorite buttercream recipe. Now take some fresh fruit and top your frosted cupcake with it. This method works well with raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries.
- Plain frosting with sprinkles let you know it’s a party. Instead of adding vanilla to your buttercream frosting add 1 to 2 teaspoons of cotton candy flavoring. Frost your cupcakes like normal and sprinkle with jimmies. Sprinkles are always a fun and festive treat.
- Frost the cupcakes and then dip them in melted chocolate for a special treat. These special treats are called hi-hats. Instead of making a normal buttercream frosting, make a meringue type frosting. In a metal bowl beat 1 ¾ C sugar, ¼ C water, 3 large egg whites, and ¼ t of cream of tartar on high until it becomes frothy. Now place it over a pan of simmering water and continue to beat on high speed until you get stiff peaks. (They will hold their shape when you lift the beater.) This step takes 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in 1 t of vanilla extract and then put the meringue into a pastry bag and pipe the tops of the cupcakes. Now melt a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 3 T. of shortening in the microwave. Put the melted chocolate in a tall narrow container for dipping. Next, dip the cupcakes into the chocolate as if they were chocolate dipped ice cream cones and then allow them to cool.
- Use a cookie as a cupcake topper. If your child likes the combination of chocolate and peanut butter there’s a fun way to make a cupcake for him that combines both of his loves. Make your favorite chocolate cupcakes and allow them to cool. In the meantime, make some buttercream frosting and add in ¼ C. of peanut butter. Frost the cupcakes with the peanut butter frosting and top with a peanut butter sandwich cookie.
- Create small decorations out of fondant. Fondant is made of shortening and sugar. It rolls out like dough and you can buy it at most craft or baking stores. Using gel colors you can color your fondant any color you’d like. Dust the counter with powdered sugar and roll out the fondant so that it’s about ¼” thick. Using tiny cookie cutters cut out shapes that will coordinate with the theme of your party. You can lay the fondant on top of the frosted cupcake or let the fondant dry and then stand the shape up in the frosting.
- Give your cupcakes the airbrushed look. No need to buy an expensive airbrush to get the airbrushed look. The same coloring comes in an aerosol can now and can be used on cupcakes. Frost your cupcakes like normal and allow the frosting to crust (dry to the touch). Place the cupcakes on a newspaper covered surface. Using long strokes spray the top of the frosted cupcake. Make sure to start and stop off of the cupcake. If you’d like you can make them half and half by blocking half of the cupcake with a piece of cardboard while you are spraying.
- Make S’mores cupcakes using a kitchen torch. Instead of using frosting to frost your cupcake, use marshmallow cream. Have some mini chocolate bars or broken pieces of chocolate ready to stick into the marshmallow cream. Crush some graham crackers and keep them beside you in a bowl. Take a kitchen torch and toast the marshmallow cream, sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, and stick a piece of chocolate into the marshmallow.
- Dress up cookie dough cupcakes with mini chips and mini cookies. To make cookie dough cupcakes, take some store bought chocolate chip cookie dough and roll it into 1 inch balls. Make your chocolate or vanilla cupcake batter as usual, but before baking add the cold cookie dough to the center of the cupcake. Make the cookie dough chunks big enough so they are not fully submerged in batter. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost with vanilla buttercream, sprinkle with mini chocolate chips, and top with a mini chocolate chip cookie.
- Edible sugared flowers will add a touch of whimsy to your cupcakes. Edible flowers are available at specialty grocery stores. Buy a mixture of edible flowers and lay them out on some waxed paper. Beat up an egg white and pour it into a shallow bowl. Pour some superfine sugar into another shallow bowl. Take your flowers, one at a time, and dip them first into the egg white and then into the sugar. Place the coated flowers back on the waxed paper to dry. Frost your cupcakes like normal and top right away with a sugared flower.
- Add chocolate cut-out flowers for a springtime birthday. Melt a cup of candy melts with 1 T of shortening. Spread it onto a piece of waxed paper about 1/8” thick. Place onto the bottom side of a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes. Once the chocolate is set remove from the refrigerator. Take a small metal cookie cutter in the shape of a flower and dip it into a small bowl of hot water. Dry it off and quickly use the warm cookie cutter to cut out flowers from the chocolate. Frost the cupcakes with green frosting and apply the chocolate flowers to the cupcakes. Using a little frosting you can apply M&M’s to the centers of the flowers. Do one flower or a whole bouquet on each cupcake.