I made these adorable cupcakes for my grandma's 76th birthday.
Ever since I made cupcakes last summer, my grandma has been talking excitedly about "those small cakes" (In Denmark, cupcakes are a relatively new phenomenon), so I decided to make cupcakes for her birthday this year. I found out that spice cake is her favorite cake, so of course the cupcakes had to be made of spice cake. I think dark red roses complement my grandma very well, so those had to be part of the decoration (unfortunately, I didn't have enough red food coloring, so the buttercream roses turned out pink instead, but they were cute too). In addition, these cupcakes are an homage to my grandma's large garden that she tends: Apple sauce made from apples from her trees, fall raspberries from the garden, and roses from her bushes. I had initially also though of putting her homemade black-currant preserves in the center of the baked cupcakes, but I forgot everything about it.
And then, of course, I wanted to show you some of all the possibilities and varying decorating techniques there are for cupcakes. As you probably will see, these cupcakes include several elements, and you can certainly choose to use only some of them. For example, you could just spread the frosting on instead of piping it. Or you could pipe the frosting and omit the chocolate accents. You could also make just one variation (even though I think at least two or three variations really give the plate of cupcakes a lift). In the end of this instructable, I will show you some pictures of some simpler cupcakes I made last summer.
So now it is time to start that inner creativity motor! And don't forget to vote for me in the cake decorating contest! Thanks!
Step 1: The Cupcakes
Whisk together 200 g. apple sauce, 100 g. brown sugar, 100 g. cane sugar, 50 g. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. orange zest (from about 1 orange), 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. ginger, and 1/8 tsp. cloves. Sift in 150 g. flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, and 4 Tbsp. corn starch. Whisk only till the batter is smooth.
Spoon the batter into 20 muffin liners in muffin pans. Bake the muffins at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes in a convection oven.
Step 2: The Frosting
Beat together 100 g. vegan margarine or buttery spread and 300 g. powdered sugar/confectioners sugar. Squeeze half a orange or lemon and add the juice little by little while whipping till the frosting has the right consistensy.
Note: I had to make one-and-a-half batch frosting because I added too much color when making the roses, so I had to dilute it with more pure frosting. However, one batch should be enough.
Step 3: Frosting the Cupcakes
When the cupcakes are cooled, they are ready to be frosted. I chose to flavor some of the frosting with cocoa powder to make two different frostings.
You will need a small closed star decorating tip (Ateco #30) for the white frosting and a large closed star decorating tip (unknown brand #852) for the cocoa frosting.
Pipe the white frosting on half of the cupcakes by making small shells in a spiral beginning at the outer edge and ending in a small star at the center. Shells are made by piping at a 45 degree angle while holding the tip still and then pulling away downwards while releasing the pressure. Repeat, making one shell after another.
Pipe the cocoa frosting in a swirl beginning at the outside and ending in the middle. Press hard to really make the swirl flare out.
Step 4: Buttercream Roses
The buttercream roses can actually be made ahead of time or while the cupcakes are baking and cooling. They need about an hour to freeze, so don't postpone them too long.
Color some of the frosting you made pink with some red and a little blue food coloring. The blue food coloring in combination with the slightly golden color of the frosting (from the margarine and the orange juice) changed the hue of the pink from little-girl pink to old-fashioned pink, since these cupcakes were for an adult.
Also, color a small portion of frosting light green with some blue, a good splash of yellow and a tiny bit of red (again to tone down the green so it is not so bright).
You will need a small petal decorating tip (Ateco #104), a small leaf tip (Ateco # 352), and optionally a writing tip (Ateco #2) for tendrils. I made a makeshift decorating nail by using a small plastic lid and adhering it to the funnel from a steam iron using sticky tack.
To make the roses, place a small dab of frosting on the nail to hold a piece of parchment paper in place. Using the petal tip and pink frosting, pipe a cone for the center of the rose. The pointed end of the tip should turn upwards at all times. Continue piping petals, lifting the tip upwards a bit at the middle of each petal to make it curved. When you are satisfied with the rose, slide the parchment paper off the nail and place it on a plate.
Repeat the process for as many roses as you want. You can alternate how large the roses are and how open they are. You can also try making small buds.
Place the roses in the freezer until you need them. They can keep covered several days and even weeks in the freezer.
To decorate the cupcakes, gently lift the roses off the parchment paper with a pair of scissors, grasping around the base of the roses. Place the roses on the cupcakes and pipe leaves using the leaf tip and green frosting. If you wish, you can pipe tendrils with the piping tip.
If you didn't understand my explanation of the piping technique for roses, there are plenty of great videos on youtube showing how to do it. :)
Step 5: Chocolate Accents
The chocolate decorations can also be made ahead of time.
(Pictures 1-5) First, melt and temper 100 g. dark chocolate (you will not need this much, but it is hard to temper a smaller portion). To do this, chop the chocolate and melt half of it in a water bath. Add the remaining chopped chocolate and stir till it has melted. Check to see if the chocolate is tempered by smearing some on a piece of parchment paper and putting it in the freezer. It should snap nicely when set. If the chocolate is not tempered, try letting it cool some more, give it a good stir, and test it again.
(Picture 6) To make the butterflies, find a good template or picture (I used this picture) and place a small piece of parchment paper on top. Put some chocolate in a paper cornet and pipe along the natural lines on the butterfly. Take the piece of parchment paper and put it in the freezer, placing it so the butterfly curves naturally. When the butterflies have set, brush them with edible silver dust.
(Pictures 7-10) To make the chocolate leaves, find some small, non-poisonous fresh leaves where the veins are clearly visible on the back. Wash and dry them well. Apply some chocolate on the back of each leaf with a fork or brush and let the chocolate harden in the freezer. Then, peel off the leaves. Make sure not to wait until the leaves have dried, as they are then impossible to peel off. Brush the chocolate leaves with edible gold dust.
(Pictures 11-12) To make the gold shavings, shave a piece of chocolate with a sharp knife. Mix the shavings with edible gold dust.
Step 6: The Finished Cupcakes (3 Variations)
With all the elements you just created, you can now make some awesome and varied cupcakes.
We already have:
- White and cocoa frosting
- Buttercream roses
- Chocolate butterflies, leaves and shavings
In addition, I used:
- Fresh roses, rasperries and leaves
- Edible silver beads and shimmering pearls
- More edible silver dust
I chose to combine these elements to make three variations:
1. Buttercream roses with chocolate butterflies and pearls on top of white frosting
2. Rasperries and raspberry leaves with gold shavings on cocoa frosting
3 Fresh roses with rose leaves and silver beads on cocoa or white frosting. Brush the edges of the rose petals with silver dust to give the roses a subtle shine. For one of the roses, I used chocolate leaves instead of fresh leaves.
So as you see, you can combine fresh flowers and berries with chocolate accents, pearls and piping techniques to make some really awesome cupcakes. And as I said in the introduction, you can also choose to just use some of these elements to make the cupcakes simpler and less time consuming. I just wanted to show you several different and contrasting techniques to decorate cupcakes and how these can be combined into one style.
If you liked this, please consider voting for me in the cake decorating contest! Thanks a lot!