This project is not difficult - my kid even helped me create some--it's kind of like working with playdough, but it IS time consuming. But the results are just too cool!
The birds themselves are (mostly) cake donut holes, covered in marshmallow fondant. Marshmallow fondant is cheap and easy to make, and tastes much better than regular fondant, however it doesn't get or stay as stiff as regular fondant (particularly the next day, it tends to droop), so you can't make these quite as 3D as you could with regular fondant. But they are much tastier than a ball of 'real' fondant would be!
Step 1: Prepare your cupcake base
I'd suggest doing this the day before.
Save about 1/2 cup of icing for the bird preparation step.
If you want to do a yellow triangle bird, you'll need a square block of cake to cut your pyramid shape out of. I made a small loaf pan of some of the extra batter from the cupcake batch, and used that. You could also just a small loaf of purchased poundcake or similar.
Step 2: Make your marshmallow fondant
Make this the night before.
Follow the recipe here: http://foodwhirl.com/techniques/technique-make-marshmallow-fondant
For 12 birds, you can do 1/2 recipe (1 lb sugar and 8 oz (1/2 large bag) marshmallows). But to be on the safe side since it's cheap, you can go ahead and make the whole batch -- that way you don't have to worry about running out., and allows for mistakes where you have to redo a bird.
Also, I didn't have any Crisco on hand, so I just skipped using it. Your hands get sticky at the beginning, but just keep working with it and you'll be fine.
Step 3: Other Ingredients/Tools
In addition to the cupcakes, and your batch of fondant, you'll also need the following:
- Food coloring (preferably the paste kind) in Black, Yellow, Blue, Red, & Green
- A large straw (McDonald's straws are great for this)
- Donut holes
- Butter-mint candies or other small, roundish candy like a Whopper (malted milk ball)
- Cake to make the triangle bird (You'll need a square block of cake to cut your pyramid shape out of. I made a small loaf pan of some of the extra batter from the cupcake batch, and used that. You could also just a small loaf of purchased poundcake or similar.)
- 1/2 cup icing (maybe--may not be necessary.)
- Either tiny round nonpareils in a dark color, or black decorator gel or edible ink (to make the pupils of the eyes)
- round cookie cutters or glasses in different sizes to cut out circles.
- corn starch / extra powdered sugar
Step 4: Color your fondant
Split each of your quarters in half again to make eighths.
Kneed in your food coloring into each ball.
(For darker colors like black and red, I tend to work with only 1/2 a ball or smaller, so i don't have to add so much color. )
Yellow for yellow birds & beaks.
Blue for blue birds and 'black eyes' for the pigs.
Green for pigs (If you're doing a lot of pigs, then go ahead and color a second ball)
Split your ball for black in half again, and do half as grey and half as charcoal grey(this is the hardest to work with, because you need to really work it a great deal to get a decent charcoal grey to double for black. )
Red for red bird (and a little pink for blue bird's eyes.
Leave two white for white birds and white details like eyes, and the red bird's belly.
Once you have the colors you need, you're ready to begin.
Step 5: The Head/body (large)
[My donut holes had granulated sugar on the outside, which seemed to show through the fondant, so I coated some of them in leftover frosting before for covering, but if your donut hole is smooth, this shouldn't be necessary. Try it 'bare' first and see how it does, as it tends to be easier to work with that way. ]
Roll out a small amount of your fondant to about 1/8 in thick.
Cut out a 4 in or so circle.
Drape the circle over your donut hole, and let it sit. Gravity is your friend here and it will do much of the work for you.
After it sits for a bit (do several more while you are waiting) carefully use your fingers to stretch and stroke the dough around your ball. Ideally you can do this without any folds, but many of mine seemed to end up with a few. Trim excess off the bottom, and tuck the edges under the bottom of the ball.
Step 6: Body (small)
These are even easier to do because you don't have to worry as much about neatness.
Just cut out a small circle, and wrap it around the candy. Press it together as best you can, then when you've covered the candy completely, just roll it in your palm like you were making a dough ball, and smooth everything out!
Step 7: Body - Yellow
- Take a cube of cake about 2 in high. Carve into a 3 sided pyramid.
- Coat the outside with icing.
- Place on top of an overturned shot glass.
- Roll out your fondant
- Drape a large piece over the pyramid
- Trim excess, leaving enough to tuck under.
- Tuck edges under the bottom of the bird.
Step 8: Eyes
Red, white, and yellow Birds
The simplest way to do eyes is to use your large straw to cut out a bunch of white circles, and a bunch of black (or dark grey) circles.
Then flatten the dark circle slightly so it is a little bigger than the white.
Then dampen the back of the white and adhere it to the dark. Presto, a white eye with a dark outline!
Add eyebrows either by cutting a strip, or making a small snake.
White circle (from the straw), then a crescent shape in pink attached under it.
Bomb (Grey) Bird
Larger light grey circle (I used a bottle mouth as a cookie cutter) with a white circle on top
For pigs to look hurt, use a teardrop of blue slightly larger than the white circle, placed under the white.
Step 9: Face Details - Birds
Use black or feather color to make a few feathers on the top of the head.
Add a black snake with a yellow ball on the end to the top of his head.
Add a white eye dot between his eyes.
Add a quarter sized circle of grey to his chest.
Mix a pinch of your yellow with a pinch of white to make light yellow. Make two small balls, and flatten to make cheeks.
Optional: In a small ball of yellow, add a drop of red and kneed to get a yellow-orange. Use this for beak color, or just use plain yellow
Optional: add a few white jelly beans next to him, since he drops eggs.
Step 10: Face details - Pigs
I cut out the snout using the mouth of a bottle, then squished it down to make it more oblong.