These are spice cupcakes topped with a cinnamon-vanilla buttercream frosting. I decorated them with homemade chocolate leaves and served them on completely edible chocolate wheelbarrows.
I hope you enjoy making them as much as I enjoyed coming up with the idea and creating them. They would make an excellent dessert at Thanksgiving or even Halloween.
Step 1: Spice Cake Cupcakes
For this spice cake, I decided to use nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger because they remind me of autumn. This cake recipe makes 12 delicious cupcakes.
1/4 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 1/3 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 mixing bowls
paper cupcake liners
To make the cupcakes:
1) Preheat your oven to 350 °F
2) Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
3) In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
4) Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the sugar/butter/vanilla/egg mixture. Slowly add the milk. Mix well using a large spoon.
5) Evenly spoon the batter into 12 cupcake cups lined with paper liners. Bake for about 16 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean). Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool.
Step 2: Cinnamon-Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
I had been wanting to try this recipe for cinnamon-vanilla buttercream frosting from this Bakergirl Blog: http://buddingbaketress.blogspot.ca/
The recipe she gives is enough to frost about 4 cupcakes. But you can easily double or triple the recipe if you want to frost more cupcakes.
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon shortening
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large bowl
Large star piping tip
To make the frosting:
1) Add the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and blend together with an electric mixer until thick and creamy.
2) Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and milk and continue blending until well combined. You can add more cinnamon if you want a stronger cinnamon taste.
To decorate the cupcakes:
1) Spoon the frosting into a piping bag with a large open star tip. Pipe the frosting starting in the center of the cupcake, slowly and gently swirl your way to the outside. It is going to be eventually covered in chocolate leaves so don't worry if your swirl isn't picture perfect.
Step 3: Chocolate Wheelbarrows
I saw these cardboard wheelbarrows online: http://ttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Peter-Rabbit-Wheelbarrow-Cupcake-Holder/dp/1615866485. However, I decided to try and make my own version completely edible and make them out of chocolate treats.
Reese's peanut butter cups (2 cups per wheelbarrow)
Chocolate covered finger cookies (4 cookies per wheelbarrow)
Chocolate ice wafer cookies (2 per wheelbarrow)
Chocolate for melting (it is going to serve as your glue)
Before you start, I would recommend putting the chocolate finger cookies and the Reese's peanut butter cups in the freezer. They become quite soft and warm up quickly as you handle them, so it makes it easier and less messy to start off with them already chilled.
Knife (for cutting the ice wafers)
Small knife or spatula (for spreading your glue)
Electric Chocolate Melter **
**I am lucky enough to have an electric chocolate melter (Thanks to Instructables!) which keeps the chocolate melted without it burning. If you don't have one, I would recommend microwaving the chocolate until it is melted. You may need to remelt the chocolate between steps as it tends to harden quite quickly.
Step 4: Chocolate Wheelbarrow (Wheel & Attachment)
The first step to make a wheelbarrow is to make the wheel and its attachment for attaching it to the rest of the wheelbarrow.
To make the wheel:
Take 2 peanut butter cups and place a dollop of melted chocolate on the bottom of one of the cups. Gently press the other peanut butter cup on top. To help the chocolate harden more quickly put the wheel in the freezer for 1-2 minutes.
To make the attachment:
Take one chocolate finger cookie and place melted chocolate on the flat side at the tip of the cookie. Press the cookie down onto the center of a peanut butter cup. Let this set in the freezer. Repeat to the other side of the wheel using another chocolate finger cookie.
Step 5: Chocolate Wheelbarrow (Cupcake Seat)
The next step is to make the part of the wheelbarrow that will display your cupcake.
To make the cupcake seat:
Cut approximately 1/4 off of each chocolate ice wafer, because they are longer than necessary to hold a cupcake. Glue the 2 chocolate ice wafers together side-by-side by placing a strip of melted chocolate along the long edge of one wafer and press gently together with the other wafer. Let this piece harden in the freezer for 1-2 minutes.
Note: If you are like me you will be tempted to eat the excess wafer that you cut off. But, you are actually going to need them for last step, so you'll have to restrain yourself.
Step 6: Chocolate Wheelbarrow (Handles)
The handles for the wheelbarrow are made of chocolate finger cookies and are glued to the cupcake seat.
To make the handles:
Place melted chocolate along the flat edge of about 1/2 of a chocolate finger cookie. Glue the finger cookie on the side of the cupcake seat, so that the other half of the chocolate finger cookie is sticking out. Take a second chocolate finger cookie and repeat this step to the other side of cupcake seat.
Step 7: Chocolate Wheelbarrow (Assembly)
You need to assemble your wheelbarrow by attaching the cupcake seat and handles to the wheel.
To assemble your wheelbarrow:
Place melted chocolate on the tops of the chocolate fingers that form the wheel attachment. Glue the attachment to the cupcake seat so it is evenly spaced on the seat. This is now the underside of the cupcake seat. Let the wheelbarrow harden in the freezer for 1-2 minutes. Once the chocolate is hardened you need to carefully turn the wheelbarrow over so it is right side up.
The wheelbarrow will naturally sit slanted on an angle. To prop up the wheelbarrow to display the cupcakes, simple place each of the extra pieces of the ice wafers leftover from making the cupcake seat (if you didn't follow my earlier warning and ate them you will need to cut them again), under each chocolate finger wheel attachment.
Your wheelbarrow is now complete and ready to serve your cupcakes.
Step 8: Chocolate Leaves
These leaves are easier than they look. And what I like most about them is they don't need to look perfect, any imperfections just end up making the leaves look more real.
Ingredients & Kitchen Supplies:
**Leaves from outside (various types and sizes)
Orange and/or Yellow Melting chocolate ( I used Wilton Candy Melts that I purchased at Michaels)
Popsicle stick or wooden skewer
Bee's Wax Salad Bowl Finish (optional)
Bowl filled with warm soapy water
Electric Chocolate Melter
**I gathered leaves that were small and different shapes. Don't choose leaves that are really thin or brittle. I found that if the leaf was too thin it would just rip when you tried to peel off the chocolate.
To make the chocolate leaves:
Fill a bowl with warm soapy water and swish the leaves gently around to clean them. Then rinse the leaves in clean water and blot them dry on a paper towel. You will be putting chocolate directly onto the leaves so you want them to be nice and clean.
Melt orange, yellow, and milk chocolate. I melted them at the same in my chocolate melter but kept each color in a separate spot of the pot. Its okay if they mix a little bit with each other, but you don't want them to completely mix. Alternatively, you could melt each color in a separate bowl in the microwave.
Rub the leaves with a little bit of bee's wax. I found that certain leaves were much more difficult to peel the chocolate off of. Some naturally have a bit of a waxy feel to them while others don't. Using the bee's wax is not essential but depending on the type of leaves you are using could make it much easier to peel the leaf off of the chocolate.
Using a wooden skewer select a mix of orange, yellow and brown chocolate and spread a thick coat (about the thickness of a 5 cent coin) on the backside of the leaf (the side of the leaf where the veins are more prominent and ridge-like). Make sure the is a fairly thick amount of chocolate evenly covering the entire leaf. If it is too thin it will be very difficult to peel off and will be very fragile. Swirl the colors to create the look of an autumn leaf. Have fun making the leaves different colors and patterns. Once you have covered all your leaves in chocolate place them on a plate and put them in the freezer for about 3 minutes. Make sure the chocolate is completely hardened before you attempt to peel off the leaf.
To peel off the leaf, start at the edge of the leaf and gently peel it away from the chocolate. Try to do it slowly as it is ideal if the leaf comes off in one piece. If it does not come off in one piece, gently peel away the extra pieces from the chocolate.
Step 9: Putting It All Together
Now for the fun part! It is time to decorate your cupcakes with the leaves and display them on the wheelbarrows.
Place a frosted cupcake onto the wheelbarrow. Gently place your chocolate leaves on top of a cupcake to resemble a pile of leaves and scatter a few leaves around the plate.