For my son's 5 year old birthday party, he wanted to combine his two favorite things, "Phineas & Ferb" and "Star Wars" . Interesting combo, no? For the Clone Wars section of the birthday party, we came up with the idea for upside down clone trooper helmet cupcakes. These cupcakes were the hit of the party with the five-year-old boy set, though I will warn you, they are a bit time consuming to assemble. But well worth it!
They are not only impressive looking, they are also tasty. The marshmallow fondant on the outside actually tastes like marshmallows, not not regular, mediocre tasting fondant.
These cupcakes could easily also be adapted to be Storm Troopers rather than Clone Troopers, if your Star Wars fan is more old school. Simple change the pattern on the cupcake!
Step 1: The Cupcakes
You’ll need good firm cake, similar to pound cake. Here’s the recipe I used. I don’t know if it was luck, or overfilling the cupcake cups, but this cupcake came out with a nicely flat top, which is exactly what is needed (for Storm troopers instead of Clone troopers, a rounded top would be better).
Ideally, your cupcakes should be extra tall, so use a tall cupcake pan (like this one: Wilton 6 Cup Kingsize Muffin Pan). If you don't have something like that, improvise with oven safe cups that would have a similar shape.
The cupcakes must be tall for this to work, so overfill the cups. Bake a few extra cupcakes or cake in any sort of pan, to use as cake ball mixture. Since you want smooth sides, don’t bake in muffin cups. Either grease and flour the pans very well, and/or line with strips of parchment paper (that’s what I did) to prevent sticking.
Step 2: Decoration Ingredients/Tools
- Cream Cheese or Buttercream frosting, enough to thinly coat the outside of each cupcake (My recipe: Cream together 1 stick butter, 1 8oz cream cheese. Add 1 tsp vanilla, then slowly add 1 lb powered sugar, beat thoroughly)
- Marshmallow fondant. (Make this in advance – I’d go ahead and make the whole batch, that should more than enough for 1 dozen large cupcakes–probably enough for 24.)
- Food coloring: Black paste coloring is required, then whatever colors you want for decorations (blue, green, yellow are popular)
- Cornstarch (for rolling out the fondant)
- Extra cake/cupcakes, crumbled + extra frosting, for cake ball mixture.*
- Optional: white tootsie rolls or other similar candy to reinforce the ridge on top.
- Drinking straw
crumble 1 -2 cupcakes worth of cake. Mix in a large spoonful of icing. Test to see if the mixture stays together. If not, add a little more icing and repeat. You're looking for it to be able to be made into a ball without falling apart.
Step 3: Cake Preparation
- If your cupcake has a rounded top, trim it flat. then turn your cupcake upside down.
- Using a sharp knife, trim out ‘cheeks’ on the side of the cupcake, as shown in the photo above.
- The top of the helmet is rounded, and our cupcake is flat. So we need to add a little height. Make a tablespoon sized ball with your cake ball mixture from the previous step. Press flat, and shape to the top of your head (see photo)
Step 4: Frosting the Cupcake
Before we cover with fondant, well coat the entire surface with frosting, to smooth out the rough spots and help the fondant to stick.
Cover the entire cupcake (except the bottom) with a thin coat of your buttercream or other frosting.
[optional - roll a small 1/4in wide snake of kneaded tootsie roll (or other pliable, kneadable candy) and place on the top of the head, to help form the ridge on the top of the helmet.]
Step 5: Cover With Fondant
Start with a ball of fondant about the size of your fist, coat it and the work surface and the rolling pin with cornstarch. Roll out a 1/8″ thick circle, about 3x taller and wider than the diameter of your cupcake. (More tips on rolling fondant found here)
Cover the cupcake
Place your cupcake up on upturned glass about the same diameter as your cupcake. Centering your fondant over the cupcake, CAREFULLY drape. Let it sit for a while so gravity helps to stretch it around the cake to fit well, with minimal folding. Make sure the front and sides are smooth, then you can trim and remove any extra fondant from the back, making a seam. Pinch the fondant at the ridge to help define the helmet ridge on top.
Gently press in at the cheeks. For any excess on the bottom, trim to 1/2 inch, then tuck under the bottom of the helmet.
I found it best to start with one cupcake, and get it right, then assembly line the rest.
Step 6: Decorate the Face
Start with one cupcake to get the hang of things, then you can start cutting out shapes assembly line fashion.
First we are going to add some color to our fondant.
Start with a plum sized ball and kneed in black paste food coloring until you achieve a nice even black color.
Kneed yellow, green, and/or blue into another ball to get your accent colors.
With some of the remaining white fondant, you can accentuate the helmet.
Add additional fondant to the ridge of the helmet if needed to enhance the look. Add strips to either side for the ear areas (I have no idea what to call it!). Press the end of a straw into the top of the ear sections to create the circle. (See photo 3 to see ear areas)
Roll the black fondant very thin.
You’ll be cutting it into shapes and adhering them to the face.
Cut out your black eye/mouth section as shown in the photo. (sort of a jagged hourglass).
Be creative here. I found that cutting out a thin triangle also worked well for the eyes (You'll also need an inverted "V" for the mouth area) , but look at pictures of clone troopers to get ideas.
Dampen the back, and press on to your face.
Next you'll add colored accents. You can roll thin and cut into strips as before, or just make little snakes and press around the outside of the eyes, down the chin, and as stripes on the helmet top. Just look at pictures of clone troopers for inspiration--they have different patterns.
Step 7: Build Your Clone Army!
Once you get the hang of things, start cutting out your pieces and adhering assembly line style.
Do not refrigerate, but store in a cool place. The fondant gets softer overnight, and I had a couple that fell over and had a few scars, which I patched over with icing. But be CAREFUL with them!
(Note, when viewing the group photos attached to this instructable, be aware some of mine were done on cupcakes with rounded tops, and I don’t recommend that for stability reasons as well as aesthetics. Also I was running out of fondant (I used more than I planned for the Perry the Platypus Cake) so my later clone attempts are not as good as the prototype shown in this tutorial.)
These cupcakes could easily also be adapted to be Storm Troopers rather than Clone Troopers, if your Star Wars fan is more old school. Simple change the pattern on the cupcake - see last image for an idea of how to do that; and although you COULD use a cupcake with a slightly rounded top, be careful if you do, because they will be less stable and more prone to fall over.