Intro: Dungeons and Dragons Cupcakes
So you think you're an awesome baking nerd? Have you ever made cupcakes with chocolate D&D miniatures on them? No? That's about to change.
My husband's birthday this year fell on the same day as our weekly D&D game, and that called for something special to share with all our friends. What's a girl to do? I had seen piped chocolate decorations before, mostly hearts and other Martha Stewart-style kitsch, but what, I thought, if I made piped chocolate outlines of our characters? Never mind that I can't draw and I'd never, before that time, piped anything in my life. I wasn't about to let such paltry considerations stand between me and glory.
Step 1: What You'll Need
For the D&D miniatures:
1 bag melting chocolate (or real chocolate, if you're hardcore)
Decorating tips and couplers. I used a #3 round tip.
A drawing to trace
Clear notebook sheet protectors
For the cupcakes:
Your cupcake recipe of choice.
Your icing of choice. It should be a buttercream of something that has similar body.
Cupcake lining papers.
A 1M star cake decorating tip, with a coupler that matches
Step 2: Prepare Your Drawing
The first thing you're going to need is a drawing to trace. I happened to luck out, in that I hang around with a lot of talented artists. My friend Travis donated his skill to this particular project.
If you don't have access to any friendly artists, you can probably find lots of pictures on the internet to use.
The important thing to keep in mind is that all the lines have to be connected somehow, and you don't want to go into too much detail. Remember that you're gonna have to follow these lines with chocolate! My experience is that straight lines and gentle curves are pretty easy to trace, and sharp angles and curves are easy to trace, but slight angles are always gonna come out looking like curves.
Once you have your drawing, slip it into a clear sheet protector, because if you're anything like me, you're gonna be getting chocolate everywhere.
Step 3: Prepare Your Chocolate
I recommend doing the chocolate figures the day before you do the cupcakes, because they take a lot of time, make a lot of mess, and you're not gonna want to do them and then have to turn around and make cupcakes.
Put some melting chocolate in a bowl and nuke it in 30 second intervals until it's melted. Be careful, because there's a very short window between 'not quite melted' and 'burned and disgusting' that you want to fall into.
While the chocolate is melting, prepare a piping bag with a baking tip according to the instructions that came with the bags, then dump a couple globs of the melted chocolate inside. It's hot, so be careful.
If you're using for reals hardcore chocolate, you're on your own on this step. Tempering chocolate is above my pay grade.
Step 4: Time to Trace!
Now, get out your parchment paper and cut off a strip. Place your protected drawing on a cookie sheet, and the parchment over the drawing. If you have some magnets, these are great for securing the parchment so that it doesn't move around or roll on you, but you could probably use tape or something heavy.
As you can see, the drawing is a little hard to see through the paper. I think if I had this to do over again, I'd get Travis to fill in the lines so they were darker and easier to make out.
Once you're all set up, get tracing. And tracing. And tracing.
Trace until you become a crazy person. The chocolate figures are really fragile, so it's not a matter of whether some break, but rather of how many. Make extras.
Keep an eye on the consistency of your melted chocolate while your work. The heat from your hands will delay it cooling down on you, but eventually, it will. Once it starts getting difficult to squeeze, empty out the bag as well as you can into a bowl and re-nuke it.
Slide your finished figures onto a cookie sheet to set, and once they're good and set up, gently (GENTLY!) remove them from the parchment paper. They should come right off. Set them aside, somewhere where they won't get jostled or eaten.
Step 5: Prepare the Cupcakes
Make up your cupcake batter in accordance with the recipe/box instructions.
Put the paper cupcake wrappers into the baking dish and fill them about 2/3 of the way, then bake, then let them cool down.
Step 6: Ice the Cupcakes
Ever wanted to know how bakeries make that gorgeous swirl of buttercream frosting on their cupcakes? You're about to find out. Don't say I never did anything for you.
First thing's first: Prepare your frosting. Or open up the can, either way.
Attach the 1M star decorating tip to your decorating bag and fill with frosting. Now hold the tip straight up and down over a cupcake and, keeping the tip straight the whole time, make a spiral from the outside edge to the center. Top your spiral with a smaller spiral. Ta-da!
(Sorry for the lack of a picture of the finished spiral. The one I took came out looking pretty bad.)
Step 7: Finished!
Now all you have to do is press your chocolate figures gently into the frosting, and you're done! Step back and admire your work, and drink in the praise of awestruck gamers everywhere.