I was asked to do chocolate cupcakes with blue icing and monkeys on top for a one year old birthday celebration.
Not to be anti-climactic but here is the final cupcake product just so you know what I'll be getting to.
|Follow my instructions to make these|
Part 1 will be the cupcakes.
Part 2 will be the monkeys.
This monkey was the original inspiration for these guys.
|Birthday boy's favourite stuffy|
I'll list the original recipe first. Then my changes and photos after to make it easier for you to cut and paste if needed.
First we have to make cupcakes.
|Learn to make these|
Chocolate Cupcakes (Recipe Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate Cake)
Makes about 45 regular cupcakes (or 2 eight-inch square or 3 eight-inch round layers)
- for cake (not cupcakes) - unsalted butter for cake pans
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for cake pans)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (substitute 1 1/2 tbsp topped up to 1 1/2 cups with regular milk - let sit 5 min)
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If making cupcakes, just fill the cupcake/muffin tins with liners. If making cakes butter round or square cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment, and dust with cocoa.
- Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, stir in eggs, 1 1/2 cups warm water, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla until smooth, about 3 minutes.
- For cupcakes, fill with a large ice cream scoop filled to about 1/4 inch from the top. Bake about 25-27 minutes until toothpick comes out clean and dry. (For cake, divide batter among prepared pans. Bake, rotating once, until tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes for 8-inch layers, depending on amount of batter.)
- Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely, right side up on rack.
|I used Fry's cocoa and 2% milk|
|Love these brown cupcake liners|
You can buy brown cupcake liners online at Confectionery House. I was lucky a local baking supply store Scoop-N-Save in Langley, B.C. (I know, sounds like a kitty litter place) has them in stock.
|Dry ingredients all in - very full bowl|
Be careful to go slow with the mixer
|A very wet batter = very moist cupcakes|
|Fill a large ice cream scoop to slightly below the top|
|Filled about 2/3 of the way (best to use ice cream scoop method above)|
|Cooling - don't eat them yet even though|
they'll smell divine
|Perfect small dome for this project|
Not a huge muffin top
|They can't all be perfect - the kids and Mr. TC love eating the rejects|
You could adapt these to mini cupcakes and probably reduce the baking time to ab0ut 17 minutes. Try it out in your oven and use your toothpicks to test for doneness.
Even though this was a kids birthday I chose a slightly less sweet icing recipe. This buttercream takes a bit more finesse to make but it is worth the effort as it is light in texture but still sweet enough for the kids). You will need a candy thermometer.
Makes 4 1/2 cups
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 5 large egg whites (buy pasteurized egg whites in a container to reduce risk of salmonella)
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled cut into small chunks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil. Continue boiling until syrup reaches 238 degrees.on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage). As soon as it hits this point, race over to your mixer.
- Meanwhile you will have to prepare the egg whites. Place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks but not dry; do not overbeat.
- With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, beating on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Add butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; beat in vanilla. If icing curdles, keep beating until smooth. If you just use the whisk the icing never looks smooth. So after beating for at least 5 minutes with the whisk use your paddle attachment for another few minutes until it looks like most air bubbles are gone and icing is smooth.
|On high until 238 (soft ball stage)|
|Egg whites with cream of tartar beat into|
stiff peaks before adding sugar syrup
|Beating with paddle attachment to finish off|
- almost all air bubbles gone
Next to colour the icing. The birthday boy's mom had a very specific blue in mind. It's always hard to tell what the gel food colouring will actually look like so I had to try a few. You can use liquid food colouring instead but I only have gels because they work well with fondant and gumpaste.
|This was the final choice - Royal Blue|
|Sky blue a bit too teal|
|Cornflower blue too gray|
|Baby boy blue|
|Using a 1M tip for a pretty swirl|
Using a piping bag and icing tip is really easier than just using a butter knife and spreading it on. Here is the Wilton's page of how to frost with a 1M tip.
I don't hesitate to use a butterknife to scrape off frosting and redo a cupcake until it's perfect.
|Cupcakes done, now onto the monkeys|
By the way, birthday boys mom also loves polka dots. So I rolled out some brown fondant very thinly and used the tip of a large round piping tip to cut out some polka dots and sprinkled them over top of the cupcakes. Do this step right after icing them. Otherwise it's hard to get the polka dots to sit well in icing that has hardened.
|Fondant polka dots|
These are great basics for any party and bake sale. Now if you want to step it up then head on to part 2 - Monkey Figurines.