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Twilight, Travel, and Treats

Reflections of a Twihard on all things twilight, travel, and treats.

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.

Italian Meringue Buttercream (Recipe Martha Stewart)


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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Safe Eggs said...

Skip the liquid eggs in a carton and use REAL, safe shell eggs -- Davidson's Safest Choice!

Jen said...

WOW those are all so amazing!!! I made red velvet cupcakes yesterday with Vanilla icing...ok ok ok I used Duncan Hines cake mix and pre made icing...However, they were delish. I have had trouble in the past with them either being too high, or too low. This time they mostly came out perfect. I had 2 rejects which of course I kept for myself & NST boyfriend. Took the rest to work this morning. Thanks for all the informative info...totally going to attempt the ones from scratch!

twilightcupcake said...

Jen, they sound yummy. We can't get red velvet mix up here, not sure why. I also use Duncan Hines on occasion and it is very moist. If it wasn't for the fact that my baking company with my sister in law is called "Cakes from Scratch" I'm sure I'd use the mix more. The too high and low can be an issue. Sometimes if they're too high I'll actually use a tea towel and press down on them when they're fresh out of the oven.
Try the Martha stewart chocolate one bowl. It really is foolproof. As mini-cupcakes they don't turn out as well but are good for general cake and regular cupcakes.