Okay, so once again the title may be a little misleading...on more than one count...
First of all, I do not mean that I am going to teach you how to make cupcakes that LOOK LIKE Lady GaGa, as tempting as that sounds. I feel her dramatic likeness would be more a project for The Cake Boss, or even Bakerella.
Second, I do not mean to infer that Gene Simmons wears a frilly apron and bakes delightful little cupcakes for his band, and that I am here as his Cupcake Ambassador to teach you the tricks of his trade.
No, what I REALLY mean is that I have learned a few tricks that help my cupcakes look like Gene Simmons or Lady GaGa might order from a FANCY BAKERY.
And, just in case you are looking for a tutorial on creating skulls and crossbones or electric guitars with 6 shades of grey and black fondant, just stop right there and re-google your search. Maybe this time you should enter the words, "Scary cupcakes that no one wants to eat."
So, maybe what my title SHOULD BE is this: How to make good-tasting, fancy-looking cupcakes. But, geez, what a cheesy title.
You might be thinking that since this post really should have a cheesy title, then what business does this cheesy girl have telling me how to make cupcakes?
Besides my nunchuck skillz and bow hunting skillz, I have acquired some cupcake skillz along the way. If you happened to read the post about my 40th birthday trip, you'll remember we had some personal instruction from the Dallas-famous Annie of Annie's Culinary Creations. (I always have a disclaimer for you, and here it is today: My cupcake creations PALE in comparison to Annie's...)
Oh, and one more thing...Because I already tend to write posts that are at least 26 1/2 inches long, I'll divide this post in two parts--the part about the cake, and the part about the icing.
Since everybody's FAVORITE part is the icing, let's start with that part this week! (If your favorite part is not the icing, then you are strange and you probably also like beets and turnip greens....No offense to the beet farmers or turnip green restaurants!)
Part 1: Is it ICING or FROSTING? The Age-Old Debate...
Behold the cupcakes!!!
(Cue rockstar guitar riffs)
From my daughter's birthday, to match her new turquoise and brown bedroom!
Remember the WFMW where I told you about our Flip Flop Exchange Party? Here are some cutie pie mini cupcakes from that party!
So, let's get started, my little junior rock stars...
FROSTING TOTALLY RAD CUPCAKES
(Yes, I'm aware that no one has used that phrase in like 20 years. But, it seemed to fit with my rockstar theme.)
Please, oh please, do not admit that you use frosting from a can. Unless you are just scooping out a spoon of frosting for the occasional afternoon snack, store-bought frosting is not fittin, it's not fittin, it's jest not fittin. Hum. (Name that movie)
My favorite icing recipe is from The Wilton School. It is a mixture of half vegetable shortening (Crisco sticks for me!) and butter. I know that some purists (who gag at the thought of eating Crisco) use only butter. But, in my experience a pure-butter frosting is a LOT softer, and more difficult to hold its shape when decorating.
Buttercream Icing (from The Wilton School)
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (use white Crisco sticks--very easy)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract (I use dark pure vanilla)
4 cups (approx. 1 lb.) powdered sugar (I use C&H brand)
2 tablespoons milk
YIELD: 3 cups
Refrigerate leftover icing for up to 2 weeks.
Click here for detailed instructions.
I use 2-3 teaspoons dark, pure vanilla
I add 2 teaspoons almond flavoring
I add 1 teaspoon imitation butter flavoring
Because of the dark vanilla I use, my frosting is not white--it is a creamy off-white.
Now that you are sick to your stomach from trying just one more lick and one more lick of the frosting, let me tell you the trick that I have learned that makes decorating fabulous cupcakes EASY!
Wilton likes to call it the "1m Swirl." I prefer calling it The Swirley Top. If you've ever spent an hour spreading icing onto cupcakes with a table knife, spread no more--You will LOVE this technique!
Isn't this cute? To achieve this swirley, all you need is a decorating bag, and a decorating tip.
You can buy these at Wal-Mart (in the craft /scrapbook section), Hobby Lobby, Michael's, or online at www.wilton.com.
Basically, you just use the large 2D star tip, hold the bag upright over the cupcake, and outline the outside of the cupcake, then the middle, pulling up at the very center. For Wilton's more concise, and fancified instructions, click here.
If you need just little bites of something sweet, try making the mini cupcakes! They are the cutest thing ever on a pretty table. I promise you--they will be the star of the table!
Use a mini muffin pan, mini muffin cupcake papers, the small star tip, and proceed just as you would on the larger cupcakes. (And by "proceed," I don't mean EAT.)
Now, you have pretty Swirley Top cupcakes, but DON'T STOP HERE! We don't want baldy fernaldy cupcakes, do we?
ALWAYS top your cupcake with a little something. Usually, for me, that just means sprinkle with a tiny bit of colored sugar. Just a little sprinkling right in the middle adds the perfect touch. If you only have multicolored sprinkles--use them. Just the tiniest sprinkle in the middle adds a touch of whimsy. If you noticed in the picture above of my daughter's birthday cupcakes, I used a teensy bit of chocolate sprinkles.
If you want to get extra-fancy, purchase some edible glitter (from the same places), and add a tiny bit of shimmer to the tops! Remember--less is more, so don't get carried away.
One last bit of advice...PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING!!
A cupcake is just a cupcake sitting on a paper plate... (Heaven forbid!)
But, a set of cupcakes on a tiered platter is "WOW, where did you purchase these?" If you don't own a tiered platter, or two cake stands (different sizes) that stack together, or even a cake stand--you should INVEST IN ONE. You can find them anywhere, and for not very much money. If you are going to make cupcakes, you should have a tiered stand.
And a set of cupcakes on a tiered platter with some shimmery tulle tied on top is, "WHAT ROCKSTAR BROUGHT THESE???"
Tell me your cupcake stories, pretty please! What are your favorite tricks? What are the prettiest ones you've ever seen?
Linked up with:
(In other words, CLICK ON for some really GREAT ideas!)
Favorite Things Friday at A Few of My Favorite Things
Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family
Penny Pinching Party at Thrifty Home