Monday, 25 February 2013

Animal cupcakes: chicks, pigs, frogs and mice

Last week found me making two batches of cupcakes for Sylvia's birthday.  One was decorated with sprinkles and the other batch became farm animals inspired by Hold the Beef and Pinterest.  I baked and decorated the cupcakes after work.  It was a challenge that saw me cycling to the supermarket in the dark for icing sugar, allowing Sylvia stay up late to help with some and finishing around midnight.  They made the kids happy.  That makes it worthwhile.

I made about 18 cupcakes (using cupcake papers that are slightly smaller than muffin papers) using the Butterless Butter Cake recipe that I had used for her birthday last year.  Then I found I didn't have enough icing sugar.  Hence my emergency dash to the shops.  When I returned Sylvia wasn't asleep.  She was up and waiting to help out.  I know I should have sent her to bed but she was so sweet helping me.  She knew she had to be on her best behaviour.

The animals that Conor made in Hold the Beef were a chicken, mouse, pig, and monkey.  Sylvia decided we had to have frogs.  I think it might have had something to do with her best friend having frog cupcakes last year.  I was pleased to have some green cupcakes, even if I couldn't find a template to do exactly as I wanted.  A little improvisation was all the was needed.  (But I urge you to check out Conor's drawings she made to plan her cupcakes.)

As you can see, we had far more lollies that we needed - m&ms galore, jelly beans and marshmallows.  (A note on the marshmallows.  The ones we used had gelatine and weren't vegetarian.)  When you see my piping, you might understand why I love decorating with lollies.  Maybe it is a lack of practice, but I can't pipe icing to save myself.

It was lots of fun.  We ate too many lollies, despite being on best behaviour.  I got food colouring all over my fingers.  Sylvia was a mess of sweet and sticky.  We took the cupcakes to childcare the next day.

Sylvia was very proud of the ones she had helped to make - the white ones - but she chose a pink one each for her and her best friend.  I had worried that they kids might argue over who got which cupcake.  I shouldn't have worried.  The kids loved discussing which animal they had chosen.

How to make animal cupcakes:

There isn't a recipe.  These are easy enough that we could make them by looking at the pictures.  So I will just share a few comments and advice.

Tips:
  • Use your favourite cupcake recipe for the cakes and make icing (frosting) using icing sugar (confectionary sugar) with a blob of butter and a dribble of water.  I didn't follow a recipe for the icing but used a bit of trial and error.
  • Have all your lollies ready before icing the cakes.
  • Make the icing quite stodgy - thick enough so it clings to the knife but smooth enough that you can spread it - you don't want the icing sliding off these cakes. 
  • Go easy on the pink food colouring for the pig.
  • To make the four types of cupcakes: start with a batch of white icing, then do two bowls of green and pink - mix cocoa powder into the green icing to make brown for the pig nostrils and the mouse whiskers; and make the pink into dark red (using more red and pink and a tiny bit of the brown icing) for the frog mouths.
  • Dust your scissors with icing sugar when cutting marshmallows, but when I did this for the piggy ears it left a bit of white icing sugar on the pink marshmallows.
  • I suspect these icing decorations could be adapted for round sugar cookies.  But I prefer cupcakes myself.
  • If you use cupcake papers then the icing and the papers will keep the cakes fresh.  I guess there are some good reasons to use icing!

The easiest one:
Decorations: red and orange jelly beans, brown mini m&ms, orange m&m (needs to be pushed in firmly to stand up as the beak)

The chick, the chicken, the chook or, as Sylvia called it, the chooken.  This was so easy that Sylvia could make them with very little guidance.  These are the only truly vegetarian cupcakes.  I think they would be good for Easter.  Maybe next time I would like to try some yellow icing for these ones. 

The one the little girls loved
Decorations: pink marshmallows, brown m&ms, icing nostrils.

The pig.  Goodness I wish it wasn't so stereotypical but this was the one Sylvia loved because it was pink.  Not that she necessarily associates pink with girls.  When my dad arrived, she insisted that he had a pig cupcake because she was sure that he loved pink too.  And the marshmallows were the first bit to be eaten.

The one that could be many animals:
Decorations: dessicated coconut, marshmallows, pink jelly bean, brown m&m, icing whiskers

We had quite some discussion about if these were cats or mice.  Finally we decided mice.  I am sure with a little changes to the ears they could be cats or dogs.  There are probably other options for the ears rather than marshmallows so that they would be vegetarian.  Orange cats with orange fruit leather?  Cutting out jubes?  Conor used chocolate sprinkles for the whiskers.  I think next time I might like to try some fine slivers of liquorice.

The one that I loved the most:
Decorations: marshmallows, brown mini m&ms, icing mouth

Sylvia asked for frogs and she got frogs.  I was quite pleased with my end result.  I had fun placing the eyes differently on each frog.  The cut marshmallows were sticky enough to have the m&ms stick without needing any icing to glue them on.  Yet again my piping was not great but it was close enough for jazz.  I did consider just making a mark of the mouth with a stick but I think the coloured mouth was better.

More on Sylvia's birthday soon.

16 comments:

  1. Happy birthday to Sylvia! And what cute cupcakes. Like you, decorating with lollies appeals much more than delicate piping and you pulled off some gorgeous little characters that way.

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    1. Thanks Cindy - the only problem with using lollies is having so many leftovers - sigh! the things we do :-)

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  2. They're all so adorable! And I would likely have done the same thing and let my child stay up to help with a project such as this. . . she must have loved every minute! SO cute!

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    1. thanks ricki - it was hard to resist Sylvia's excitment and birthdays are meant to be fun when you are a kid (or maybe it is just me thinks it is more fun to ice cupcakes than play pass the parcel!)

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  3. They look gorgeous! Love the frog ones, I made cupcakes like this a few months back. They all have their own characters. I bet everyone loved them

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    1. Thanks Katie - who can resist a cute cupcake! would have loved to have seen yours but I don't think they were on the blog or did I miss them

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  4. These are gorgeous Johanna! What a lovely birthday treat for any small child - and on that note, happy birthday to Sylvia! I share your love for the smiling frog but also like the look of the chicken (and I don't think it's only because it's the easiest ;) ).

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    1. Thanks Kari - the chicken was cute but I love colourful cupcakes so the frog won out in my affections

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  5. I must say that the little piggies caught my eye first! They all look so sweet and I remember seeing these on Conor's blog and thinking that they were gorgeous :D

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - I saw them on Conors blog ages and and have been meaning to make them ever since - even one of my sisters (susie) has made these cupcakes before me because I shared the link with her.

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  6. Oh my gosh!!! So much cuteness!! Definitely bookmarking these for when I have a kid!

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    1. Thanks Joanne but I must protest - don't wait til you have kids - you can make them before that - just gatecrash a kids party or make them for the little kid hiding in every grown up :-)

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  7. Oh my gosh, Johanna. These are the cutest cupcakes ever! I love how everyone talked about how they chose their favourite animal cupcake. :)

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    1. Thanks Janet - it is fun to see how kids react to food - I think there was a bit of crumbling going on but also lots of curiosity

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  8. the frogs and pigs are my birthday ones!!!!!!

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  9. Hi Johanna. I just happened upon this post and am so happy to see it! I absolutely love the frogs, such a great idea (from the mouths of babes, eh?) and am glad you also had the cat/mouse debate. I think I'm still undecided.

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