Every time I've written a post this year (all 4 of them), I take a long hiatus in between each one, and then come back offering up excuses for my negligence. Well, I'm not going to do that this time. I could have found the time to quickly post a recipe or two. But sometimes in life, it's necessary to prioritize and focus your energy on the more important aspects. And for me, that has been trying to find another form of income (besides my small, but steady catering venture) so that I may ultimately move out of my parents house. Not that living at home is terrible by any means- my parents are very cool- but let's face it, when I was 18 and planning out my grand future, living with my parents in my mid twenties definitely wasn't on the list. And so I'm happy to report that I have indeed found a job. One that allows me the freedom to continue with my catering, which makes me very happy. This project that I have recently become involved with is an online magazine called shuzsociety. An online destination all about shoes. I feel really lucky right now to be able to work with my two passions- food and fashion.
So now that I've updated you on where I've been the last two months, I guess I should begin to mention something food related, since that is the whole reason you're here. These lovely cupcakes were my donation to a local elementary school's auction. Well, it was part of the donation. Along with these painstakingly detailed cupcakes, I offered up a dozen cupcakes, every month, for a whole year to the highest bidder. So 2010 will be filled with many cupcake related posts. (Next up is a ballerina theme- by special request).
These butterflies are made out of colored confectionary coating wafers- the same kind I use to dip my cake balls in. I got the recipe from Hello, Cupcake! and changed up the colors to make them a little more appealing to kids. The book provided a butterfly wing template which made the process much, much easier. The book suggests using a plastic baggie to pipe the melted wafers, however, I found it much easier to use a plastic squeeze bottle. I melted each confectionary color and poured them into individual plastic bottles. I felt I had more control this way, and also it allows me to save the unused candy coating for a later use. (Just place the plastic bottle in a tall mug of hot water for several minutes. Once it is slightly softened, microwave in 15 second intervals until thoroughly melted). The technique of piping the butterfly wings isn't difficult- it looks harder than it is, trust me- but it definitely was time consuming. So don't judge me for the fact that I cheated by using a boxed cake mix. At least I made homemade icing.
Adapted from Hello, Cupcake!
24 vanilla cupcakes baked in liner color of choice
2 cups dark chocolate melting wafers (I used Wilton)
2 cups of candy melting wafers in color of choice (or you can use several colors like I did!)
3 tablespoons white nonpareils
3/4 cup dark chocolate frosting (from a can is fine, it's for the body of the butterfly only)
50-60 brown M&M's or chocolate chips
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (see recipe below)
food coloring in color of choice (be sure to only use paste dyes or gel based dyes- nothing water based!)
1. Trace the wing (there are two sizes) and antennae templates (see below) onto a sheet of paper with thick, black ink. Cut out 24 small squares of wax paper (large enough to fit a pair of wings) and 24 really-small squares (to fit one antennae).
2. Place 1 cup each of the dark chocolate and colored candy melting wafers in two ceramic mugs (or if you wish to pipe using a plastic bag, place wafers in a ziplock bag and do not seal). Microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between each, until the candy is melted and smooth.
3. Using a small funnel, spoon the melted candy into individual plastic squeeze bottles (or seal the ziplock bags and snip a 1/6" corner from each bag). Using a cookie sheet as a work surface, place the template under a square of wax paper. Working on one wing at a time, use the melted dark chocolate to outline the wing template. You might have to go over the outline several times in order to thicken. Fill in the wing with the melted colored candy. Tap the cookie sheet lightly against the counter to flatten. Using a round toothpick, pull the dark chocolate into the colored candy to create the wing design. While the candy is still soft, sprinkle the outer edges of the wing with the white nonpareils. Repeat with the remaining melted candy, melting additional wafers as needed, to make 24 pairs of wings. Reheat the candy (in the plastic bottle or ziplock bag) in the microwave for 10-15 seconds if it become to thick to work with, but be careful not to over heat. Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator until set, about 5 minutes. Follow the same procedure to make the antennae, using the melted dark chocolate.
(The wings and antennae can be made 1-2 days in advance; keep in a cool, dry location)
4. Tint the vanilla buttercream to your color of choice, then spread the frosting on top of each cupcake. Spoon the chocolate frosting into a ziplock bag or a disposable pastry bag and set aside.
5. Carefully peel the chilled wings and antennae from the wax paper. Place two brown M&M's or chocolate chips, about 1/2-inch apart, on the center of each cupcake (this provides support for the wings). Press the inside edge of a pair of wings into the frosting about 1/4-inch apart, allowing the wings to lean on the M&M's or chocolate chips. Snip a 1/8-inch corner from the bag with the chocolate frosting. Starting at the head of the butterfly, pipe 4 or 5 "beads" of frosting down the length of the body, drawing the frosting into a small point on the last bead. Gently press an antennae into the cupcake, just ahead of the beginning of the butterfly body. Repeat with all the remaining cupcakes, and arrange on a platter. (Tip: by placing the wings in different positions on the cupcakes, you can create the illusion of movement and fluttering.
Makes 24 cupcakes
Courtesy of The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 1/2-7 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add 4 cups of powdered sugar, then the milk, vanilla, and salt. On medium speed, and with the paddle attachment, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days at room temperature. Do not chill or the icing will set and harden.
Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes or one 2-layer 9-inch cake