A Baking Adventure: Princess Cupcakes for Our Princess Niece

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Lylah, my 3-year-old niece, talked about her birthday party for 3 months. It started when her little sister, Lily, turned 1. “It’s my party? Those are my presents?” she would ask. Then when Leah turned a year old, we got the same questions, only to answer, “No Lylah, those are Leah’s. But your party is next!” As soon as items were purchased for her party, I was greeted with, “Auntie Jenny! Look at my princess party!” For the next few weeks, she talked about her princess party, which would have (of course) princess cupcakes.

We had all the fixings for a perfect 3-year-old princess party: My sister purchased a Wilton kit that had a Disney Princess cupcake stand, cupcake liners, and picks, and also bought the Disney princess frosting transfers. Crusader Stacy purchased purple metallic liners, which would be a complementing color, and I provided extra pink sugar crystals. Stacy came up with a plan of action for the frosting transfers, which included rolled fondant. After Leah’s party I’m now the fondant “expert” in the group, so I volunteered to help with the cupcakes.

I baked and frosted the funfetti and chocolate cupcakes the day before the party. We used Duncan Hines Strawberry Shortcake Flavor Creations for the pink frosting, which I had to add confectioner’s sugar to in order to pipe.

I did my best to pipe a flat swirl on the cupcakes that would be getting fondant circles placed on top.

I was really nervous about the transfers. I didn’t want to mess them up, because we didn’t have any extras, so I practiced with one a few days early and it worked great. The ink on the transfer didn’t get funky after a couple of days, so I was able to calm down a bit about preparing the cupcake decorations in advance.

The night before the party I prepped the fondant-transfer decorations, to place on the cupcakes the morning of the party. I rolled out the fondant, like I did for Leah’s birthday cupcakes, this time using the larger cutter to fit the whole top of the cupcakes. Then, following advice I found from Google searches, I used a damp cloth (AKA: a wet paper towel) to moisten the top of the fondant. The instructions for removing the transfer from the sheet worked perfectly and they peeled off easily.

I was really proud of trying something new again and it turning out well. The fondant with the transfers stayed perfect through the night (stored in an air-tight container), so the next morning I was able to finish up the decorating.

We rolled the edges of the frosting in sugar crystals, just to give it a finished look. Plus, a princess party needs a little extra bling!

I figured we would have enough time to sprinkle sugar on the pink frosted cupcakes when I got to the party location. Well, I’m glad I waited because as soon as I got in the car, on the way to the party, I noticed that the pink frosting had slide right off the tops of the cupcakes. It was a disaster. I’ve decided that moisture is a big issue with the Duncan Hines frosting and they are better off being left out to “set-up” (which is a problem when you want moist cake). Luckily I was going to be early anyway, so Stacy and I went into cupcake-rescue mode. We scrapped frosting and reapplied it to the cupcakes, sprinkled, and double-lined the wrappers, to hide some of the mess. The results? Not too bad.

Although it’s not exactly what I had envisioned, no one noticed. We did have a few pink survivors, which stayed at the forefront of the display.

The cupcakes with the fondant and transfers still stole the show and the birthday girl was giddy with delight over her princess cupcakes.

There was one casualty of this experience: my batter dispenser. A fallen hero, really. Cupcake baking hasn’t been the same without it, but it put up a good fight. So long, kitchen accessory. You shall be missed (until I’m able to get a new one)…

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

Leah’s 1st Birthday: A Garden Gnome Party with Cupcakes

Crusader Stacy and I began brainstorming ideas for my daughter’s first birthday, oh, about 9 months ago…when she was 3 months old. Seems extreme, I know. But, with no weddings, showers, or other birthdays on the horizon, our creative party juices needed to be released. I saw a gnome/forest friend theme on Design Dazzle and really liked the cute little mushroom top cupcakes and matching jumbo cupcake. I thought, “I can do that!” I also liked that it seemed to be an original idea, and I still kind of love gnomes going back to my “David the Gnome” days.

After casually researching here and there, it was June before I knew it! I solidified the “Garden Gnome” theme after finding some cute garden decorations that I wanted to tie in with the gnomes. I designed my own invitations to set the mood and décor for the party, scanning in felt flowers and scrap-booking paper to create texture and layers.

The Cupcakes: Chocolate Strawberry and Lemon

The cupcakes ended up being more of a challenge than I thought they would be. I started with box mixes for the cake because I wanted that to be as easy as possible since I’d be making my own frosting and decorating the cupcakes in a special way.

This was my first time working with fondant. I purchased Wilton’s ready to roll fondant and found it very easy to work with.

I also purchased Wilton fondant decoration-cutters (basically cookie cutters) in different size circles. The larger one was for the big cupcake cake and the smaller one was for the regular size cupcakes.

I researched working with fondant and found out how to store it so that decorations could be done a few days prior to using them. This was very helpful in managing my time for party preparations!

The polka dots were for the chocolate strawberry cupcakes and cake. A week before the party I decided that, since I prefer adding flavor to my homemade buttercream, the chocolate cupcakes would be topped with a strawberry buttercream. I found a recipe on Baking Bites that looked easy and tasty. The frosting ended up not being as easy as I thought though, particularly to work with. It was very runny (probably a combination of the house being warmer, all the red food coloring I added, and the amount of strawberry puree used in this recipe) so I added a lot of confectioner’s sugar, probably 3-4 times what the recipe calls for. Now I know why fresh fruit buttercreams can be so sweet! Despite some trial and error with working with the frosting, the flavor was still good!

The next hiccup I encountered was with the lemon frosting. I’ve made this frosting before, so everything was going well until it came to piping. I planned on using a grass tip, but moments before getting started thought to myself, “Hmmm…I bet the lemon zest isn’t going to fit through the piping holes.” Sure enough, it didn’t work. Since I was already working with a particular size, I was limited with my options, but chose another decorating tip and got wonky results.

My hope was that after adding the Wilton decorating daisies (thank goodness for another time-saving purchase!) the cupcakes would look okay, and I think they did!

I baked the night before the party and we added the final touches right before the party started, just to make sure the food dyes didn’t bleed and the decorations didn’t succumb to the moisture in the cake and frosting. In the end, I never needed to be so worried and the cupcakes came out great!

Even though I chose to do fun, summery flavors, there was still something for everyone and I got more compliments than ever before. I think the strawberry buttercream will make an appearance again in the future!

The Party

I was really pleased with how everything came together. Fun decorations including felt flower arrangements, hand crafted signs, polka-dot balloons, garden gnomes, fake moss rocks, garden decorations, and labeled goodie bags.

We had a sandwich buffet in the kitchen for lunch, and beverages for children and adults outside, but the real star was the dessert table. It was set to impress. Planters turned into cupcake displays, Rice Krispies balls (one shaped like a mushroom and decorated to match…thanks to Crusader Stacy!), candy flower arrangements, fruit dip, and cookie dough dip. We also set out a basket of bags and cups and encouraged our guests to take treats to-go.

The party was so much fun and, even though Leah won’t remember it, she had a great time in the moment and that’s all that matters. Crusader Stacy and I always had the best birthday parties growing up, so I hope to do the same for Leah. Now I just have to start planning next year’s!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)

Cupcake Inspiration for the Festival of Lights

With tonight being the first night of Hanukkah, the Cupcake Crusaders wanted to pull together some great ideas for how you can incorporate cupcakes into this 8 day festival. Below you will see easy ways to “jazz up” your cupcakes for this holiday, and even a link to some recipes for how to combine some of the traditional foods eaten during Hanukkah with cupcakes. We hope you enjoy this post!

Cupcake Wrappers
With these cupcake wrappers, you can bake your cupcakes in any basic cupcake liner, and then add an extra touch of festiveness.

1. Dress My Cupcake’s Star of David Hanukkah Cupcake Wrappers (Photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

2. Outisde the Box Dessert (Photo courtesy of Outisde the Box Dessert)

Cupcake Kit
Want cupcake liners and toppers that match? Check out this cupcake kit! It even comes with stencils to decorate your cupcakes:

Found on Amazon.com (Photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

Edible Cupcake Toppers
Want to impress your family? Add some of these edible cupcake toppers after frosting your cupcakes.

1. Clineff’s Confections Edible Cupcake Decorations (Photo courtesy of Clineff’s Confections)

2. Cakes and Kids (Photo courtesy of Cakes and Kids)

Make Your Own Cupcake Menorah

Follow these instructions on The Shiksa in the Kitchen’s blog to create your own cupcake menorah like the one above. The link includes free printable cupcake wrappers that you can download! (Photo courtesy of The Shiksa in the Kitchen)

Cupcakes for Hanukkah

I found a post from Kveller {A Jewish Twist on Parentings}‘s blog that contains several recipes that incorporate tradition foods eaten during Hanukkah. The recipes include Jelly-Filled “Sufganiyot” Cupcakes, Lemon Cupcakes with Olive Oil, Sage, and Sea Salt
and Deep-Fried Chocolate Cupcakes. They all look (and sound) delicious! (Photo courtesy of Kveller)

Not a baker? Why not order cupcakes?

Sur la Table is selling these adorable cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake on their website. So, if you aren’t that great in the kitchen (join the club), you can simply place an order and have them delivered right to you. Delivery takes about 3 to 5 business days, but that would get them to you in time for the last night of Hanukkah. Or, try calling your local bakeries and cupcakeries. There are several that I’ve seen offering Hanukkah specific cupcakes, so you may be able to pick some up. ((Photo courtesy of Georgetown Cupcake)

We hope you have a great Hanukkah filled with good times, family, and cupcakes!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Deck the… Cupcakes?

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope that your tree is up, your house is decorated and you have finished all your shopping. Well, maybe you haven’t finished ALL your shopping… but since Christmas is less than a week away, we wanted to share some of our favorite Christmas decorations for your cupcakes so that it’s not just your baking skills that impress your family and friends.

Cupcake Liners
A great place to start when “Christmafying” your cupcakes is with the liners. Here are two that we think would be a great addition to any dessert table:

1.Martha Stewart Crafts Holiday Cupcake Wrappers (Photo Courtesy of Scrapbook.com)
2. Meri Meri’s Christmas Cupcake Cases (Photo Courtesy of Meri Meri)

Cupcake Wrappers
If you want to take it just a step further, instead of just using liners, add these cupcake wrappers to any cupcakes for an instant “wow” effect.


1. Bella Cupcake Couture Cupcake Wrapper (Photo Courtesy of ChefTool.com)
2. Cakedoodle on Esty.com (Photo Courtesy of Cakeadoodle)

Free Printable Cupcake Toppers
Want to show your crafty side, but still want something professional looking? Try out these FREE cupcake toppers printables. All you have to do is print and construct at home yourself.

1. Cheery Cupcake Toppers from Bake It Pretty (Photo Courtesy of Pink Bake It Pretty)
2. Printable Christmas Cupcake Decorations from Craft Jr. (Photo Courtesy of Craft Jr.)

Decorative Cupcake Toppers
Would you rather purchase your cupcake toppers? No assembly required? How about these options?

1. Ho! Ho! Ho! Holiday Cupcake Topper from Stunique (Photo Courtesy of Stunique)
2. Christmas Character Cupcake Picks from Oriental Trading (Photo Courtesy of Oriental Trading)

Edible Cupcake Toppers
While paper cupcake toppers are great, what about a cupcake topper that you can eat? Here are a couple we love:

1. Santa Clause Fondant Cupcake Toppers Cake and Kids on Etsy.com (Photo Courtesy of Cakes and Kids)
2. Lucks Royal Icing Decorations (Photo Courtesy of ChefTools.com)

Cupcake Kits
Want to get the full package instead of “mixing and matching?” Look at these cupcake kits that include the liners AND the cupcake toppers.

1. Meri Meri’s ‘Tis the Season Cupcake Kit (Photo Courtesy of William-Sonoma)
2. Wilton’s Holiday Homemade Cupcake Combo Pack (Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com)

Cupcake Boxes
Giving the gift of cupcakes? Then you’ll probably need some packaging for them. Instead of trying to figure out how you are going to wrap a box of cupcakes, order these holiday cupcake boxes. All the hard work has been done for you!

1. Christmas Cupcake Boxes (Photo Courtesy of Oriental Trading)
2. Cookie and Cupcake Boxes (Photo Courtesy of Crate & Barrel)

This time of year can be stressful for some, but don’t let your holiday baking stress you out. Instead, have fun with it. We hope these cupcake decorating ideas have helped spark some ideas!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

Welcome Winter!

I know the first day of winter really isn’t until December 22nd, but since today is December 1st, and it’s finally cold after the warm streak we’ve had, I thought would be fun to share some creative ways to dress up your cupcakes for the season.

While the decorations in the photo above lean more towards the Christmas side of winter, below I’ve shared some that are strictly winter-themed so that anyone of any background or religion can enjoy. Even people living in warm weather can enjoy a snowflake or cute penguin, right? If you’ve come across winter-themed items you don’t see below, please share them in our comments section! We are always looking for fun decorations and know our readers will enjoy it as well.

Cupcake Wrappers
There are so many beautiful designer cupcake wrappers available, but here are two we thought were extra nice:


1. Dress My Cupcake (Photo Courtesy of Dress My Cupcakes)
2. PaperShops Home & Holiday Keepsakes on Esty.com (Photo Courtesy of PaperShops)

Cupcake Toppers
Are you like me and maybe not the best at decorative frosting techniques? Then cupcake toppers will be your best friend. Here are two that go from the ultra classy to the super cute:

1. Pink Cherry Momma on Esty.com (Photo Courtesy of Pink Cherry Momma)
2. Ciao Bambino on Esty.com (Photo Courtesy of Cia Bambino)

Edible Cupcake Toppers
While paper cupcake toppers are great, what about a cupcake topper that you can eat? Added bonus, your family and friends will think that you’ve mastered the art of fondant or gum paste. Here are a couple we love:

1. Two Sweet Cakes on Etsy.com (Photo Courtesy of Two Sweet Cakes)
2. Topperville on Etsy.com (Photo Courtesy of Topperville)

We hope these ideas have helped you spark new ideas or use these to jazz up your own cupcakes this winter. Cupcakes are fun, so have fun with them!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)