When I make cupcakes, I usually don’t get too creative with the decorating, even though I always admire the beautiful ones in cake shop windows and cookbooks. If we’re being honest, the piping bag rarely comes out when I’m icing cupcakes, and it’s usually a slap-dash spatula affair. But a little while ago, my sister and I were asked if we could make some cupcakes for my cousin Cooper’s 4th birthday party. And we all know how much Cooper likes cupcakes, and Elmo!
I considered making red velvet cupcakes at first, to keep with the theme of Elmo’s red fur but changed my mind because how much red food colouring was required, and the fact that we might have some hyperactive four-year-olds on our hands! I made a vanilla butter cake, always a good recipe to have in your repertoire, and this is just about the easiest in the world. The icing was a simple butter cream coloured red, and we used a star tip to pipe the “fur”.
To decorate Elmo, we used white marshmallows cut in half for his eyes, and then with a skewer and some melted dark chocolate, we created the pupil. His nose was an orange Mentos, and his mouth was made from a chocolate coated biscuit cut in half. We were pretty happy with the result! They were a big hit at the party with kids and adults alike, and again, I was reminded of the pulling-power of cupcakes, they never fail to garner a smile.
Vanilla Butter Cake
• 90g butter, softened
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ cup caster sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup self-raising flour
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 125g butter, softened
• 1 ½ cups icing sugar
• 2 tablespoons milk
• Red food colouring
• White marshmallows
• Melted Dark chocolate
• Orange Mentos
• Chocolate coated biscuits, cut in half
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
2. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, eggs and beat until combined. Add flour and milk and beat until mixture is pale in colour.
3. Divide mixture among cases and smooth surface. Baker for about 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
4. To make buttercream, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sifted icing sugar and milk in two batches, and then add red food colouring one tablespoon at a time until the colour is bright red.
5. Use a piping bag fitted with the star tip to make Elmo’s red ‘fur’. Slice marshmallows in half horizontally with a thin knife. Use a skewer dipped in melted dark chocolate to make the pupils and assemble the cupcake.