Tuesday, October 4, 2011

mini animal cupcakes

Many years ago, I used to babysit for a little girl named Jaime. Last week, my mom and her friends threw a baby shower to celebrate the mom-to-be. How did so much time pass so quickly?

Jaime's having a girl, and they are decorating the nursery with animals and bright, fun colors. We decided to coordinate the cupcakes to the animal theme by making tiny fondant animal toppers for mini cupcakes. Initially, we thought we'd need about 80 cupcakes, and I was going to make four different flavors, but it ended up being a smaller party, so we just went with simple favorites: chocolate/chocolate and vanilla/cream cheese. I picked a frog, tiger, pig, and chick because the colors were fun and bright together.

Here's a sampling of each:

And here's the whole gang together:

The mini cupcakes are so small that each of the toppers is only about an inch across, so I had to make them simple shapes and relatively simple detail or else it would be too tiny to work with! All of the black elements you see are drawn on with a food-safe marker. The frog's and pig's eyes are tiny circles of white fondant cut out with a large piping tip; the pig's nose is cut from my biggest piping tip. It was the easiest way to make them somewhat uniform in size.

In my original design, I made slightly larger white fondant disks to go under each animal. In that iteration, the chick had legs drawn on with edible marker, but he lost his legs when I decided to put the animals directly on the frosting rather than on the fondant circles. Poor, legless chickie.

To make the animals to pop, I added a few 3D elements like the frog's rolled up tongue and the pig's curled ears. The frog was actually the hardest shape to cut out. I did it freehand based on a drawing, and it was really hard to get the sides even! The top of his head was cut using the top half of a heart-shaped cookie cutter, but I had to be careful not to press too deeply.

I used my regular chocolate cake recipe and the new buttermilk chocolate frosting recipe (yum!). For the cupcakes, although I love the new vanilla cake I've been making, it does not work as well in cupcake form (some recipes just don't translate well!) so I stuck with a favorite. I used Pinky's cream cheese recipe which is extremely rich, but it tastes delicious and pipes well. 

I did see a picture from the shower, and Jaime is approximately the cutest pregnant woman ever. I wish the three of them much love and luck!

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