Sunday, February 26, 2012

North Pole Cupcakes

So I have some catching up to do and lots of posts coming here in the future. Thanks to the Apple vs. Adobe battle I can't update the blog from my iPad which is beyond inconvenient. Anyways, here are the cupcakes I made for Christmas.
 Super cute and super easy north pole cupcakes.

 I decided to do a nice chocolate cupcake for a change.
 For some crazy reason (mainly because Blogger tends to hate me) this picture won't flip and stays permanently upside down. But anyways, add water, oil and eggs. Pretty basic.
 I use a fork to whisk the batter together and make sure everything is well mixed. You don't want to get to the last few cupcakes and realize there's unmixed powder in the bottom of the bowl.
 Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake liners. I decided to really fill them so that I had nice full cupcakes. You'll see the difference it made in a bit.
 Bake at 350.
 In the meantime, lets work on the north pole sticks. They're pretty iconic and I always picture it with a red sign, but print out whatever follows the image in your head. I chose a random font and background that I thought looked right, and try to line them all up to make cutting them out much easier.
 You'll need candy canes, the printed (inedible!!) signs and red Skittles. I chose not to use fondant or edible paper because it was for third graders who don't care about that kind of thing and I think edible paper tastes awful. I used 6 candy canes for all 24 cupcakes but I had to use some slightly curved pieces so you might want to use 7 or 8 candy canes.
 At first I chose to cut off the straight part of the candy cane and was just going to use that section. I used a sharp serrated knife and sawed a notch into the candy cane.
 Turn the notch away from you and break into two pieces. Continue until you have the size that you want. 
 Later I decided to cut more into the rounded part, using everything except the small bended section. The curve you hide into the cupcake itself, however it makes it harder to stand perfectly upright and can be a bit short.
 I cut the candy cane into thirds, making slightly shorter pieces than I would have liked, but they worked out just fine. If you have the candy canes and the patience, I would use more and make bigger pieces, but its personal preference.
 See my vision?
 To attach the Skittles, I had this orange Halloween frosting that I decided to use.
 I decided to dye it red thinking it would blend in to the red Skittle better, but it was really an orangeish pink color.
 You can pipe frosting on the top of the candy cane or you can dip it into the bowl of frosting. Try not to use much at all and try not the get any on the sides of the candy cane. I would have used white frosting (thinking it would look like snow) but I didn't have any white butter cream and so I went with the red/pink.
 You just need a tiny bit.
 And then attach the red Skittle, laying it down on its side. See how if you use a bit too much you can really see it? I think the white would have made it look better because mistakes would be "snow" but use whatever you have on hand.
 I chose to freeze the candy canes with the Skittles so that they stayed a bit better. It can be a bit difficult to center them and make them stay, especially if you didn't cut the candy cane perfectly and the edge is jagged. Next take the north pole signs that you cut out. (HINT: do this step right before you're ready to make the cupcakes because the frosting can make the paper slightly wet and they might look strange if you left it on too long.)
 Using a toothpick I dabbed a tiny bit of frosting where I wanted the sign to go.
 And place the sign onto the candy cane. Be careful not to wrap it around the candy cane, you want it to look flat. Also try to place them as high up on the candy cane as you can because you'll be inserting the end into the cupcake. I didn't leave enough room on the smaller ones.
 Some of the tops don't look that great up close but once on the cupcake you really don't notice.
 And I made these the night before and covered them with Saran wrap.
And this is from the next morning and I thought they looked fine. The only problem I ran into is that the candy canes would get a bit sticky the second day if you handled them too much.
So here's the difference with the fuller cupcakes and the normal cupcakes that I made as I was running low on batter. See how much fuller (and nicer) they look? They can be slightly difficult to frost though, so do whatever works best for you.
I think one of the worst feelings is when you realize you have almost NO powdered sugar. It seems to always happen to me right as I'm running out of time to be somewhere with the cupcakes and I don't have time to run to the store for more. ARG!
 BUT, then I found this crazy recipe from Hello, Cupcake where you use marshmallow cream and TONS of butter. TONS. Three whole sticks. Crazy, I know. And you only use a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. (By the way, the marshmallow cream I used were half jars, that's why there's two. You would only need one normal sized jar).
 You start with just the marshmallow cream, and feel free to scrape the jar with a spoon and eat some of it. I love marshmallows and marshmallow cream is a weakness of mine. Yum!
 Beat just the marshmallow cream until it changes texture and becomes shiny and a bit runny. Then begin adding in chunks of butter.
 And it'll start to thicken.
 Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and you get this nice fluffy frosting.
 It was a great frosting for a "snow" effect but would have been the wrong consistency for piping. I still am on the lookout for the perfect cupcake piping frosting. Maybe one day I'll experiment and create my own.
 So frost the cupcakes, making cute little swirls to look like snow. It doesn't have to be special or perfect in any way. I went around the edges to try to keep them straight and looking a bit better but you can't really tell.
 So then take your north pole signs. (See how some are curved? Those ends you stick into the cupcake so no one will notice, just be careful that you don't stick them in at a weird angle.
 Just stick the sign into the cupcake. NOTE: Be careful that you do NOT push the candy cane into the cupcake using the top. The Skittle WILL pop off. Hold it by the candy cane and gently push it into the frosting and through to the cupcake so that they stay. Don't just use one finger and poke it in or it'll go in crooked and the top will fall off. I used a nice crystal sanding sugar (clear/white) for more "snow."
 And there you have it! Pretty easy right?
 See how the curved ones you have to push in farther to make them straight? I liked the bigger ones better but they are definitely more of a pain to make.
 Aren't they cute?
I also had these nice trays from the super market that used to have store-bought cupcakes that I put them in for transport. I'll buy a cupcake carrier at some point...hopefully.
 It really made it so much easier to bring them in!
And you're done! See, aren't they easy? :)

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