Quick and Easy Cupcake Decorations

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Have you ever seen that episode of How I Met Your Mother about making yourself indispensable in the workplace by becoming “Food Guy” or “Sports Guy”? Well, I’m probably known as “Dessert Girl”. There are certain days when it’s pretty much expected that I will walk through the door carrying brownies, cookies or cupcakes.

This time I decided to step it up a little and decorate the cupcakes as well. This sounds like an ambitious project, but I found a super easy, super fast way to make adorable cupcake toppers that fit right in with the day’s theme. All you need is a craft punch, cardstock, some medium Glue Dots, and as many toothpicks as you have cupcakes. I used my Fiskars XL cloud punch and silver paper, but I know most of the punches in my stash would make fantastic toppers for any theme: seashells and crabs in the summer, multicolored flowers in the spring? Yes, please!

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I’m all about efficiency when I have to make large quantities of anything, so I did some “craft math” to figure out that I could get 6 clouds out of a strip of 1.5″x12″ paper, and 8 strips out of one sheet of 12″x12″ paper. Since my clouds are double-sided, I needed two full sheets of 12″x12″ to make enough toppers for my 48 cupcakes. Armed with a pile of silver paper strips and my cloud punch, I churned out all the necessary clouds while watching House Hunters: International on my iPad, and my cat helped dispose of the scraps by shredding them into tiny pieces that disappeared into the carpet. Tedious projects are much more enjoyable when they allow you to multitask, and having help just makes it more fun. When preparing these decorations for big parties, I recommend a movie and friendly help of the not-so-furry kind. One thing to keep in mind, because the cupcake toppers are double-sided and not all punches are symmetrical: be sure to flip the paper over for half the punches, in order to get shapes that match on both sides.

Assembly was much more fun. Making sure to have a pair of opposite shapes (like my clouds in the first picture), put a medium glue dot right in the center of the back of one shape. This will hold the toothpick down. On the back of the other shape, put a medium glue dot on either edge, to help hold the shape together around the toothpick. Once the toothpick is stuck to the first glue dot, carefully line up the opposite shape and press the two sides together. Voilá! A perfect cupcake topper!

iCloud cupcake topper

My fully decorated cupcakes were a huge success; they had all been eaten by noon, and I know a few people even kept their cloud decorations. I’ve agreed to double my recipe and bring them again at Thanksgiving… now I’ll just have to figure out how to decorate those! For those looking for a delicious moist chocolate cupcake recipe, here’s mine:

Launch Day Cupcakes

Makes 57 Cupcakes

1/2 cup chopped chocolate chips (Ghirardelli 60% cocoa)

1 ½ cups 1% milk + 1 tbsp dark Dutched dark cocoa (Hershey’s Special Dark)

3 cups sugar

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process; I use Ghirardelli)

2 tsp baking soda

¾ tsp baking powder

1 ¼ tsp salt

3 large eggs + 1 yolk

¾ cup canola oil

1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. If you’re making cupcakes, line the wells of your pans with fluted paper liners, or grease and dust them with flour or cocoa. If you’re making larger cakes, grease pans and line bottoms with rounds of wax paper. Grease paper.

Prepare dry ingredients. Into a LARGE bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Make “hot chocolate”. Mix milk and cocoa powder, microwave for a 1 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally, to make hot. Put finely chopped chocolate chips in a bowl, pour in hot milk. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Prepare wet ingredients. Mix oil, buttermilk, and vanilla in a bowl or large measuring cup. In another (very) large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly and lemon-colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer).

Mix all ingredients in electric mixer. Slowly add oil mixture and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on low or medium speed, bracing yourself against puffs of cocoa-and-flour dust, until just combined well.

Bake. Divide batter between pans. For cupcakes, fill each cup just over halfway full. Make sure there is only one paper liner, otherwise cupcake will fall in the center. Bake in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes, or 50 to 70 minutes for larger cakes, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool cakes completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and remove cupcakes, or invert larger cakes onto racks. If making larger cakes, carefully remove wax paper. Cakes may be made one day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

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