Friday, March 18, 2011

Here comes the sun

My last baking project was something of a flop. I made some Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day and it turned out incredibly dry and bland. I mean, I think it's more because Irish Soda Bread is by nature dry and bland than that I messed up, but either way I was ultimately left disappointed. Nevertheless, last night I began a more ambitious project. I again opened the cupcake book from which these cartilaginous bad boys arose. Today is the birthday of the girl who gave that book to me a couple of years ago as a secret santa gift in our office gift exchange, so I wanted to make something special. Interestingly, my secret santa this year gave me a cupcake caddy to better transport my creations to the office. I'm beginning to sense a subtext to their generosity.

After the shark incident took so many hours and caused my kitchen to be shellacked in sugar, I thought I'd try something a little simpler. Something with the same level of cuteness, but that wouldn't require trying to balance Twinkies upright on round surfaces using only frosting as adhesive. Owing to that and to the lovely weather we've been having here that makes it feel like spring, I decided on the sunflower cupcakes. I think they came out rather well, so I'm including a few pictures below:

I guess this really screams summer more than spring. I'm just happy I don't need a coat to walk in the park anymore!

A field of sunflowers! As you can see some of my creations are more exact and some have a more Van Gogh impressionist quality. Those are the ones I did when my arm started to get tired, but frankly, I like them better.

My little sunflowers nestled in their greenhouse. I really just wanted to show off the cupcake caddy. It certainly made subway travel easier than the bootleg aluminum tray I used to use.

For those of you interested in making these yourself (they really are pretty easy--only they have the advantage of looking super hard), I'm including the recipe:

Yield: 24 flowered cupcakes

24 vanilla cupcakes baked in green paper liners
2 (16-ounce) cans vanilla frosting, divided
Green, yellow, and black food coloring
14-16 regular chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies (Oreos)
Sugar green leaves (optional--I just happened to find them at the cake decorating store)
2 tablespoons dark-chocolate frosting
6-10 red candy-coated chocolates (M&M's)

1. Tint 1 1/2 cups of the vanilla frosting green with the food coloring. Spread an even layer of the green frosting on top of the cupcakes and smooth. Arrange the chocolate sandwich cookies randomly over the cupcakes, pressing them into the frosting to secure.

2. Tint the remaining vanilla frosting bright yellow with the food coloring. Press out the excess air and seal the bag.

3. Reinforce the corner of each bag with 6 overlapping layers of transparent tape. Pinch the taped corners flat and cut a small V-shape in the corner to make a leaf tip. Pipe yellow-orange frosting around the edge of each cookie to make petals. Pipe another circle of petals just inside the first, slightly overlapping.

4. Tint the chocolate frosting black with the food coloring and spoon it into a sandwich-size zippered bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Snip a 1/16-inch corner from the bag.

For each cupcake, pipe a dot of black frosting on one of the cookies and attach the red chocolate candy to make a ladybug. Pipe a line of black frosting down the center of each ladybug and add a dot for the head and a few dots on the back.

See? What could be easier? Happy nearly spring to all my readers! I hope the weather is as lovely where you are it is here this week.


  1. Sure doesn't look easy. Your office is lucky to have such a cupcake diva. I never happen to stroll through the cake decorating store...

  2. So cute!! And I agree--they don't look easy. I want to eat the lady bugs up.

  3. Those are fabulous! Forget vegetables, you have found your niche.

  4. a fine job indeed, sunflower 9441910.