I have been sick for the past few days and cold medicine does funny things to my head, this cupcake is proof!
Sam had a birthday party to attend this weekend and the birthday boy was celebrating with an Army themed party. Prior to the dye-free challenge we decided to take, I probably would have done a camo color scheme with the frosting and stuck an army toy on top. Well, when one does not have that as an option (the pastel colors from the natural food dyes weren’t going to help me accomplish this mission!), and since chocolate and white icing can get kind of boring after a while when you are 6, what else can we do? How about “Cupcakes with Flair!”
Before I took the “Cupcakes with Flair” class, I had no idea of all the potential in cupcakes. The best thing? They are easy!
My boys have amassed themselves quite the toy military over the years, so I set my sights on a making a tank cupcake.
- Wilton Egg Pan (the pan I have has been discontinued. You might still be able to find it on Amazon or Ebay, just be sure to look for a new pan so you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination). If not, Wilton does make a Mini Easter Egg Pan that you can use too. Don’t worry about the design impressions in the pan, because you will cover them with frosting anyway).
- Mini Loaf Pan (the pan I have is by Baker’s Secret because it was the best price I could find. Another tip, use one of the Michael’s 40% off coupons and buy one at the store).
- Cake Batter (Follow the baking directions for the specific pan you use).
**For Each Tank Cupcake, you will need (1) mini egg-shaped cupcake and (1) mini loaf-shaped cupcake. I like to bake up a batch of each shape and keep them in my deep freezer to use as needed, it saves a lot of time!
- Celebration Lights (I found these at Michael’s Craft Store in the wedding section, see photo below).
- Pretzel Stick (I used Snyder’s Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks, but Glutino Pretzel Sticks are great too).
- Chocolate Circles for the tank’s tires (I used Chocoley Chocolate Candy Melts; just be sure to read Chocoley’s Allergen Statement before buying. The Make’n Mold Candy Wafers sold at many craft stores are also gluten-free. Another idea would be to use Pamela’s Simplebites Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies).
- Chocolate Frosting (I made a dairy-free version of the recipe found on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder package, see below for my tweaks. Betty Crocker also has ready-made frostings that are gluten-free, check out liveglutenfreely.com for the complete list).
- 6-inch Cake Board (Optional, but they are great for shaped cupcakes and they’re reusable if you cover them! You should be able to find these at your local craft store as well).
- Pastry Bag or a Ziploc bag will work too (couplers are also nice but optional).
- Star Tip (the link will take you to an Amazon page so you can see what these look like, see my notes on tips at the end of this post).
- Army Man (The one I used is from the Toy Story “Bucket of Soldiers”)
Dairy-Free Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, melted
2/3 cup Cocoa Powder (I use Dutch-processed cocoa powder to make dark chocolate icing)
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 cup Water
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
- Melt butter, stir in cocoa.
- Alternately add powdered sugar and water, beating to spreading consistency.
- Add small amount additional water, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
About 2 cups frosting.
Pastry Tip Notes:
I use #16, 18, 21, 22 and #1M Star tips regularly. The number corresponds with the size of the opening. For example, a #16 Star tip will give you a smaller star than a #22 Star tip. Keep in mind though, the smaller the star, the longer it will take to decorate (and your hand will go numb in the process). You want the star to be proportional to the size of the cake/cupcake that you are decorating though. For this cupcake, I mainly used a #21 Star tip and I filled in some of the holes using a #18.
I buy my tips at my local cake decorating store or at a craft store. They are really inexpensive, and they can do so many things with them besides pipe frosting! I also use mine to fill deviled eggs, twice baked potatoes and pipe peanut butter into celery for “Ants on a Log.” I also used my wide star tip, the #1M to pipe out the GF Churros I made recently.
Check out this link to a video on YouTube for decorating with a Star Tip. There are a TON of cake decorating tutorial videos on YouTube that are very helpful for someone who is not a professional, like me!
The Celebration Lights come in Non-Blinking and Blinking (above). Check the package to make sure you have the correct style for your creation, before you buy them.
For more fun cake decorating ideas, check out the Celiac Family blog, Heather has a really cute Princess and the Frog cake!
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