Ahh Fall! Can you hear it knocking on your door? It's coming and I'm so excited, as I am each year to welcome my favorite season. Wearing jackets, boots, and scarves to stay warm with the refreshing, clean and crisp nip in the air... The excitement of the kids starting school again - new teachers, new notepads and backpacks, wondering what lies ahead for them, a year older and wiser..
The familiar smells of fall always do me in - pumpkin, apple and tons of warm spices warm my heart as well. Soups and casseroles and piping-hot straight-from-the-oven meals prepare us for cooler weather and shorter days. Chrysanthemums line the front yards of the houses - such colorful little packages of the season.
Speaking of chrysanthemums...
If you have been devoting a little bit of your time regularly to my blog over the past year, you may remember that last summer, my daughter took home first place for a cake decorating contest held at our local fair. She was the youngest competitor by far at only 7 years old and her creativity and poise under pressure brought her the winning big blue ribbon!
At this year's fair, the contest was a bit different. In fact there were two - one for the younger kids and one for the older. My daughter (though aging seemingly at the speed of light!) qualified for the younger children's contest. These contestants had to decorate at least 6 cupcakes rather than a cake, which was left for the older children's decorating contest.
After doing her research and deciding upon flower cupcakes, namely chrysanthemums, I baked up some cupcakes for her to practice on. The decorating technique we chose was inspired by the book What's Up Cupcake. This technique, however simple, exhibited such a wow factor at the fair that we'll be showing you how it's done with a few modifications in this, the first tutorial post of my blog.
These cupcakes are a wonderful rainy-day project to do with your children or would even be beautiful on display at your next party. Decorated over a pumpkin cupcake using cream cheese icing would be the perfect autumnal dessert idea!
Incidentally, my own sweet chrysanthemum received 2nd place at the fair this year for these cupcakes! Congrats, to my budding baker! :-) I can't wait to see what you do next year.
Tutorial: Chrysanthemum Cupcakes
What You Will Need:
cupcakes, unfrosted, any flavor
white or off-white frosting
about 25 mini marshmallows
colored sugar crystals (choose colors you would like your petals to be)
mini chocolate chips or chocolate-covered sunflower seeds or other larger sprinkles
a pair of food-safe scissors
a small spatula or knife
a small bowl
Before You Start: Mise en Place
Clear a decent sized workspace on a table or counter and put out all of the items you need for this project. This is a great habit to get into. It seems like an extra step, but actually will subtract tons of time from your preparation. Place about 1/4 cup of the sugar crystals in a ziploc bag. Do this for each color you have. *Tip - you can combine colors for a neat effect.
Step 1: Prep Your Marshmallows
Using the food-safe scissors, cut each mini marshmallow along the diagonal as pictured below. Resulting will be two halfs that are triangular in shape with a large oval area (the inside of the marshmallow) that is now exposed and sticky (this is the part that the sugar adheres to).
Step 2: Color the Petals
Drop all the cut marshmallows into the bag of colored sugar, zip the top closed, and gently shake around, making sure all the sticky parts of the marshmallows are all covered in sugar. Alternately you may hand dip the marshmallows into sugar which has been placed in a shallow bowl.
Step 3: Prep Your Cupcakes
Using a small spatula, spread about a 1/4" layer of frosting on the tops of the cupcakes. Make sure there are no lumps or bumps and that it is as smooth as you can make it. You want the petals to sit evenly atop the cupcakes.
Step 4: Start to Apply the Petals
Starting at the outer edge of the cupcakes, take a sugar-colored marshmallow half from the bag of sugar crystals and press it gently, sugar side up with about 2/3 f the marshmallow protruding over the edge. Continue with another marshmallow, adjacent to the first one, making sure the marshmallows touch, in the same fashion. Keep going until you have placed a ring of petals all around the outer rim of your cupcake without any spaces.
Step 5: Complete the Petals
Start the next row of petals slightly inward, overlapping the petals by just under 1/2 of the marshmallow. Complete this row as you did the first row, make sure to overlap each row of marshmallows equally. Continue this process until you have nearly reached the center. There should be a dime-sized circle (or slightly smaller) of frosting remaining.
Step 6: Complete the Center of the Flower
Take a few of your large sprinkles (mini chocolate chips, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, etc) and drop them in the dime-sized center of the cupcakes where the frosting is still peeking through. Make sure to cover all the white frosting. In the Step 6 picture above, I've shown how much space is left after filling in all the petals. The picture below shows the completed cupcakes.
Voila! You have completed your chrysanthemum cupcakes! Aren't they just gorgeous? As you can see, you are only limited by your creativity. Try alternating petal colors or mixing any variety of colors of sugars for a look that is customized to your liking. These are perfect for a party, a fun kids' craft, or anytime of year you want to do something fun and creative that looks amazing with little effort.
Note: To recreate the sunflower look, line the outer ring of the cupcake with only one round of marshmallows. Then fill in the entire rest of the top of the cupcake with black or dark brown large sprinkles or chips.