I made these cute cupcakes earlier this week, and I've been so excited to share them with you!
These were so much fun to make and the result was so worth all the time that goes into them. I actually split the process into two days, just because that I personally know that I get pretty overwhelmed and stressed easily with baking projects.
If you have some kids, this would be a great project to do with them, they would probably love to help with making the decorations and putting them on the cupcakes. I don't have kids, so I asked my brother to help instead. We had a lot of fun! :)
So first off, you need a cake mix. I just used a box recipe and followed their directions on the back. If you prefer homemade cake, just make sure that you use white cake. We will be dyeing the batter a little bit later.
The recipe on the back of my box didn't call for this, but I added just a splash of vanilla to the cake batter for a bit more flavor. If you want it to taste more "beachy", you can add a bit of coconut oil instead. This will give the batter just a hint of a coconut taste that most people enjoy. (I am not one of those people.) I would add about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of it.
After you mix up your batter, start adding the dye! You will need blue food coloring and make sure that you add it in small portions at a time. I did two to four dots at a time, mixed it, then added more until I got the right color of blue that I wanted.
You want to do it like this rather than adding it all at once to avoid streaking. Plus, this way you don't accidentally add too much dye at once and end up with a color that you didn't want.
The reason that we are dyeing the cake blue is because we want this to represent water. We will be building a sandy beach on top of it for the decorations.
Now fill a cupcake tray with liners and spray them well. You don't want your cupcakes to stick to the paper (there is nothing worse than that!). If you don't want to use liners, you can also just spray the tray and cook them like that, it's really just a choice of personal preference.
You don't have to worry just yet if these liners look "beachy", because I ended up taking them off after I baked them. It does look quite a bit better to switch to fresh liners after the cupcakes are decorated, but again, this is personal preference.
Fill your liners as much as your mix recommends, mine was half full. Then, just bake in the oven for as long as your recipe recommends. I knew that mine were done when I stuck a toothpick in the middle of them and it came out clean.
I baked my cupcakes the night before I decorated them. You don't have to wait that long if you are just dying to finish them, just make sure that your cupcakes are completely cooled before you put the frosting on.
Now it is time to make the umbrellas!
For this, you have two options. You know those really cute paper umbrellas you can buy in the store for party decorations? The really little ones? Yes, those. If you can find them, you can totally use them on your cupcakes and save a lot of time. I looked for them but couldn't find them when I bought my baking supplies, so I made my own umbrellas instead. If you can't find the pre-made umbrellas either, I'm going to share with you how I made the umbrellas so you can make your own too!
First, you need whatever colors of construction or colored paper that you want. You will also need a ruler, a pencil, scissors, toothpicks, a hot glue gun, a foam block, and some little fingers to fold all that paper!
After I chose my colors, I measured and cut out a one-inch equilateral triangle.
I then traced this triangle five times to make an incomplete hexagon, an un-closed pentagon. It should look like a little packman. I cut out the shape, and now this is the pattern we will be tracing to make all of the other umbrella tops.
Trace this pattern on your papers until you have made as many shapes as there are cupcakes. To make the folding a little prettier, I also quickly sketched on a little tab on one open side of the pacman shapes.
Cut out the little pacmans with the tabs on them and fold them. Make sure your folds are from each corner to the middle point, as you can see on the picture below. Fold the tab in as well. You want any pencil marks to end up on the bottom of the umbrella, so fold that side of the paper inwards.
Put a little strip of hot glue on the tab on the good side of the paper (without the pencil marks). Then fold the tab up under the other open side of the pacman shape and press until it is dry. This should take only a few seconds.
Now you will want to take a toothpick and poke it through the center of your pentagon. Let a little bit of the toothpick peek through the top, it will add to the look. Secure it in place with a dot of hot glue on the underside of the paper.
Now, you want these to dry upright instead of having them dry at an angle. The paper slides around a little bit, so you really want them to stay put until they are fully dry. So stick them upside down on your foam block so that they can dry straight while not having the paper slide down the toothpick.
As you can see, I didn't have a foam block. I used bagels instead and it work just as well! :)
Now you could be done with them here, because they definitely look like umbrellas already, or you could go the extra mile and make them look even more fun!
Cut several toothpicks in half. We will be gluing them to the underside of the umbrellas.
Simply put a strip of hot glue down each edge of the paper and put the toothpick halves in place. If they hang over a bit too far, just trim them down with your scissors.
Done! Now we can start decorating the tops of the cupcakes!
For the icing, I used a butter cream recipe that I found in a cookbook. You don't need very much of this if you only have about 24 cupcakes like I did, so don't bother doubling the recipe until you are sure that you need it.
For this icing, I needed 1 cup of powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons of butter, and 1 egg yolk. Again, the recipe didn't call for it, but I added a splash of vanilla for extra flavor.
First I softened my butter a bit, then I mixed it with my egg yolk until it looked smooth and creamy.
Then I began to add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. This took a little while, but soon the mixture was smooth and all the sugar was added. This is when I tasted it and decided that it needed a bit of vanilla, so I added it here.
The icing should have a nice beachy color on its own, so you don't even need to dye it. But I wanted mine to have a bit of a sandy texture, so I picked out some yellow and white sprinkles and crushed them to get a gritty mixture. Then I just added it to my icing and stirred it in. Instant sand!
If you like coconut, you can add some shredded coconut rather than sprinkles to not only get a gritty sandy texture, but get that summer-y and beachy coconut flavor!
Now all that is left is decorating! Just smooth a bit of the icing onto the top of the cupcakes to make a little "island". I found it worked best to but about a tablespoon's worth of icing in the middle, then smooth it out from the middle to the bottom rather than smoothing in a circular motion around the top of the cupcake. For some reason the cake was a little sticky, so it wanted to come off with the icing.
After you smooth it on the top, decorate with the umbrellas and your candy of choice. I chose to use gummy life savors, because they looked like inner tubes. They were really cute and just the perfect size!
Transfer the cupcake into a fresh liner and enjoy!