Easter Cupcakes (Or Brush Embroidery Part 2: No Really, Try It!)

Last week I tried the technique known as brush embroidery for the first time and told you all how easy it is. For Easter weekend, my seven-year-old daughter and I made some cupcakes using the same technique and she’d like you all to know that “brush embroidery is super-easy and fun!”

I started with a Betty Crocker French Vanilla box mix (my usual go-to for fast, easy cakes) with, as usual, an extra blort of artificial vanilla added (and by “blort” I mean I pour some in, probably about 2 tablespoons). I also threw in a couple of handfuls of mini chocolate chips for obvious reasons of comfort and joy. I then split some of the batter into separate bowls and added some Easter-ish colours. I do this with orange and black for Halloween too; it’s always a hit.

various colours of batter

A few drops of Americolor Electric Pink, Electric Blue, and Electric Green added to vanilla box cake mix batter with mini chocolate chips thrown in for happy-making.

Next I spooned the various colours into paper cups randomly. These happen to be particularly pretty cups. I’m usually frugal about bulk ordering 1000 packs of plain white cups, or using my silicone washable ones at home, but Peo and I each got a pack of designer cups in our goodie bags from the Austin cake show (yes, that’s right, when you compete you get a goodie bag so be sure to enter next year!) and she decided she wanted to use some of hers.

coloured batter in a cupcake tray

I no longer bother pre-swirling the colours in the cups, because the baking action moves the batter around plenty, and if you swirl too much it just all turns to mud anyway.

Baked at 350 for 20 minutes, and voila!

baked cupcakes

Same tray as above, turned around. Be aware that blue and green can look like mold when they come through in dots on the top, so be sure your eaters know it’s coloured if you think it’ll be seen or that it will concern them.

We decided we wanted to play with a cool brush embroidery effect I’d seen in various places online, especially here, where different colours of royal icing are used against a chocolate background. Plus, I happened to have some leftover Satin Ice Dark Chocolate fondant from volunteering at the kids’ table at the cake show, and it’s insanely delicious. I’m no fan of fondant in general for eating, but this dark chocolate stuff is heavenly. Full disclosure: although I did get it as a free leftover from the show and Satin Ice donated it to the show, Satin Ice hasn’t directly given me anything to say that. I genuinely adore this stuff and highly recommend it.

I helped Peo put down some powdered sugar on a board:

working on cupcakes

A rare shot of me on this blog since my husband was around to take photos.

Then I had her knead a small ball of the chocolate fondant to warm it up:

Peo kneading chocolate fondant

“What? You want me to play with chocolate? OKAY MOM!”

After we rolled it out, we cut circles and painted water on the undersides so they’d stick to the cupcakes.

Peo putting water on fondant

You could also use corn syrup, jelly/preserves, or buttercream, but water works just fine and doesn’t add any extra sugar to what’s already a lovely sweet treat.

Then I showed Peo how to hold the wet circle carefully in one and and sort of roll the cupcake top against it to mount it on smoothly:

Putting the chocolate rounds on the cupcakes.

Since someone will inevitably ask: that’s a tryptophan molecule on my shirt. It was a ThinkGeek promotion for Thanksgiving a few years ago. Peo is wearing the shirt from the 2010 Austin cake show.

Whenever Peo had too much powdered sugar on the tops of her cupcakes, I had her use a damp pastry brush to wash it away. This was less about aesthetics than concern that the royal icing wouldn’t stick well to the powdered sugar.

Peo brushes off her cupcake.

If you do this, make sure the brush is damp, not dripping. It will dry eventually, but will look shiny and wet for awhile.

Then we began with the actual brush embroidery! Here Peo applies some pink royal icing with a #2 tip to her cupcake in a wiggly line:

Applying royal icing

The extra lump of chocolate was the remnant after we finished cutting. I gave it to Peo to eat but she instead made it into a “delicate arch” on her cupcake.

brushing the icing

Peo brushes the icing for the first time.

brushing royal icing

Peo put on some more icing and brushed it inward as well. She decided she wanted random shapes instead of flowers.

Peo brushing her royal icing out.

Peo continues work on her cupcake, all the while gleefully telling me how easy and fun this is.

Peo's first finished cupcake

Peo’s first completed brush embroidery cupcake!

Meanwhile, I worked in yellow with a #1 tip, which is really too small but I don’t have two #2 tips. To compensate, I later started adding a second layer with each piping, but for this one I just went with a single line to see how it would look.

brush embroidery yellow flower

I made a wiggly four-petal outer border, brushed it inward with a damp, small brush, and here am applying an inner layer. You can see that there’s no right or wrong with these shapes.

Then we just kept going through the cupcakes, trying various colour combinations and techniques. We’d agreed earlier that since she never gets around to eating very much Easter candy it goes to waste, so this year we decided to put Lego in her plastic Easter eggs for the hunt instead and focused on these homemade goodies as an alternative to candy.

making cupcakes together

This is a great way to explore creativity while hanging out with your kids!

And when we were done, the next fun part began:

Peo eating her cupcake

Really, I’m surprised she took the time to even start peeling the paper first.

inside of a pink, blue, and white cupcake

Peo’s cupcake on the inside: the colours have formed random rings and swirls around the mini chocolate chips. And yes of course she’s already eaten the icing off. She’s seven.

Here’s a finished tray. You can easily see that although Peo didn’t do standard flower shapes, she had no problem with the technique. We both hope this encourages everyone to give it a try. And remember what to do if you don’t like your results…EAT THE EVIDENCE NOM NOM NOM!

finished cupcakes in a pan

I probably should’ve put these on some kind of fancy display for a photo, but as usual, you don’t come to this blog for artistic photography. You come here to learn how to make delicious things for and with your family. It would’ve been cruel to all of us to make us wait for delicately posed photos before eating these!

second tray of finished cupcakes

The other tray, and the one missing is the one Peo was already eating at this point. You can also tell by these later ones that Peo was just having fun squirting swirls of icing as we went on. Nothing wrong with that! Oh and the yellow one in the left middle Peo meant to look like a face, and I think it does!

Here’s one cut in half so you can see the coloured pattern from the side:

sliced cupcake

Coloured vanilla cake, chocolate chips, chocolate topping. No cheap store-bought hollow bunny even compares to this goodness. Plus, these don’t have a tooth-cracking-hard nasty chalky eye on them.

And here are some close-ups of some of the cupcakes:

cupcake 1

Outer yellow squiggle, inner pink one, yellow dot in the middle, surrounded by green curlies and dots. So simple, so effective.

cupcake 2

Even more basic: outer yellow squiggle, inner yellow squiggle, three yellow dots in the middle, green curls and dots around.

cupcake 3

This is one of the ones where I doubled the #1 tip line. It’s still wet in this photo. Outer yellow squiggle, inner yellow squiggle, three pink dots in the middle, green curls and dots around. Easy peasy.

cupcake 4

Another doubled line one, this time with yellow dots in the middle but the tiniest of pink dots on top of them.

cupcake 5

Pink squiggle, in this case without even bothering to make the petals the same size as I went around. More yellow dots in the middle make it look like a completely different kind of flower.

cupcake 6

Two smaller flowers on this one, meaning less petal definition but also showing that that hardly matters. The pink one is one outer squiggle and then a large dot in the middle, and the yellow one has an outer squiggle, inner one, and a smaller single dot.

There you have it. Hope you had a happy Easter if you’re into that holiday, and let this inspire you to try out this easy and effective technique sometime on your own.

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This entry was posted in Cake Decorating, Cupcakes and Mini Cakes, Fancy cakes, Working With Kids. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Easter Cupcakes (Or Brush Embroidery Part 2: No Really, Try It!)

  1. Heart attack says:

    I like the flowers on your Easter cupcakes, though I’m not sure I will be able to make them as beautiful. I’m not as good in painting.

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