Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sesame Street Cupcakes

I like it when people have birthdays, because then I really have an excuse to go over-the-top and bake something awesome. Cake is great, but you need a proper gathering for cake, in somebody's house. Those sort of things don't generally happen amongst people of my age, instead it is all 'let's go for a few drinks somewhere' and you can't take a cake to a pub. So I make cupcakes and I take them to work to share. They're a lot easier than having a big cake that needs to be cut, they're cute, and everybody seems to love them. Especially when I decorate them in some extravagant way. Like making them into sesame street characters.

See, it all started last year, when there was a little charity bake sale on and they had these sesame street cupcakes. I brought one and examined it thoroughly before eating it, then said to my friends that I could surely do that myself, and for the next birthday I made a batch of little Cookie Monsters. That was a year ago and the same birthday has come around again so I decided to stick with the theme and make ... Elmo cupcakes!

Hopefully they get a lot of laughs. Below is a modified version of my fall-back-on cupcake recipe and decorating instructions, and perhaps one day I will add Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird to the list.

Elmo Cupcakes

125 grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons strawberry pudding powder or milkshake mix plus extra red food colouring
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk

125 grams butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons strawberry pudding powder/milkshake mix
Dessicated coconut
Red food colouring
White chocolate buttons
Dark chocolate drops
Orange gobstoppers (or other spherical, orange candy)
Oreo cookies

First of all, heat the oven to 180 degrees. Cupcakes are very easy to make so turn the oven on early otherwise your batter will be ready before the oven is. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper liners and set it aside.

Soften the butter a little in the microwave, then add the sugar and beat until it is creamy. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter should be smooth and quite liquid at this point.

Next add the flavouring and colouring and beat the mixture well again. Now, what I mean when I say pudding powder is this product below, which at home in NZ we call instant pudding. You add it to milk and beat it, then refrigerate it for just 10 minutes and it sets into a milky jelly-like pudding. It's really good and I was really excited when I found it here in Ireland. For lack of some product like this, however, you could use milkshake powder. Or you could just leave the whole pink/strawberry part out and make normal, vanilla cupcakes.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and beat again, at which point you may find that the mixture has become quite thick and stiff. Beat in the milk and the mixture is finished! If you have white chocolate drops feel free to fold some in (I added the extra white chocolate buttons, after counting out enough for the eyes).

Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If your oven is like mine you will want to turn the tray halfway through baking. Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then remove them and let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

Now, this may seem to be sort of long winded and labour intensive, but it's really not so hard and doesn't take so long as all that. The first thing that you have to do while the cupcakes are cooling is mix up some frosting. It's very simple. Soften the butter, then beat the icing sugar and pudding/milkshake powder into it (or leave it out if you don't have any and maybe add a little vanilla essence). That's it, the frosting is done. Easy, right? Take a little of the frosting out and put it on a plate - you will need some plain coloured frosting to stick all the facial features on. Then add colour to the frosting to make it as red as possible. If you only have liquid colouring like I did then your frosting will always be pink and not red. Which is why we need coconut.

Pour some coconut into a bowl and add red food colouring. Stir it all about, add more colour if you need to, until the coconut is bright red. You will find that the coconut picks up the colour much better than frosting and cake batter does.

Finally, prepare the faces. I found that it was easiest to stick the chocolate drops onto the chocolate buttons before putting them on Elmo's face, so do that now, using the un-coloured frosting as your glue. Carefully separate each oreo cookie and then gently slice each in half, to make two half-circles. You will find that they crumble easily, so it's lucky that there are plenty in a pack. I'm sure you will be able to find somebody to eat all of the broken ones.

Finally, it's decorating time! First, spread a nice thick layer of frosting onto the cupcake. Then roll the top of the cupcake in the coconut into all of the frosting is covered. Now Elmo has fur. Press an oreo half into one side of the cupcake. Then press a gobstopper above that. Finally, add two eyes. A couple of my Elmo's looked a bit insane - I googled a picture of the real Elmo and discovered that, first of all, his nose is not touching his mouth, and secondly, his eyes are very close together. So that is how you make Elmo:

Now, I would recommend frosting all of the cupcakes before getting carried away with making faces because you'd be pretty annoyed if you ran out of frosting before you finished and couldn't scrape any off of the others because they were already covered in Elmo's fur and face. When you are done, take a picture and send it to your friends to make them jealous. That's what I have done.

Wow, this is a really long blog post. I'm not finished yet either. First I wanted to briefly explain how to make Cookie Monster. First of all, really basic step this one: don't colour the cupcakes pink! Make them blue. Make them vanilla flavoured, or any flavour really (you can use custard powder instead of pudding/milkshake powder). Make the frosting and coconut blue. You will need white chocolate buttons and chocolate drops, but Cookie Monster has no nose so you don't need to worry about that. He does have a mouth, so you could use oreo halves again. However, I used small chocolate chip cookies, cut in half and stuck on with frosting so that it looked like he was munching cookies. I think it would be good to have a mixture of both. The cupcakes below are not as good as the Elmos above - the icing was too runny and I was in a hurry so things drifted a bit. The one in the middle looks good though, so just look at him and ignore the sad, melting monsters around the edges.


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  2. These are totally AWESOME !!
    My mouth is wide-open (just like these faces) - seeing these cute and most adorable cupcakes
    Wonderful job!

  3. They are so cute and you are very creative

  4. Hi Jaimie,
    These Cupcakes are just adorable, your did a great job! Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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