Today brings us to the end of Cupcake Week. I hope you had as much fun as I did with it!
No matter which cupcake is your favorite, you can make them all yours with a few simple tricks. I’m a big fan of not letting it be obvious that I just use a boxed cake mix (because we all know baking from scratch really is better), but I like things to be quick. As much as I love to bake, I don’t love standing over a stove for two hours while I painstakingly do something that could have been done with a boxed mix.
But turning that boxed mix into something that will leave everyone wondering where I learned to bake is always good.
Sprinkle On Top
The easiest way to make your cupcakes yours is to add something on top. It could be sprinkles, a cookie, graham cracker, chocolate, fruit, anything. Stick blueberries into the icing on a blueberry cupcake, sprinkle a s’mores cupcake with graham cracker crumbs, drizzle caramel over a dulce de leche cupcake, or add sprinkles for a little extra fun.
This is easy because it doesn’t require any extra planning. You can decide to decorate half the cupcakes one way and the other half another way. You can let your guests decorate their own (a big hit when there are kids involved). You can add anything you want and aren’t limited by what will survive the oven.
Plus, how fun is that? I mean really, who wants a plain chocolate cupcake when you can have a chocolate cupcake drizzled with extra chocolate and a peanut butter cup wedge on top? Well, okay, I’d eat them all, but you know what I’m saying!
Mix It In
Another simple way to customize your cupcakes is to put a surprise inside. I like doing this when I want people to think they’re just getting a regular old cupcake. It adds something special to it that surprises you on your first bite. Obviously, this is going into the oven so you might have to be careful. Keep an eye on your cupcakes to make sure whatever you add works well.
There are tons of things you can put in a cupcake. Some work better than others so you might want to test out a pan before you commit to the whole batch. Then again, how can you go wrong with cupcakes? Add candy cane pieces (small, like a crushed candy cane) in chocolate cupcakes for a holiday treat. Put an Oreo on the bottom of chocolate or vanilla cupcakes for a crunchy flavor burst (can do the same with Nilla Wafers, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chip cookies – experiment with it!). My kids love adding sprinkles to vanilla cupcake batter. I’m partial to peanut butter cups in a chocolate cupcake. And of course, you can do fruit or coffee or mint, really, you can have a lot of fun creating your very own favorite cupcake!
Paint It On
I’m a fan of buttercream frosting. I could eat it with a spoon (and have)! If you baked a raspberry lemonade cupcake, you might want something other than a standard vanilla icing though. Icing isn’t quite as easy to change as cake, though. It takes a little more finessing and planning ahead, because you might need something else from the store. Changing the color is easy, but changing the flavor isn’t.
I highly recommend looking up a recipe if you want a different icing flavor, but don’t let that stop you from experimenting! For the most part, you can start with a typical buttercream icing, then adjust it slightly to get the flavor you want.
For strawberry icing, it can be as simple as adding strawberry syrup and using strawberry milk. For peanut butter icing, add peanut butter to the mix. Mocha icing requires chocolate and instant espresso. Remember that you want bake your icing so anything you use needs to be edible as is.
Now I’m starving and really want cupcakes! I see a chocolate peanut butter cupcake with peanut butter icing and a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top in my future. Or maybe Oreo on the bottom chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and Oreo crumbles on top. Ooh, no. I want a s’mores cupcake – graham cracker crumbs on the bottom, chocolate cupcake, and marshmallow buttercream icing with a drizzle of chocolate and graham cracker crumbs sprinkled on top. Yeah, that’s the one!