Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Cookie Monster Cupcake How-To

My son turned two years old a few weeks ago and we celebrated with a cookie-monster themed birthday party. Him and I were both sick, but I wanted to shower him with as much love as possible before his baby brother turns his life upside down in a few weeks. So, I made this cookie-monster cupcake in his honor. It may have been my last attempt at doing something I'm very proud of, because I'm pretty tired these days.

Trust me when I say, if I can make this, you can make this. I am very artistically-challenged. I think that part of my brain never developed properly. I can't draw stick figures any better than my 2-year-old, and I remember I couldn't draw a heart until 1st grade.

Because of my condition and the fact I was also throwing a party the next day, I decided to use a cake mix for the cup cake. I made the icing from scratch because I needed it to be a particular texture to create Cookie Monster. The taste of the cake was absolutely disgusting. I am so used to baking my own desserts that I can't stand boxed cake mix at all! The icing was great. I used a standard American buttercream recipe and food coloring to turn it blue.

My son's reaction: he kissed it, told me to kiss it, took one bite, told me it was good, and promptly demanded a bowl of fruit. He is so my kid.

I'm now 38 weeks pregnant and looking huge! I've gained about 20 pounds, which is ten pounds less than I gained my first pregnancy. Something to be happy about! I was teaching Body Attack pretty well up until last week when what seemed to be out of nowhere, I was experiencing tons of pain during the impact. So I started team-teaching a few days ago and doing much of the class low-impact. Because I'm so far along, it still feels like a workout, but I feel safe about it.

My son got peanut butter on my already crappy camera, so we are still using our iPhones to take pictures. Unacceptable for when the baby comes... please... if you have a camera you love (other than the Canon Powershot), let me know what it is! Here is what I look like at 38 weeks pregnant. Is it just me, or does this baby look like he's sitting in a chair in my stomach?! Believe it or not, his head is down. I can't wait to meet this pointy butt!!!

The Cookie Monster Cupcake How-To

Technique adapted by NicolaBakes on this video
American Buttercream recipe from Savory Sweet Life

This makes a ton of cake and icing. If you don't want any leftovers, reduce the recipe, especially for the icing.

Chocolate cake batter or chocolate cake mix, follow directions to create the batter
Chocolate chip cookies - anything will do
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature. Let it sit for a few hours to be sure.
3-4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
approximately 2 tablespoons of milk or heavy cream (I used heavy cream)
blue food coloring
4-6 jumbo marshmallows
4-6 chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli for the wide shape)

You'll need a standard cupcake tin AND a jumbo cupcake tin. You could opt for a standard cupcake tin and a mini one, but I think that would make a really small monster and may be harder to work with. You'll also need a pastry bag with a wide, star-like tip, but you could easily just pipe the icing with a plastic ziplock bag with a corner cut off. It just won't work as well.

Watch the video before attempting this project! I simplified their method and ended up with the same result, so I recommend my adaptations for time-saving.

Bake the cupcakes in both the jumbo and standard cupcake tins. To give yourself some room to mess up, make at least four jumbo cupcakes. Let them cool completely, and then remove the muffin tops with a knife so the cakes are flat on top. Set them aside. I made mine two days before I made Cookie Monster.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter on medium speed with a paddle attachment (hand mixer will work just fine) for about 3 minutes until fluffy and soft. Slowly add the sugar on the lowest possible speed so it doesn't blow everywhere. I added 4 cups. When it's fully incorporated  add the salt, vanilla, and milk/heavy cream. You can add more milk/cream if you want your icing thinner, but you will be thinning it with food coloring and you will need this to be a formidable frosting. After the frosting is made, you can add your food coloring until it's your desired color.

Take the jumbo marshmallows, place them on a plate, and use a small amount of icing to "glue" a chocolate chip in the corner of each "eye". Place the plate in the fridge to set.

Place the buttercream in an icing bag with a wide, star-like tip. Use the frosting to glue the bottom of one small cupcake to the center of a large one. Then, pipe it around the entire cake until the smaller cupcake is completely covered. Using an offset spatula (or a butter-knife), smooth the frosting as much as you can and remove any spaces.

Take a small knife, cut a portion of the cupcake/icing towards the bottom of the icing where you want Cookie Monster's mouth to be. Remove the excess cake and icing. Place the cupcake in the fridge for 15 minutes to set. After it sets, cover the cupcake in more frosting by dotting it around the entire cake. Don't forget to do it around the mouth, and don't miss any spaces! Then, using a fork, fluff the icing further to create a more wild-haired look. Place the marshmallows on the top of the cupcake and gently push them into the frosting. Then take a cookie and place it in the mouth of cookie monster. If it doesn't fit, don't force it. Just cut it to size and keep the rounded portion of it on the outside. Put Cookie Monster back in the fridge for another 15 minutes to totally set! Then enjoy watching your little one's excitement!

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