Here are some simple tips and techniques to help you make beautiful cupcakes. If you have ever been curious about the pretty, ruffly swirls… I’m hear to show you how simple it really is! Piping frosting on cupcakes is actually quicker than spreading it on, and the results are much fancier!
Ready to make some beautiful cupcakes?
A large pastry bag
A Wilton 2D or 1M tip (the 2D is a closed star, the 1M is an open star, the end results are similar, with the 2D being slightly more ruffly)
A batch of delicious, thick icing (my favorite American Buttercream)
Baked and cooled cupcakes
1. Hold the piping bag straight up, start frosting from the outside edge (about 12 o’clock position), and begin swirling around the outside edge.
2.-3. Continue squeezing with constant pressure as you work around the edge of the cupcake (I go counter-clockwise, but I don’t think you have to).
4.-5. Continue in a spiral motion, creating another layer of icing, working in toward the center.
6. Finish the spiral in the center, release pressure on the bag, and pull straight up.
Voila! A beautifully frosted cupcake. At this point, you could add sprinkles and you have a beautiful dessert perfect for most any occasion.
A few notes… the most common problem people seem to have with piping frosting on cupcakes is the frosting not being thick enough to hold it’s shape. Make sure your ingredients (butter, milk, etc) are nice and cool as you make your icing, and make sure not to add too much liquid. If you find the icing a bit soft, you can put it in the refrigerator to firm up a bit, or if necessary add a bit more powdered sugar.
As with any craft or skill, making beautiful cupcakes requires a bit of practice and experimentation… but it shouldn’t be too hard to find people willing to eat your “practice”.
** Credits: TheTomKatStudio
Charming cupcakes wrapped in lace.
These make a really nice, rich pumpkin cupcake with a frosting that is creamy, without being too sweet. I think you will love them!
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
1 box Spice Cake Mix
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 °. Add ingredients into mixing bowl. Pour into prepared cups.
Bake 20-24 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
Cream together butter and cream cheese on slow speed in mixer. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat on high until peaks form. Frost cupcakes.
* Recipe Credit: Organized Island
I found this recipe on Design Eat Tepeat and it is hands-down my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe to date. I’m usually more of a chocolate type, but I also like to mix things up every now and then. These white wedding cupcakes with buttercream frosting are a close replica to a delicious bakery cake that you would find at a wedding. So moist, so easy, and of course…so very scrumptious.
Having a cake mix base, this recipe is kick-started for you so you don’t have to worry about leavening agents. I prefer to use an “extra-moist cake mix” to ensure they come out as perfect as possible. Because dry cupcakes = no bueno.
So you might be thinking, so what’s so different about this recipe if you are using a boxed cake mix? Well, I will tell you. The secret is sour cream and egg whites. Yes, sour cream ain’t just for your baked potato anymore. It is used to moisten many types of cakes/batters and any time I’ve used it, the result has always been amazing. And the egg whites? Since you are removing fat content (by taking out the yolk), you need to use the sour cream to balance that back out to produce a soft & moist cake.
And can we just talk about how cute the little straws are for a second? And the turquoise sprinkles
White Wedding Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
- 1 (18.25 ounce) box white cake mix
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⅓ cups water
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 large egg whites
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt.
- Once incorporated, add in the vegetable oil, vanilla, water, sour cream, and egg whites one at a time until combined (1½ to 2 minutes).
- Place cupcake liners into cupcake tine and scoop batter ¾ full into each.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick or fork come out clean.
This is my go-to recipe for icing basic cupcakes. It’s so easy to make, and it works through a piping bag well
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons whipping cream
1. In a large bowl, with a hand or stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on low speed. Mix until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
2. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for desired spreading/piping consistency.
3. Scoop into a piping bag and pipe decoratively onto cupcakes, or spread onto cupcakes as desired.
* Photo Credits: Design Eat Rpeat
Make your own ombre cupcake liners for parties & holidays!
What you’ll need:
- White cupcake liners
- Food coloring
- Bowls for mixing the dye in that are wide enough on the bottom to fit the top of a cupcake liner
- Newspaper or an old sheet to protect the surface you’re working on (it can get messy)
It’s pretty simple actually, all you have to do is mix the food coloring in a bowl with some water (use more water for lighter shades) and then dip the top of the cupcake liner in it.
The cupcake liners don’t soak up the dye very quickly, so if your rather impatient just swish them around in the dye so the process goes much faster. Swishing them around means that the color at the top won’t be even, but I kind of like it that way.
* Photo Credit: Little Wren
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced in to 1/4-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Juice of half lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 can (12.4 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls
- whipped cream
- caramel-flavored syrup
- Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray 8 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.
- In 10-inch skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add apples; cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, the cinnamon and salt. Cook 5 minutes longer or until tender. Stir in lemon juice.
Meanwhile make streusel topping; in small bowl, mix butter, flour, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and walnuts with fork or hands until crumbly. Set aside.
Separate dough into 8 rolls. Flatten each into 4-inch round; place in muffin cup.
Divide apple filling evenly onto rolls in muffin cups. Divide streusel topping mixture evenly over apples.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until bubbly and tops are lightly browned. Cool slightly before removing from muffin cups. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Serve cupcakes topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of syrup.
Ever wonder how some people can make their cupcakes turn out so pretty? The trick is to pipe the icing onto your cupcakes instead of just frosting it on with a butter knife.
Piped icing makes cupcakes taller, more elegant, and in my opinion more tempting. It’s not overly difficult to learn to work with a piping bag…Yes you do it with a little practice!
One stumbling block in learning to pipe is that it can be messy to get the icing from the bowl into the bag. That is why I am going to show you how to avoid the frustration of getting the icing all over your hands, tools and counter.
This easy tutorial will start you out with a solid foundation for your icing adventures. Neat freaks—this lesson is for you!
What You’ll Need
1. A bowl of fresh room temperature icing. In this example, we’re using vanilla meringue buttercream.
2. A reusable piping bag. I like to use Ateco bags , but what you’re looking for is a sturdy bag that’s fairly large so you don’t have to refill it too many times while you are working. If you only plan to make small batches, then a smaller bag will do just fine.
3. A large piping tip. For this example I’m using an open star tip.
4. A rubber spatula.
5. A plastic bowl scraper that has a straight edge…and your secret weapon.
6. A tall glass or mug. A glass that’s about this shape.
Let’s get started!
Drop your tip down into the piping bag, small side down. Notice I am not using a plastic coupler here - it’s not really necessary unless you’re going to be switching the tip a lot with the same icing in the bag. I just use lots of bags, usually one per flavor.
Take your newly tipped bag and put it into your tall glass or mug. Putting the bag in a mug or glass just makes it easier if you are new to the experience. Fold the top edges of the bag down around the outside of the glass, about halfway down. Congratulations, you are ready to fill your bag with that delicious icing you just made (or bought…I won’t tell)! Once you are more comfortable with the process, you can fold the bag over one hand and fill it with the other.
Above, you can see the no-glass method.
Grab your trusty spatula and start transferring icing into the bag. Don’t worry if you get icing on the edges. You turned it inside out for a reason. You will be filling it about halfway, which will allow you enough control of what you are piping, plus give you something to hold onto at the top.
Once you’ve filled the bag up to the edge of the glass, or maybe just a little higher, lift the bag up by the edges and gently shake everything down toward the tip. Satisfying, right?
Take the flat edge of your bowl scraper and push any remaining icing down.
Grasp the top of the bag and give it a twist or two to make the icing snug and cozy inside.
Holding the bag as pictured, squeeze a little icing back into your bowl to get rid of any air pockets.
You now have a perfectly filled icing bag that is ready to begin decorating delicious cupcakes!
Baked Alaska is a layered dessert consisting of cake, ice cream and sweet meringue, so it wasn’t terribly difficult to translate into cupcake form. To begin, you’ll need a “naked” cupcake - no wrappers! They’d catch fire, and we certainly don’t want burning paper on our delicious treat.
You have two options to obtain your “naked” cupcakes: 1.) Bake cupcakes without liners in a greased and floured cupcake pan. 2.) For easy clean-up, use your least cutesy cupcake papers and just peel them away before you begin assembling the cakes. I’m all for the latter - one less pan to wash. Inexpensive parchment paper liners will do just fine.
To make the blue-flame magic happen, turn down the lights and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of warmed brandy over each meringue-coated cupcake. Ignite with a grill lighter or a long fireplace match.
Flaming Baked Alaska Cupcakes:
Yield: 10-12 cupcakes&
Use your favorite cupcake recipe, or the Basic Vanilla Cupcake recipe (below)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
2 cups of your favorite ice cream for filling cupcakes
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
2. Gradually beat in the sugar until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Transfer half the meringue to a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
3. Preheat oven to hottest setting (this is usually broil).
4. Remove the cupcakes from freezer. Set each cupcake on their own small plate, and then set the plates on one or two large baking sheets. Immediately pipe meringue swirl on top of the cupcakes, covering/enveloping the ice cream completely. Use an off-set spatula to coat the lower part of the cupcakes with meringue.
5. Place cupcakes under broiler until meringue is lightly browned - be sure to give this step your undivided attention! Remove from the oven and present to guests. Gently pour 2 tbsp. brandy over each cupcake. Ignite the brandy with a long kitchen match and let burn until the flame subsides
6. When the flames die down, serve immediately.
Note: As a safety precaution, keep cupcakes on the metal baking sheet until flame subsides.
* This recipe can be found in one of my favorite cookbooks:
I love decorating cupcakes more than cakes because if you mess one up you just eat it and hide the evidence instead of crying because you have wrecked the entire cake. So these cute gridiron cupcakes are right up my alley. It doesn’t hurt that the footballs are made out of chocolate covered almonds!
You can check out the recipe for these Championship Chocolate cupcakes and a tutorial on how to decorate them over at Cakewalker.
If you’re craving towering tiers and buttercream, this staggering confection is proof that you can serve cupcakes without sacrificing those classic-cake moments. Inspired by tradition, this vanilla cake is fresh, fun, and meant for sharing.
As much as I love American fudge frosting, nothing beats the decadent, indulgent taste and texture of chocolate ganache. Made of pure chocolate and heavy cream, ganache is a chocolate lovers best friend. It’s versatility as a glaze, decorative piping, and whipped cream answers the need for icing, frosting, and filling.
Below I have pictured 3 different ways to adorn cupcakes using the same recipe. As a glaze, you can easily pour ganache over cakes for a nice smooth finish.
If you are looking for a chocolate whipped filling, look no further. Just whip the ganache as you would heavy cream, making sure your mixing bowl and beater are nice and cold. And whatever you do, not put your ganache in the freezer with the hopes of whipping it. It will not whip and have a curdly like texture.
For a thick frosting or decorative piping, allow the ganache to cool for a truffle like texture.
Anyway you decide to eat it, this ganache will satisfy your sweet tooth and chocolate cravings.
Below are step by step photos to guide you. Enjoy!
- 12 ounces chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- optional 3 tablespoons flavored liqueor
Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cakes as a glaze.
The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the thicker it will set. Typically I stick mine in the refrigerator so it is slightly cold before whipping.
For piping or frosting, allow the ganache to completely cool and set up. When you are able to spoon the ganache and it can hold its texture, it is ready for piping.
I think this might be my new favorite cupcake. The cupcake itself came out very chocolaty & moist but not too pudding like. The peanut butter added just the right amount of saltiness & had the great stick to the roof of your mouth feel.
These would be great treats to serve at a bridal shower or your next party
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/4 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder
6 T water
1 c sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 t vanilla
1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 c creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 12 muffin cups by lining with paper or greasing.
Melt butter in a large heavy sauce pan over med-low heat. Whisk in cocoa. Add water & whisk until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in separately sugar, egg, yogurt and vanilla. Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt together then sift into cocoa mixture. Whisk until just combined. Fill cupcake tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool.
Fill a pastry bag with the peanut butter & fit it with a star tip. Stick the tip into the top of a cupcake, pushing it about 3/4 inch deep (I found the perfect depth was the length of the tip). Gently squeeze the pastry bag to fill the cupcake, withdrawing it slowly as you squeeze. Scrape any excess peanut butter from the top of the cupcake. Fill all the cupcakes.
Perfect Chocolate Frosting.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
- 2/3 cup dutch processes cocoa
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
About 2 cups frosting.
Top each cupcake with a star of peanut butter.
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 pound cream cheese, softened
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- Optional - Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish
For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
Cook’s Note: Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip. Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.
* Recipe Credit: Paula Deen