Tag Archives: chocolate butterflies

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes

(and a gender reveal–NO, not mine)

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I first made these chocolate butterfly cupcakes for my sweet Little J’s 6th birthday. I was feeling very nostalgic about having my last baby in kindergarten and we had a super fun cooking party with a few of her friends. It is (by far) my favorite kids’ birthday party that I’ve hosted. I still get a little bit weepy just thinking about it. If you like a good sentimental cry, you can read about it HERE.

Then last month, a friend asked if I could make some gender reveal cupcakes to announce the sex of their upcoming new baby to their other four children. While I am perfectly content with the 5 children I already have and have no desire to start again with another one (5 years and counting until we are empty nesters!), celebrating with other new moms always makes me reflect on my own babies that are not babies any more.

So I happily agreed, and immediately knew that I wanted to make these butterflies again, for my friend and her family who are welcoming a new life into their family, and for me to reminisce about my own little ones and the joy it has been parenting them. And having my Little J (who isn’t so little anymore) help me make the butterflies and cupcakes was a really great experience.

And because writing this is making me feel nostalgic all over again (and this is my blog so I get to indulge my wistful feelings as much as I want), here is my Little J, then and now:

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Enough about me and my maudlin ramblings; you really just want to hear about the cupcakes. For my friend, I made my favorite dark chocolate cupcakes. They are tender and moist and absolutely delicious. It also doesn’t hurt that they are easy to make. They start with a cake mix, but the addition of pudding and sour cream takes them well beyond your average chocolate cupcake.

For the “gender reveal”, I cut out a section of the top of each cupcake and filled it with a blue filling (It’s a Boy!!). For the filling, I mixed the white frosting with some of the leftover blue candy melts from the butterflies and piped it into the cut-out centers.

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The frosting I used is a cooked vanilla frosting. It is not as sweet as a traditional buttercream, but is light and fluffy and delicious. I tinted the frosting with pink and blue food coloring to make a striped frosting.

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To create the two-toned look, use a paintbrush and food coloring to paint stripes onto the inside of a pastry bag. (Credit to my hand model Little J!) Carefully spoon white frosting into the bag. Before frosting the cupcakes, squeeze out a small amount of frosting until the color begins to show in the frosting. I used a 1M tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.

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Now on to the butterflies. Full disclosure: these are time consuming. But they are not particularly difficult. Just be prepared to spend several hours making them if you plan to make a lot.

Items needed:
chocolate and colored candy melts, stencil printed on paper, waxed paper, toothpicks, foil, pastry bags (one for each color), one writing piping tip, small round sprinkles. Optional: heating pad

Draw your desired butterfly wing shape onto a sheet of white paper using a permanent marker. Cut pieces of waxed paper (one for each set of wings you are making) large enough to cover the stencil. You can also draw a set of antennae if desired (see example HERE).

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Place a small amount of colored and chocolate melting disks into separate pastry bags or Ziploc bags. Melt in microwave—Start with 30 seconds, squish bags, then add an additional 10 seconds if not completely melted.

To keep the chocolate melted while making dozens of wings, I placed a piece of plastic wrap over a heating pad and set the bags on the heating pad while they weren’t being used.

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I used a writing tip to pipe the chocolate, but I just cut off a small end of the bag to squeeze out the melted colored candy.

Place a small square of waxed paper over your stencil paper. Use the melted chocolate to trace around the edge of one wing at a time.

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While the chocolate outline is still wet, squeeze a small amount of colored chocolate into the center of each wing section. I used pink in the top section and blue in the bottom section. Use a toothpick to spread colored chocolate to fill the wing. Use a toothpick to gently swirl chocolate edges and colored chocolate. Sprinkle edges of wings with round sprinkles, if desired.

Work with just one wing at a time. The chocolate hardens quickly!

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Let the wings harden completely before assembling butterflies.

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To make the body and assemble the butterflies, fold a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil in half and then into a v-shape with a flat bottom (about 1/2” wide).

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Using the melted chocolate (remove the writing tip), pipe a body onto a separate piece of waxed paper (or directly onto the bottom section of the folded foil). Make little dollops of chocolate, being sure that they touch.

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Place segmented body (before it hardens) into the folded foil and place the wings at an angle into the still soft chocolate body. Prop them up underneath if the foil doesn’t hold them. (Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of this step)

Don’t use your fingers to support the wings while the body dries: the chocolate will melt in your fingers and ruin the wings.

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Gently press a butterfly onto the top of each frosted cupcake.

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Did you know that a group of butterflies is called a “Kaleidoscope.” What a perfect description of these butterflies! Whatever they are officially called, your family will call them beautiful and delicious!

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RECIPES:

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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

1 box dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1 small box (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
½ cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350°F . Place cupcake liners in muffin tins.

In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and beat with a mixer for 2 minutes.

Fill cupcake liners just over halfway. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 30-36 cupcakes.

 

Cooked Vanilla Frosting

2 cups whole milk
10 Tbs flour
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups butter
2 cups granulated sugar (do not use powdered sugar)
Optional: gel food coloring

In a small saucepan, mix the flour and milk until no lumps remain. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until mixture thickens (and is just about to boil). Remove from heat and let it cool completely to room temperature.  Stir in vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl (a stand mixer works best for this) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled milk mixture and beat for 5-7 minutes, until frosting is light, fluffy and completely uniform throughout. Beat in food coloring, if desired.

This frosting looks best when piped with a large decorating tip, but can also be spread with a spatula.

Yield: frosting for 24-36 cupcakes

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Butterfly Cupcakes with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Icing

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For bookgroup this month, we read Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander. It is an autobiographical account of neurosurgeon Dr. Alexander’s experience while he was in a coma. It is an interesting glimpse into his vision of the afterlife and how the experience changes him when he returns. We were meeting at my house this month and I wanted to tie our dessert into the book. So I decided to recreate the butterfly on the book cover which plays a roll in Dr. Alexander’s experience.

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I ran out of steam (and time) after making 11 butterflies, so the rest I just topped with a fresh raspberry. I love these cupcake liners that look like a field of grass.

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The cupcakes are made from a simple doctored white cake mix and are filled with a raspberry filling in the center. The icing is a Swiss Meringue Buttercream into which I beat some of the raspberry filling. No food coloring, just thickened raspberry puree.

Here is a picture of similar white cupcakes with raspberry filling (before I replaced their little cake caps that I cut out to make holes):

Raspberry Filling

I first made these chocolate butterflies on cupcakes for Little J’s 6th birthday three years ago. Here is a link to a tutorial on making the butterflies:

HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE BUTTERFLIES

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RECIPES:

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White Cupcakes
  (from Our Best Bites)

1 box white cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites (or 3 whole eggs if you don’t need it perfectly white)
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you want a pure white cake)
1 tsp almond extract

Mix all dry ingredients with a whisk, then add wet ingredients. Beat with a mixer for two minutes until fluffy.

To make a round layer cake: Pour into greased, floured pans (fills two 8 or 9″ rounds) and bake according to cake package directions.

Tip:  When cakes come out, cool for 5 minutes on wire rack, then wrap securely with two sheets of plastic wrap (in a “+” sign). Allow to cool all wrapped up (keeps the moisture from evaporating out) then pop in freezer on a cutting board to keep them flat. Once they are frozen, they are super easy to frost and defrost in about half an hour.

To make cupcakes: fill paper liners 3/4 full and bake according to box directions.  Makes 36 regular sized cupcakes.

Raspberry Filling

12 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen (about 2 1/2 cups of not crushed fresh berries)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
2-3 Tbs ClearJel or cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

In a heavy saucepan, combine raspberries, 1/2 cup water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, crushing berries slightly with the back of a spoon. For a seedless sauce: strain the berries through a fine sieve, pushing the pulp through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Return seedless puree to the saucepan (rinse saucepan first if there are seeds clinging to the sides). Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir into puree in the saucepan. Return mixture to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly thickened and no longer cloudy. Chill before using.

Yield: about 1 3/4 cups filling (without seeds)

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing

1 cup egg whites (about 8 large egg whites, or use “Just Whites” egg white powder, reconstituted)
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks), at room temperature**
2 tsp vanilla extract (or use small amounts of other flavored extracts)
about 1 cup Raspberry filling (see recipe above)

In the top of a double boiler, stir together  egg whites, sugar and salt. Bring water in bottom of double boiler to a low simmer; cook until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 160°F and sugar is completely dissolved (rub mixture between fingertips-it should not feel gritty). Mixture will be foamy and not a uniform consistency.

Transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip until meringue is completely cooled and glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. DO NOT ADD BUTTER UNTIL BOTH THE BOWL AND FROSTING ARE COMPLETELY COOL. Switch mixer attachment from the whisk to paddles. Add butter 1-2 Tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Mixture may appear curdled at times. Continue beating until butter is fully incorporated and frosting is fluffy and smooth.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Add vanilla and beat smooth. Add raspberry filling and beat until frosting is a uniform color (start with about 3/4 cup filling, beat, and then add more if you want a more pronounced raspberry flavor).

**BUTTER NOTE: butter should be room temperature soft, but not at the point of melting. If the butter is too cold, it will not incorporate well into the meringue, and you will have butter chunks. If the butter is over-soft, it will cause the icing to curdle while beating-this is okay, it isn’t ruined: it will just take longer (more beating) for the frosting to become smooth. If icing still won’t set, place in the fridge for 20 minutes, and then beat again.

Storage:  Store frosted cake at room temperature (frosted cake will be fine at room temp for several days).  This is a great icing that does not get “crusty” like a regular buttercream. To store leftover icing: store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, bring to room temperature and beat until light and fluffy.

Yield: frosting for a two-layer round cake or about 24 cupcakes

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Butterfly Wings and Apron Strings

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This weekend was my baby girl’s 6th birthday.

As we count down the days to the end of kindergarten, I am also counting down to the first time in 18 years that I will have all of my children in school all day. So what is more fitting for the birthday of my last stay-at-home-at-least-part-of-the-day child than a party full of apron strings (that I’m longing to keep tied) and butterfly wings (that she is yearning to open and fly).

So we planned a “Cooking Party” for 6 little girls, complete with hand-sewn aprons, chef hats, and a make-your-own menu of mini pizzas, fruit kabobs and butterfly cupcakes.

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Our butterfly cupcakes, inspired by Annie’s Eats.

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Little J modeling the apron she helped design and make. And if you look close enough, you can see (or not see) the first tooth that she lost on the night of her birthday!

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So, how come no one ever told me that there was such a thing as a “bias tape maker” before I made about 600 yards of bias tape with just a pair of scissors and an iron!? (Actually it was closer to 20 yards, but it sure felt like 600)

0401010 023-1 All of my love to my sweet Little J, who is growing into such a lovely young lady! As you stretch your wings and fly, I hope you never completely forget those apron strings we tied together.

 

Tomorrow: a tutorial on how to make Butterfly Cupcakes, plus a totally delicious cupcake frosting (from someone who picks the frosting off of just about every cake around).

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