On a whim, I decided to try these butterfly cupcakes out, just to see if I could do it. Every once in a while I get inspired to do something creative with food, usually desserts. I promise, these looked way better in person than they do in these photos.
A while back, I bought a book called Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make. The problem I had with the book, initially, was that it seemed like a sloppy way to decorate. I’m a Wilton ga’ with a big toolbox full of various decorator tips, bags, colors and tools. I’ve taken a series of classes and know how to make roses, clowns, you name it with frosting via the Wilton methods. The idea of cutting the end of a Ziploc bag and squeezing frosting out the end, as recommended by Hello, Cupcake! totally disappointed me, at first.
Anyway, I started with the basic Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes. After making these multiple times, I believe the key is to slightly under-cook them. I have very fast Dacor ovens so always cut the recommended time. I then made a buttercream frosting that I colored yellow. I’m a buttercream person.
Butterfly Cupcake Wing Templates
Make copies of the butterfly wing templates in Hello, Cupcake! and put them underneath wax paper. The wax paper will help you transport the finished wings and antennae to cool on the counter, in the fridge or in the freezer. The book has two sizes of wings, but I will tell you that the larger wings were too difficult to work with. They look great, but aren’t a practical size to transport or eat. Most people will take the larger wings off, put them to the side, and eat the rest of the cupcake. They also have a tough time standing upright in the frosting due to the weight. I would recommend that you stick with the smaller template as they look equally impressive.
Butterfly Cupcake Wing Ingredients
At Michael’s or Joann stores, you can find Wilton Candy Melts of almost any color for around $2.50 per bag. For 2 dozen cupcakes I didn’t even use one bag of each color required, orange and dark brown. Get a Ziploc bag and toss a handful of candy melts in it. Slowly microwave, until completely melted. Cut a small hole in the corner of the Ziploc bag and start to decorate. When the candies cool and start to harden, put them back in the microwave to soften.
Making The Butterfly Cupcake Wings
Squeeze melted brown candy over the outline of the wing template. Then, take the melted orange candy and start to fill in the wing. Use a toothpick and use it to massage the orange candy into the brown or vice versa. You don’t have much time before the candy in the bags hardens, so be quick. Sprinkle the white dots on the edges. Complete an entire wing before moving on to the next one.
If you need to complete the cupcakes shortly after making the wings, pop the wings in the freezer for a few minutes in order to harden them. When they are hard, it’s easier to peel them off the wax paper. I had a cupcake party the other day and learned that without popping the candy designs into the freezer first, it’s hard to peel them off the wax paper, even if they’ve set for a while.
Butterfly Cupcake Antennae
Make sure that you make the antennae thick and long enough. You’ll need to shove the antennae quite a bit into the cupcake itself, and you don’t want it to break during the process.
Butterfly Cupcake Assembly
Frost the cupcakes. Place wings on cupcake. Take brown colored frosting and make big dots for body and head. This helps “seal” the gaps between the wings. I used a Wilton bag and tips to do this but you could just as easily cut a hole in the end of the Ziploc bag and squeeze. It’s probably less accurate and I like using the reusable Wilton bags for environmental reasons. Next time, I’d use a smaller Wilton tip to make the brown circles of the body and head smaller.
I know these butterfly cupcakes sound like a lot of work, but they actually weren’t. I was able to crank out almost 2 dozen cupcake wings in a little over a 30 minute soap opera that was on in the background. I’d make them on a half sheet pan (to keep templates from slipping, I taped them on the half sheet pan), lift the completed set off (remember, they’re on wax paper) and put them on another half sheet pan that was going in the freezer. I laid out more wax paper, and repeated. I will tell you that my first few butterfly wings were horrid, so practice makes perfect. I froze the extra wings and frosting. I plan to use them tomorrow to quickly make cupcakes for guests.
I made the pig and duck cupcakes in Hello, Cupcake! and let me tell you they were a pain. I took pictures of those. They look great, but I’ve never been so frustrated. All in all, I’m very pleased with the book, because I never expect a 100% success rate.