if you can’t draw a butterfly to save your life, just locate some line drawings and trace them through the parchment. No pencils necessary!
Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I have holidayed in Seattle and come back and I’ve made many cakes that I have yet to write about. I purchased way too much cool stuff at Mrs. Cook’s and Sur La Table but all I can say is at least I’m doing my bit to help the economy.
Though travelling is way more fun now that we have a larger (and brand new) vehicle with dvd players in the headrests, I caution you not to get these things unless you’re sure your kids don’t get car-sick watching t.v. Bebe threw up on the way back up to the Canadian border. Fortunately, I had stored the potty right between the kids in the back seat because there was no room in the trunk. I heard a cough…followed by the wet belch. Immediately, my motherly instincts took over and I grabbed the potty and swung it under her mouth just in time. yuck. At least, after cleaning up and freshening up at a rest stop, Bebe slept the rest of the way home and that helped alleviate the usual painfully loud banter and petty fights between the two kids.
I realize I’ll never top Bebe’s 5th birthday cake: Ariel’s Underwater Castle. It was a multi-dayed project that resulted in a lot of oohs and ahs, but I didn’t feel that her 6th would warrant such a large cake. For one, only having 6 girls at a ceramics studio means not much cake is going to be eaten. I decided upon cupcakes instead. Bebe’s into butterflies so I thought I’d make her some chocolate ones to decorate the cupcakes. Since pink is her colour of choice, I have pink bodies surrounded by a chocolate-brown outline. This colour scheme mimics the chocolate cake and pink buttercream too.
After lining an upside down sheet pan with parchment and securing it on one side, I slid a sheet of butterfly patterns underneath the parchment. I chose to just do wings and opted to leave the antennae out. If you want anatomically correct butterflies, go ahead and pipe a pair of antennae in chocolate for each pair of wings you make. I find them way too tiny to deal with to bother. After finishing the sheet of images, I just kept sliding the template over to create more butterfly images. I set my chocolate over a heating pad set on low heat to keep it from hardening too quickly. I find it easier than a pan of hot water. The only problem I encountered: air bubbles in the chocolate as it cooled. You have to pipe pretty fast. The air bubbles ruin your ability to make thin, even lines.
When the chocolate outlines harden, you can fill a piping bag with another colour of chocolate (tint white chocolate using a gel paste or powdered food colouring or use coloured candy melts). The wings have to dry completely and after they do, you can carefully peel them off to use them. If you make a whole bunch and want to store them, I’d advise you just leave them stuck onto the parchment. I cut my chocolate butterfly-adorned parchment into small squares and stored them in layers in a plastic container.
You can use the chocolate butterfly outlines to decorate your cupcakes too. You just have to handle them very carefully as they break if you jostle them or even breathe on them. As well, you may want to wear gloves because you may melt them or leave fingerprints. I have cool hands so I just worked quickly. The ones I ruined, well, I just swore and them popped them in my mouth. It’s all good. Let it go.
Not willing to leave well enough alone, I decided to make little fondant flowers and plopped those on the cupcakes too. Check out the Castle Cake (Part 1) for instructions on how to make fondant flowers.
I found that setting the wings into the freshly piped buttercream to be the easiest way to set them into “butterfly form”. Since I didn’t make antennae I also didn’t bother with the bodies (which you could pipe in with buttercream I suppose. I figured there was enough buttercream there to hold the wings in place. Check out this post for a quick and easy recipe for buttercream.
If you place the wings just so, you could squish the buttercream a bit to look like a body anyway. I felt that after peeling the chocolate butterflies off of the parchment, the flat side of the chocolate that touched the parchment created a less bumpy appearance and so I used that for the top sides of the butterflies.
Looking at the simple and elegant chocolate butterfly outline over the filled in outline, I think the outline looks way more classy and I like them better. Plus, they’re way faster to make!
I placed the cupcakes on a cupcake display and stuck a pink Wilton card-holder pick with Bebe’s birthday greeting on the specially decorated top cupcake. I decorated the circular scalloped card with pink rhinestones and made sure everything was sparkling with pink sprinkles and dragees. With two girls, I now know how to kick up the girlie factor. The cupcakes earned some special longing gazes in the build-up time before the birthday song.
Now that I’ve done birthday cupcakes instead of the big honking cakes of yore, I’m liking it. None of the kids really eat any of the big cakes anyway…most of it usually ends up in the trash and they go off running to play after a few bites. At a kid’s birthday there has to be cake, I know, but having gone to dozens of kids’ birthday parties by now, I’ve noted how little cake is eaten by the kids. It’s all about the cake topper and the singing of the song and the blowing out of the candle. Another thing I like about cupcakes: no need for cutting! I also brought along Chinese takeout containers so the girls could take home any leftover cupcakes to their siblings or parents. Less mess, less hassle and way less work! I think I’m converting to birthday cupcakes from now on! I’ll be thinking of how to make edible birthday cupcake toppers and how to add more bling to cupcakes. I’ve decided to keep a sketch book for future cupcake designs, edible toppers and flavour combinations. What a revelation! It’s going to be fun!