In the jungle, the mighty jungle…

Welcome to part 3 of baby shower baking, in which I tell you about making the jungle animal cupcakes, and then we can safely move on to bigger and better things, like the MN State Fair, returning to work, Friday Fundays 3,4, 5, and attending lame Twins games. 

First off, I made two different types of cupcakes.  The main show: the jungle animals, were oreo cupcakes – one of my favorite semi-homemade cupcake recipes.  Here is a link to the recipe from Beantown Baker.  And I’ll fully admit I used store bought frosting.  Sometimes you just have to admit that if there isn’t enough time in the day, and people will enjoy them regardless.

The flamingo cupcakes were strawberry cupcakes, a’la Annie’s Eats.  The frosting was to die for.  I was a bit scared about it, because the last strawberry frosting I made was a bit runny, and the directions seemed a bit intense for this strawberry meringue frosting.  However, having made it, I will say that it tastes like strawberry ice cream, and is among the top five decisions I made in 2011.  Yum!  I used the cupcake recipe posted here and the frosting recipe posted here.

Alright, on to the business of decorating.

I got my inspiration from two sources.  You can find more detail directions on the water animals in this book: What’s New, Cupcake.  The land animals were inspired by Betty, and you can find the deets here.

To decorate the lion cupcake: 

  • I used two shapes of orange frosting
  • The mane is caramel corn
  • The eyes and nose are mini chocolate chips
  • The mouth is piped on from a ziplock bag with the corner clipped
  • The whiskers are pretzels, broken into thirds
To decorate the monkey cupcake:

  • He is frosted with chocolate frosting
  • The mouth area color I created by mixing a little chocolate and a little vanilla frosting together
  • The ears are Junior Mints
  • The mouth is frosting piped on
  • The eyes are a dollop of white frosting piped on with a mini chocolate chip on top
To decorate the zebra cupcake:

  • First let’s say a word about making black frosting.  I did some googling, and the option I went with was starting with chocolate frosting and then adding blue and purple food coloring.  This worked pretty well!
  • Slice along the top of the cupcake liner to create a slit in which you can insert a Nilla Wafer.  Put a little frosting in the hole and/or on the wafer before sliding it in to help it stay put.
  • Frosting the cupcake with white frosting
  • Frost the wafer with black frosting
  • His ears are a black jelly bean cut in half
  • His eyes and nostrils are mini chocolate chips
  • His stripes are black frosting piped on
To decorate the tiger cupcake:

  • Like the lion he is frosted with two shades of orange frosting.  Ooh, here is a note about the orange frosting: I used a lot of red and yellow food coloring to achieve the color orange.  This meant a lot of mixing.  This meant that by the time I was ready to frost the cupcakes, the frosting was a drippy mess.  I put it in the fridge for a bit to firm it up and worked on some other cupcakes in the meantime.  Alright, let’s carry on…
  • His ears are Dots candy
  • His eyes and nose are mini chocolate chips
  • His stripes are triangle shaped and made of black frosting piped on
  • His mouth is also piped on
To decorate the alligator/crocodile cupcake:

  • Note: I made the head in the morning, went canoeing, came back and baked the cupcakes, frosted them, and plopped his head on the top.
  • To make the head shape, I cut off the sides of a Nutter Butter cookie/cracker/sandwich thing to create a triangular face for him.
  • To make him green, there were a couple steps.  1) Put some sugar and green food color in a ziplock.  Shake.  Put the now green sugar in a bowl.  2)  Frost the Nutter Butter, dip in sugar bowl to coat.
  • His nostrils are mini chocolate chips
  • His eyes are green Fruit Loops
  • The book showed teeth piped on with white frosting, but I couldn’t be bothered.
  • I frosted the cupcakes with blue frosting, then rolled the edge of the cupcake in blue sugar (created the same was as the green sugar)
  • Then I threw his head on top and threw the cupcake in the fridge so all the parts could become best friends and it wouldn’t melt apart.
Decorating the hippo cupcake:

  • This hungry, hungry, hippo was the easiest to make.  So if you are just making one animal, he might be a great option.  Adorable, yet simple!
  • Henry’s head (I just decided that is probably his name) is a Nutter Butter.
  • Use a dab of frosting to attach orange fruit loops for the nose and ears, and mini chocolate chip eyes.
  • I put it in the fridge at this point to help everything become one, and I left to canoe.
  • When I can back, I made the cupcakes, frosted them blue, rolled the edges in blue sugar, and set the hippo on top!  Done!
And, the flamingos: 

  • I started with the heads, and used a bit of pink melting chocolate to connect a pink jelly bean with half a Runts banana.  The picture showed eyes and a tiny black dot on the beak, but I was reaching the end of my decorating patience.
  • To create the wings I piped some pink melting chocolate onto wax paper in the shape of wings.
  • The neck is a pretzel dipped in pink melting chocolate and then I carefully attached the head, laid it all on wax paper and put it in the fridge.
  • After frosting the cupcakes, I stuck in all the pieces, and voila!

* With the strawberry cupcakes, I made 2 dozen flamingos and 1 dozen normal cupcakes, which I just shared with friends and family.  They did not come with the shower, but rumor has it, they are a delicious recipe worth repeating.

Oh, and I made the cupcake stand, following Annie’s directions posted here.  A couple of notes:
  1. You can buy the pre-cut circles at Michael’s in the cake decorating area.
  2. I used tacky glue instead of a hot glue gun (because that is what I had available).  It worked!
  3. If you start at night, then finish the next day, put the lid on your glue.  Otherwise in the morning you will stumble out of bed, go back to crafting, pick up the glue and think, “Jeepers, will the glue even still come out?”  You will then look straight down into it, squeeze as hard as you can, the spurts of glue will shoot out and attack your hair.  I mean… hypothetically speaking and all that…

And, I should say that the consensus after the shower was that I should open a bakery.  While I do not have plans to do that (I still am a fan of that teaching gig), if you need cupcakes (not necessarily of the animal variety) for an event/party, let’s talk!  Email me at merrydaysblog@gmail.com.

You are a trooper if you read all of this.  Congrats.  Gold star for you.