Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cupcake Accessorize for a Good Cause

What better way to help a good cause than doing it in the name of Cupcakes!! From now until April 26th, Maki Taniguchi, an art student on Etsy, will donate 100% of her sales to relief efforts in Japan.

When I came across Maki's shop on Etsy, I totally fell in love with the intricacies of the cupcake designs and the ability for customization. With nearly 95% of materials coming from Japan, Maki wanted to give back to organizations in Japan such as International Save the Children Alliance, GlobalGiving, and Global Animal non-profits.

"I think donating my proceeds to people in need is the least I can do... for the country that my parents come from."

What I love about Maki's shop is that you can pick everything from toppings to muffin cup colors! Maki took a moment to share the process of whipping up her creations -

"I use resin clay, paper clay, and silicone from Japan that is specifically formulated for decorating purposes. I order whatever molds and hardware from a supplier who buys everything from Japan. Molds are utilized to achieve consistency in quality and look of the product as far as little things like the cupcake bottoms and mini donuts go. But all the whipped toppings, ice cream swirls, ice creams scoops and whatnot are piped and hand-sculpted by me, much like a real baker.... Custom orders are my favorite. People come up with whatever flavor and topping combo they wish and i do it. It keeps me on my toes!"

I'm hungry just reading about this, and little did I know that this style of decoration is quite popular in Japan. Now, that's something I could get on board with! I would bejewel everything with cupcake insignia!

"There is a huge subculture comprised of women, young and old, who make their own decorations. They decorate anything from their nails to compacts and picture frames. But the most popular item to decorate and personalize is the cell phone. this phenomenon is called "decoden" which is short for "decorated denwa" or decorated phone in Japanese. Swarovski crystals, fake flowers, silk bows, mini teddy bears and, of course, mini fake desserts are among the most popular types of decoration. So what I do is merely a spin-off of what's been popular overseas."

Like what you see above? Each image is linked to Maki's shop, which can also be found by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cupcake FAIL: A Cupcake Only A Mother Could Love

The urge stuck me, one sleepy Saturday afternoon. I was trolling the Internet for some Spring cupcakespiration to blog about when I spotted them. So innocent, so unassuming. Little did I know they would soon become my nemeses.

They were a baby chick, a baby sheep, and a kitten to be exact. Sound harmless to you? Yeah, just wait.

*Note: images depicted to the right and left were the
cupcakespiration - NOT what I created.

You see, I'm charged with the most sacred sister-in-law baby shower duty of providing enough sugar to propel the baby games into action! More importantly, I had to practice my craft so that come the day of the event, I'll know I have a winner.

Thank the good Martha Stewart that I did a trial run! Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you today, an original Cupcakin It Up FAIL. Prepare yourself for a serious barn-raising stinker that would make even the hungriest Wilbur strangle himself in Charlotte's Web.

It all started very promising...

Ironically, the above icing was the best I've ever made! Such a shame... my secret?
No milk, all butter!! I used:

About 1/2+ a box of confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
1.5 sticks of butter

Then I iced the entire cupcake (yellow-dyed icing for the chickies and white icing for the sheep).

I dyed the coconut yellow for the chicken feathers and borrowed a chocolate almond from my snacks and a couple of chocolate chips from my baking cupboard.

Still thinking this looks promising? Yeah, me too... and yet...

This little turd hatched before my eyes - he sorta looks like Chicken Little but on crack.

Ok, so at this point, I'm feeling just a little disheartened. It doesn't look anything like the picture. In fact, if anything, this belongs on an episode of the Twilight Zone.

But I forge on and prepare the baby sheep...

I pulled out a handful of marshmallows, chocolate chips, and even some red icing for accents. "This is going to be adorable and delicious," I think to myself. It will totally make up for the swamp thing that is likely hailing its mothership as I ice.

Or will it?!...

Wrong again! And I thought the last one was extraterrestrial - run Little Bow Peep, RUN!! Bring the garlic and the crucifix! This is not a drill!

Note how I valiantly try to make the eyes less creepy by giving it pupils. FAIL.

Ok, so maybe you're thinking to yourself, "Cheryl, this one isn't SO bad," - well, hi mom, thanks for still loving me!! To the rest of you, I apologize that you had to witness this cupcaketastrify!

And still I march on... I don't even bother to photograph the creepy cat I wind up making. It will undoubtedly appear in some kind of cautionary tale about what lives under your bed. But check out the whole demented family here:

And that, kids, is how you turn cute and cuddly farm animals scary, creepy creatures ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Get your PINK on - it's Spring time!

What's not to love about Spring? The sun is out, the weather is warm(ish), and pink is back in fashion on baked goods! When dessert extraordinaire, Christyn of Bead Up! posted her most recent pink creations on Facebook, I knew it was time to bust out the Spring features on Cupcakin It Up!

Christyn is great at making the best out of the materials at hand - something that Cupcakin It Up most certainly values in every creation! Christyn enrolled in a cake decorating class at Michael's Arts & Crafts to learn these mad skillz. Across the country, I've only heard good things about these cake and fondant classes.

"I made the bow at my first cake decorating class, all the instructions are here... I had some pink fondant left from making the daisies, so I decided to polka-dot the thing up. The bottom of my fondant was all wickety-wack, so I covered it up with a thick pink stripe," Christyn said. Now that's resourceful!

"As for the pink cake... I made it super chocolate-y with a box of Jello Devil's Food Cake Instant Pudding Mix (any kind of pudding mix adds TONS of moisture - now you know my secret)! I torted the cake with some blackberry jam I had in my fridge, and I decided to make the icing match!"

Well done, Christyn! I would say this is a pink-tastic Spring success!!