Monday, January 16, 2012

Easy Hawaiian or Beach-Themed Cupcakes

One of the cake-y things I do is that I teach cake, cupcake, cookie decorating at birthday parties and workshops around the Twin Cities. A mom recently contacted me to do a "Hawaiian-themed" cupcake party with fondant for her daughter. The project needed to be simple enough for 12-year-olds to do.

These are what I came up with. Nothing is too hard or requires many hard-to-find supplies to create.

What You Need (for the decorations):
1 box Wilton Neon Fondant
1 package Wilton Gum Paste (optional)
Large Round Cutter
Small Round Cutter (or any icing tip)
Large & Small Rose or Blossom Cutter
Shortening (for greasing surface)
Parchment or Waxed Paper, or Roll & Cut Mat
Tapered Spatula or small knife
Food-Safe Paintbrush
Rolling Pin

Mixing the fondant with the gum paste is optional. The reason I chose to do it is that it will help the decorations dry harder so that they will keep their shape (i.e. the surfboards won't bend).
I blended the fondant and gum paste so that it was half-fondant and half-gum paste. To do about 2 dozen cupcakes, you will only need about half of each of the colored fondant packages.

To Make the Fondant Flip Flops:

Roll your fondant to the thickness of about 1/8", that's a little thicker than a nickel. Cut out a small circle for each flip flop. You could use the wide end of a decorating tip to do this, or the smallest round cutter in Wilton's round fondant cutter set.

Using your rolling pin, elongate them into ovals.

To give the flip flops a little shape, I pinch them a little in the middle, then run my finger over the top of them to smooth them out.

To make the strap, roll a tiny bit (like pea-sized or smaller) of the fondant into a very thin rope.

Using about 3/4 of an inch of the rope, shape it into a "V" and brush it with clear vanilla to position it on the flip flop. Let these dry overnight if you want them to stand up in the icing.

To Make the Fondant Hibiscus Flowers:
These are very simple Hibiscus flowers. They're not going to win any "realistic-looking" awards, but again, these are designed to be easy to do without a ton of supplies. And I think they're cute, which is just as important as beautiful anyway.

Using the 5-petal blossom cutter (I used my rose cutter set), cut out one blossom for each flower. Cut a hole in the center to insert the stamen. (I used the small end of a tip #5, but anything to cut a small hole will work.)

Use a spatula to cut the petals down so that they look a little more individual. Be sure you don't cut too far, though, or the blossom could fall apart when you move it.

Allow the flowers to dry on a paper towel-lined egg carton. This will give them shape. Again, you'll want to let these dry at least 24 hours to let them keep their shape when applied to the cupcake.

To make the stamens, roll a very small amount of fondant (smaller than pea-sized) between your fingers. You want to make it so that it is thinner at the bottom (thin enough to fit through the hole in the blossom), and fatter at the top.
Let this dry for a few hours. It will need to be hard so that when you put it in the flower it doesn't fall over.
(Apparently, I neglected to take a photo of that step. Sorry.)
When the stamen has hardened, brush the fat end with clear vanilla using a food-safe paintbrush.

Dip the fat end into white (or colored) nonpareils. I then allowed these to dry for a little while before assembling the flowers.
Now, I did have a hard time getting the sprinkles to stay on when I went to place the stamens into the flowers. A few ideas I had to make that work better:
if I'd dipped them before they dried, and was able to kind of press the sprinkles into the fondant?
if I used tweezers to hold the stamen below the sprinkles to get them into the flower?
if I found a small enough container to "dip" the stamens while already in the flower?
(If you try any of these and find that it works better, please let me know!!)

To assemble the flower, press the blossom gently on to the icing. Insert the smaller end of the stamen into the hole.

If you wanted to make them fancier, you could brush some color dust on the insides of the petals. You could also make the petals thinner (roll it thinner) and use a "veining mat" to add some veins to the petals.

To Make the Fondant Surf Boards:
Using a large round cutter, cut two boards out of each circle.

Remove the extra fondant from around the board shapes. Using your rolling pin, elongate the shape by rolling it lengthwise.

The shape on the left is not elongated, the shape on the right is.

To make the line down the center, I was very unscientific. I just used my spatula to cut a long strip like this.

Brush the back of the strip with a little clear vanilla extract, using a food-safe paintbrush. And line it up down the middle of the board. Use your spatula to cut the ends of the strip to match the edges of the board.

These surfboards will need to dry at least 24 hours before you add them to the cupcakes. If you don't let them dry well, they will flop over and get really soft on top of the cupcakes.

To Make the Fondant Leis:

I rounded out the decorations using blossoms cut out with the smallest rose cutter. To make a lei, I arranged 10-12 of them in an oval shape on top of the icing. If you want, you could add a tiny center to the flowers by cutting out a dot of fondant with tip #5 or by using a Food Writer Marker

There you have it. Simple Hawaiian Cupcakes. The "sand" is simply brown sugar that I sprinkled on the table and on the cupcakes.
Wednesday I will share a recipe for some cupcakes and icing that compliment the tropical theme perfectly. Coconut-flavored cupcakes with Pineapple Buttercream icing.

Click the Links to See:
Fondant 101 - the "rules," tips and tricks for working with fondant
Beach Ball Cupcakes
Other Cupcake Ideas

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  1. I really liked these decorations! And I ended up using this and the cupcake recipe for a birthday party. The only thing I changed was dipping the fondant stems in the clear vanilla and pearl sprinkles before it dried. It turned out perfectly!

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I love to hear this!!
      - Beki

  2. This was a lifesaver! I had a luau themed birthday party and needed to make cupcakes. I added teddy grahams that i decorated in bikinis, some marzipan star fish and some gummy sharks. The surfboards flip flops and lei fondant were fantastic and super easy!

  3. Ive just spent the afternoon making them!
    I'll put them together - fingers crossed they look as great as yours!

  4. What a wonderful idea this is! I came across this while I watching videos, and I decided to try this at home. Guess what, It turned out to be accurately perfect. I am loving this a lot. Keep sharing such creative and new ideas.


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