10 Adorable Cupcake Ideas – And 1 More for Mom

I will be the first to admit that I am a sucker for cupcakes.  I can pass up many sweets but very rarely do I pass on a cupcake.  They are cute, compact, and can be decorated dozens of ways.

With the weather getting warmer, picnics and gatherings are starting to get planned.  Children, and parents are beginning to start the countdown to summer vacation, which means end-of-school parties.  Cupcakes are the perfect choice for these occasions (not to mention a great treat for Mother’s Day – read on!).

To show how versatile the cupcake is, I have started with a simple yellow cake recipe and easy cream cheese frosting.  (This can also be done, if you’re pressed for time, with a box yellow mix and a jar of frosting.)

Easy Yellow Cupcakes
Serves 12
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup plain low-fat yogurt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
1. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean (about 18-20 minutes). Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool before frosting.

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 12
1 8-ounce bar cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth.
2. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. If necessary, slightly chill the frosting to stiffen it before using.

Now that you have your cupcakes and frosting made, it’s time to have some fun.  Following are 11 easy and fun ways to decorate your cupcakes.

1. PB-and-Jam Session
Frost your cupcakes and top each one with 1 teaspoon of your favorite jam and 1 teaspoon of chopped roasted peanuts.

2. Take a Bow
Frost your cupcakes. Make  “bows” from strips of fruit gummy tape or fruit leather (use frosting as a glue if you need to) and place them on top of your cupcakes.

3. Lemony Lick-It
Cut a cavity in the top of each cupcake by cutting a cone-shaped piece. Fill your cupcakes with 1 teaspoon of lemon curd and replace the pieces.  Frost your cupcakes and top them with half of a lemon-slice candy.

4. Sticky Fingers
Frost your cupcakes and top each of them with colorful pieces of cotton candy.

5. Eat Your Heart Out
Frost your cupcakes. Cut hearts out of red (raspberry or strawberry) fruit leather with kitchen shears and top your cupcakes.

6. Whole Lotta Chocolate
Frost your cupcakes.  Evenly sprinkle each cupcake with 1 cup of chopped malted milk balls and ¾ cup chopped brownies.  (Good cupcake to make when your have that last corner brownie that nobody wants to eat.)

7. Sunflower Power
Frost your cupcakes and top each one with a round chocolate-covered candy (for the center) and use 7 pieces of candy corn for the petals. This is a great one for fall parties!

8. The Firecracker
Frost your cupcakes and top each one with a 1-inch piece of red licorice twist (for the firecracker stick), one 1-inch piece of black shoelace licorice (for the fuse), and a ½ teaspoon of Pop Rocks candy (for the sparks).

9. Would You Like S’more?
Frost your cupcakes. Evenly sprinkle 2 crumbled graham crackers, ¾ cup miniature marshmallows, and ¼ cup miniature chocolate chips over all of them.

10. All (Mouse) Ears
Frost your cupcakes.  Top each cupcake with 1 large halved marshmallow (cut-side up) sprinkled with pink decorating sugar (for the ears), 2 miniature chocolate chips (for the eyes), 1 peanut butter chip (for the nose), and 6 chocolate sprinkles (for the whiskers).

11. Lovely Posies for Mom
Make some elegant cupcakes for a Mother’s Day celebration. Frost your cupcakes. Top each one with a single edible flower (nasturtiums, pansies, violet) and a sprinkle of colored sugar. Place cupcakes on a platter and surround them with fresh spring flowers. Serve them to mom with a pot of hot tea.

These are some great ideas to spice up any flavor cupcake. I hope they encourage you to use your imagination and experiment with your own ideas. Happy cupcaking!