I've got a cupcake problem.

I don't even necessarily like cupcakes that much.  I rarely eat any that I bake.  But I love decorating and baking cupcakes.  

Alessandro's brother, Antonio, and his boo, Keely, bought me the cupcake book, "Hello Cupcake," for my birthday a couple of years ago.  I tried my hand first at making these two Halloween themed cupcakes back in 2010.

The bugs are made by melting chocolate candy wafers, tracing a bug outline under a piece of wax paper, and then layering them with M&M's.  They were pretty easy...and I got to thinking that I would try something more complicated, hence the werewolves.  

I didn't fail as badly as I thought I would...but they definitely don't look half as professional as what Hello Cupcake said they should look like. But after Googling some of the general population's epic fails with these, I'm thinking my final product actually looks pretty good.

The werewolf mouth is made from a cut marshmallow and covered with a piece of fruit by the foot cut to resemble a tongue/mouth.  The ears are also cut pieces of marshmallow and the whole cupcake is frosted using a Ziploc baggie as a piping bag, taping the tip of the bag with scotch tape and then cutting a "V" shape in the tip to create ridges of texture for the fur.  The eyes and nose are M&M's.  

Next, I made pumpkin cupcakes for Thanksgiving 2010, also from Hello Cupcake.

They're not that cool...but the best part is that they were pumpkin flavored, which I love.  CJ too.

Next, I tried cupcakes for Tiger's Opening Day.  After learning that you could trace just about anything with a proper template under a piece of wax paper, I tried my hand at some unique designs.  I'm still pretty embarrassed that I couldn't think of anything more clever/grown-up than "Inge Sucks," but it's true and maybe I'll think of something this year...

Next up were cupcakes for Maya's 2nd Birthday.  Maybe by this time I was worn out because I went with something very very simple...just covered in sprinkles to match her Beauty and the Beast theme. 

But that little sweetheart loved them if you can tell. 

A few months later, I baked cupcakes for Ava's 5th Birthday.  She was having a beach-themed party, and the shark cupcakes in the "Hello Cupcake" book looked slightly more ambitious than something I was ready to take on...

UPDATE:  My Aunt thought that I made these shark ones above, and has been telling people that.  But I did not make the sharks!   I made all of the cupcakes shown except for the sharks, which by the way are made out of Twinkies : ) 

So instead, I found these cupcakes online and made a version of these little beach buddies. 

The "sand" is food processed graham crackers, and the bears in the back on the sand cupcakes are lying on a towel made of fruit-by-the-foot.  The life preservers are gummy life savers and the beach balls are gumballs.  The bikinis and bear eyes are drawn on with an edible marker.

Since they were so kid focused, I wanted there to be something special for the adults.  So I made Martha Stewart's Buttercream frosting and dyed it blue with a few drops of food coloring.  This frosting was the best frosting I've ever had.  It was so so buttery and...Alessandro hates this word but I have to use it...decadent.Ava's Grandma Annie said that her family had been searching for a good buttercream frosting recipe for a while and this was one of her favorites.

If you plan on making this recipe, I would suggest cutting it in half or even in thirds.  I liberally covered 14 cupcakes, had a spoonful or two : ) and still had a large tupperware container left of delicious surplus frosting that eventually went to waste.

Recently, I was ready to take on something more challenging and made Hello Cupcake's baby cupcakes for my cousin and his girlfriend's baby shower.

Since I had to transport them a couple of miles to the baby shower, I decided only to make 6 babies and to decorate the rest in something less likely to topple over during the car ride.

I'm happy to report that the babies all survived the car ride and looked super cute for the shower!  A quick rundown on these bad boys:  The heads are mini cupcakes, which I poked a toothpick through to secure to the body.  (Hello Cupcake did not recommend this step, but since they were going for a drive, I thought it would be safer).  The frosting is vanilla tinted pink with some red food coloring.  The bonnet is made of mini marshmallows cut in half.  The bib is cut from a candy Airhead and decorated with edible shapes secured by frosting.  The eyes and belly button are piped chocolate frosting.  And the blue safety pin (yeah, that's what it is) is made from candy melts and topped with a cut mini pastel marshmallow.  

I went into making these baby cupcakes fully prepared to give up right away, but I stuck with it, and they actually were not that difficult.  They don't look perfect, but I was happy with them.

The next day, I prepared cupcakes for Victoria's 3rd Birthday party.  I used the same flowers I used as fillers for the baby shower cupcakes, but decorated them in softer colored sprinkles.  To make these flowers, I first enlisted Alessandro's help.  He cut the mini marshmallows in half on the diagonal and dropped them in bowls of decorating sugar.  Meanwhile, I melted candy melts and made a nickel-sized dollop on wax paper; then I stuck the sugar covered marshmallows on the melted chocolate circle and topped with a mini M&M in the center.

Watch this video where the Hello Cupcake people make it look a lot more simple (and much more neat) than it actually was.  They topped each cupcake with 5 flowers!  Which means you would have to make 120 flowers for a batch of 24 cupcakes!  I actually thought this was possible, but it would have taken probably 4 hours.  Instead, as you see, I had to settle for 1 - 2 flowers per cupcake and that took Al and I one hour.

Alessandro was such a great helper.  But I later found out he cursed Antonio and Keely for buying me that cupcake book : ) 

That's all folks.  I wanted to share my cupcake making history with you, so I hope you enjoyed.

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