The incomparable Eddie Murphy voicing Donkey in the Dreamworks animated movie “Shrek” says, “Ain’t nobody don’t like no parfait.” I’m not sure about parfait, but I know for sure ain’t nobody don’t like no cupcakes! So when a new family with young children moved in across the street, I decided to make them some Pups On Cups as a welcome to the neighborhood gift.
Over the years, I’ve made a lot of different cakes, from elaborate tiered confections to simple sheet cakes (see my gallery of cake pics) but decorating cupcakes has always been one of my favorite projects. These Puppy Cupcakes are super cute and easy to make. Because I had limited time, I bought a box of Duncan Hines yellow cake mix (don’t tell Martha Stewart), two cans of classic vanilla, and one can of chocolate icing. Once I whipped up the cupcakes and let them cool, I quickly frosted them with the vanilla icing.
I then put the chocolate, vanilla, and red-food-coloring tinted vanilla into three disposable piping bags (because who wants to wash piping bags?)
I use couplers in my bags so that I can easily switch piping tips. You only need two different size round tips to make these precious pups. Icing consistency should be somewhat firm but soft enough to be squeezed out of the bag smoothly. If your icing is too loose, pop the bags in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Using the larger round #12 tip, I piped two large dots of vanilla icing right beside each other about two-thirds down the top of the cupcake to make the jowls. You will notice that when you pipe a dot, it may have a peak. If you stop squeezing the bag before you pull away, this shouldn’t happen. However, if it does, you can gently tamp it down with a finger dusted with cornstarch.
Using the same tip, make a U-shaped ribbon of icing underneath the jowls to create the chin.
Next, remove the large round tip from the vanilla piping bag. Wash it and put it onto the chocolate bag. Make dots for the eyes and nose–piping the nose right up against the top of the jowls. Then pipe ribbons of icing on either side of the face to make the ears. Flatten all of these icing features with a cornstarch-covered finger. After a few minutes, when the icing crusts over a bit, you can use a clean, soft paintbrush to sweep away the cornstarch.
Switch to the smaller #3 or #4 tip to outline the bottom of the jowls and pipe five dots on each cheek with the chocolate icing.
The final step is to pipe a large #12 round dot of red icing on the chin to make a tongue for your puppy. Again flatten with your cornstarchy finger.
This is a great project for cake decorating novices because you only have to make dots and lines. And because they are so cute, even if your piping is not perfect, the end result is very satisfying. If you haven’t piped before, you may want to practice your dots and ribbons on a piece of parchment paper first just to get a sense of how to apply the appropriate pressure to the piping bag to achieve the desired design. It may seem like a lot of work, but when you see the kids’ reaction to a whole tray of these adorable puppy cuppies, it makes it all worthwhile. Ain’t nobody don’t like no Puppy Cupcakes!
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