Mermaid Tail Cupcakes

Building on the mermaid cake trend, I wanted to make some mermaid cupcakes! They’re the first cupcake of a cupcakes series I’m starting on YouTube, and I wanted to kick things off with something colorful! I used my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, which is a slightly modified version of Life Love and Sugar’s Vanilla Cupcake Recipe.

I swapped out the regular milk and used buttermilk (my personal preference!), and made it all in one bowl! I hate making extra dishes, and always try to simplify recipes when baking.

I always frost my cupcakes with a half batch of my American buttercream, and usually use a Wilton 1m tip (open star).

Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cup (162g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (212g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water

Vanilla American Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Additional Items:

  • white fondant
  • tylose powder (optional; accelerates the drying of the fondant)
  • rolling pin
  • pastry cutter
  • purple, sky blue, and green food coloring
  • mermaid colored sprinkles (I used these from Neon Yolk Shop!)

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 17 minutes

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and place cupcake liners in baking pans.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and gently mix. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir until just combined. Next, add in the water, vanilla, and  vegetable oil, and mix until the batter comes together. Mix in the egg until well combined.

Divide the batter evenly between 3 bowls, and color one a light purple, one a light blue, and one green. Alternate spooning the different colored batters into the cupcake liners, to created a layered look.

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Fill the cupcake liners about 1/2 way full, and bake for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

While the cupcakes bake and cool, make the mermaid tails. Color 1/2 cup white fondant light purple, 1/2 cup light blue, and 1/2 cup light green using gel food coloring. Knead the color into the fondant, twisting and pulling until the color is evenly spread throughout the fondant. Add 1/2 tsp of tylose powder to each color, to accelerate the firming process. If the fondant gets sticky, let is rest for a few minutes, then resume kneading. Combine the three colors into one long log, and twist the colors together. Roll this out, the fold one more time repeat to blend the colors together.

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Cut out a 2 inch mermaid tail from cardboard, and use this a template to cut out 12 mermaid tails. Use the wide end of a round frosting tip to make a webbed patter at the end of the tail. Flip the frosting tip over, and use the smaller opening to make the scales on the tail. Use a fondant tool of knife to score the tail. Place on parchment paper and set aside for at least 2 hours to harden.

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Next, prepare the vanilla frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the heavy cream half way through. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Divide the frosting between 2 bowls, and color one light purple, and the other light blue using a drip of gel food coloring. Place the light purple into a frosting bag with a round opening ( I just cut my piping bag to have a 2 cm opening). Place the light blue frosting a separate bag with an open star tip (Wilton 1M).

Once  the cupcakes are fully cooled, add a swirl of purple buttercream. Pour mermaid sprinkles into a small bowl, and dunk the cupcake into the sprinkles to cover the frosting entirely.

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Pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake, and then gently insert the fondant mermaid tail into the center of the swirl.

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Margarita Trifle

This month for Cosmopolitan I made a Margarita Trifle!! To make this trifle even more festive, I assembled the trifle in a giant cocktail glass. I used my favorite vanilla cake layer recipe, a triple sec and tequila simple syrup, and a lime buttercream. The full video can be seen here. I will also have the full tutorial up on my Youtube channel soon! The recipes used can be found below:

Lime Cake Layers:

  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 7 large egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp lime extract
  • lime green gel food coloring (I used Americolor Gel Food Coloring in the Electric green shade)

Lime American Buttercream Ingredients:

  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of 1/2 a lime

Tequila Triple Sec Simple Syrup

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp tequila
  • 2 Tbsp Triple Sec

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 8” round pans.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium high for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling.

While the cake layers bake and cool, prepare the simple syrup. Place the sugar and water in a heat proof pan, and heat on a medium high heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to allow the mixture to simmer until all the sugar is dissolved (2-3 minutes). Add in the tequila and triple sec, and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool.

Next, make the lime buttercream. Beat the butter on high for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the lime zest, lime juice, and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

To assemble to cake, begin by adding a sugar rim to your container. Run a lime slice around the perimeter of the container, then dip into sugar.

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Crumb the cake layers into a bowl using a fork.

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Place some cake bits at the base of the container, and gently press down into a flat layer using your palms.

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Drizzle the simple syrup over the cake pieces. Pipe on an even layer of buttercream, and repeat until container is full.

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Top with green sprinkles, a straw and a lime! Then it’s time to dive in. Happy hour just got a whole lot sweeter 😛 It could also be fun to make miniature version of these in individual sized containers for a party!

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Galaxy Ganache Cake

I was tasked to make another galaxy themed cake, but had already made a galaxy mirror glaze cake! After a bit of thought, I decided to make some galaxy colored cake layers, cover the cake in a gothic black ganache. I also added some of my favorite sprinkles from Neon Yolk Shop and Fancy Sprinkles. The recipes used can be found below:

My Favorite Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

Chocolate Ganache Filling

I made four, seven inch cake layers, which I colored two shades of blue, and two shades of purple.

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I then covered the cake with room temperature dark chocolate ganache, which I colored black with gel food coloring.  I’ve found that dark chocolate ganache is MUCH easier to color a true black than frosting. You can use the same techniques to smooth ganache that are used to smooth buttercream!

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I added a sprinkles around the base, and piped on some ganache drops using a piping bag.

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And that’s it! No fancy tips, no additional components, just a lot of ganache, and some colorful cake layers 🙂

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Dark Chocolate Ganache Cake Filling

I’ve worked a lot with chocolate ganache, but mainly for drip cakes! When I decided I wanted to cover a cake in ganache, I knew the ratios of heavy cream to chocolate would have to change. It’s important that you weigh out your ingredients when making ganache, as different chocolates come in a variety of shapes and using volume isn’t a consistent form of measurement. For example, if a cup of miniature chocolate chips weighs more than a cup of chocolate chunks, as there is actually more chocolate in the cup of miniature chocolate chips.

The ratio for making dark chocolate ganache to fill and/or cover a cake is 2:1. The amount of chocolate you use should weigh twice as much the amount of cream you use. If I was using 100g of heavy cream, I would use 200g of dark chocolate. Keep in mind that if you make milk chocolate ganache, the ratio is 3:1!!

I simply place both the chocolate and heavy cream in a heat proof bowl, and heat it for 30 second increments (stirring between). Usually after about 2 minutes of heat, all the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, I place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit overnight. Before adding the room temperature ganache to a cake, I give it a slow stir with a spatula.

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For this cake, I added a touch of black gel food coloring to make a gothic ganache!! I’ve found that dark chocolate ganache is MUCH easier to color a true black than frosting.

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You can use the same techniques to smooth ganache that are used to smooth buttercream! You can also pipe with ganache!!

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If you are unsure of the amount of ganache you need to cover a cake, here is an amazing chart that will help.

Ganache is a great alternative to frosting, and is a fun way to mix things up. Since some people find American buttercream too sweet, it’s also a great option for those who prefer a richer dessert over a sweet one! Below is a chocolate overload cake I made with both a ganache filling, and ganache drips.

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Giant Ice Cream Cone Cake

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This month, Cosmopolitan asked me to make a giant ice cream cone cake. I could not have been more excited, especially since ice cream is actually my favorite dessert!! This cake ended up being quite a bit larger than planned, but you could easily half the recipe and make a smaller version of this cake. Another fun idea would be to hollow out the center of the cake, and fill it with softened ice cream. I used my favorite vanilla layer cake (bakes perfectly flat, no need to level the layers!), and a strawberry and chocolate peanut butter buttercream to decorate. I also topped the cake with some chocolate ganache, and sprinkles. The recipes I used can be found below:

Vanilla Cake layers:

  • 4 3/4 cups flour
  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup egg whites (about 11 large egg whites – I use carton egg whites to avoid wasting yolks)
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • pink gel food coloring

Frosting Recipe:

  • 8 sticks (4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree reduction
  • pink gel food coloring

Additional Decorations:

  • chocolate ganache
  • sprinkles
  • a cherry

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line three 8” round pans, and one 7″ round pan. Also grease and line one 8″ dome pan.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium high for about 30 seconds.

Place 1/3 of batter into a separate bowl, and color a light shade of pink with gel food coloring. Pour pink batter into dome shaped pan. Divide remaining, uncolored batter evenly between the prepared round cake pans. Bake round pans for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Bake the domed pan for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling.

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the buttercream.

Beat the butter on high for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Place 1/3 of the frosting into a separate bowl. Mix in the strawberry puree, and a drop of pink gel food coloring. Set aside. Mix peanut butter and cocoa powder into remaining frosting, to create a light brown shade of frosting.

NOTE: When making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

To assemble the cake, stack and frost the round cake layers with the chocolate peanut butter buttercream. Placing the 7 inch cake layer on top. Using a serrated knife, trim at angle from the top of the cake down to the base, to taper the sides.x

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Once trimmed, apply a thin crumb coat and chill the cake for the fridge or freezer until firm. Apply a second layer of the chocolate peanut butter frosting, and smooth with a bench scraper. Clean bench scraper, and warm blade with dipping it in extremely warm water. Use the warmed edge to score the frosting with diagonal lines, 1 cm apart, in the pattern of a cone.

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Chill cake in fridge until firm, then flip the cake over using an additional cake round. Cover and smooth the new top of the cake with buttercream.

Trim the browned edges from the pink cake dome, then apply a crumb coat with the strawberry buttercream.

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Chill, then apply a second, thicker layer of frosting. Smooth with a piece of acetate sheet or a flexible bowl scraper. Chill again, until frosting is firm. Once the frosting is fully chilled, spread some chocolate ganache on top of the dome, add sprinkles, and top with a cherry.

Once both cake layers are chilled, gently place the pink dome on top of the cone.

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Place additional pink frosting into a piping bag, and pipe a boarder around the the based on the pink dome.

MVI_8445_Moment(3) And that’s it! This cake is very large, and can feed 25-30 people. It would be perfect for a summertime party, or a large birthday party 🙂

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