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  • Mary Kay

Celebrate Migrating Monarchs with Butterfly Cupcakes!

May 4, 2024 is National Start Seeing Monarchs Day. What better way to honor Monarch Butterflies and their migration process than with colorful Butterfly Cupcakes for your friends and family.

Start out with your favorite flavored homemade cupcakes. Or, if you want to save time purchase some that are already baked and frosted. Then, melt colored chocolates to make these colorful and flying butterflies on top of your frosted cupcakes. It’s that easy!

The butterfly cupcakes featured here, I made for the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association as part of their Home & Garden Show in February 2023 to help welcome the new building season. They are a professional group of over 400 builders and associates who present their 3-day indoor Home & Garden Show in the middle of winter during the Wisconsin winter for over 4,000 visitors.

I made cupcakes from name brand cake mixes due to the quantity I baked, but I encourage you to use your own favorite homemade cake recipe. Just follow your own recipe or the one on the cake mix box. However, I made my own Buttercream Frosting so that I could control the piping qualities.

The butterflies were made by piping two or three different colors of candy melts onto parchment paper in the shape of butterfly wings. Then place a sheet of parchment on top of the template and pipe candy melts following the template underneath. Refrigerate to harden the wings and they easily peel off the parchment paper. Then, stick them in the top of the frosted cupcakes at an angle to mimic butterflies in flight. It’s easy!

This recipe makes 48 regular sized cupcakes to make Butterfly Cupcakes.

Preheat your oven to the temperature noted in the cake mix box or in your own recipe.

Prep your cupcake baking pans:

Choose some pretty paper cupcake papers and insert in the depressions in the cupcake baking pans.

Gather up your Ingredients for 48 Butterfly Cupcakes:

2 Cake mix boxes or your favorite flavor, 15-18 oz boxes

Follow the directions on the cake mix box for ingredients and mixing.

Follow the baking directions.

Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.

Gather your Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

1 C Butter, soft (or ½ C butter & ½ c white shortening)

2-3 t Vanilla extract

7 C Powdered sugar (1 pound bag)

2-4 T Milk (as needed) or heavy cream

Whip up your frosting:

- Buttercream frosting is one of the easiest to make and it’s so versatile. With just a few ingredients you can have a frosting that tastes so good on cake, cupcakes, brownies, and much more. Make it with your favorite flavors, fudgy buttercream, chocolate buttercream, lemon, almond, green mint, and many more. Plus, it’s easy to pipe into varying decorations.

- I usually use one of my electric mixers for this recipe, in order to give it a very good whip to make it light and fluffy for spreading on the cakes. If I want to make it a little stiffer frosting for piping, the electric mixer saves my arms from all that beating. I remember Gram used to use her non-electric hand-mixer to get it whipped up. As a kid, I would help her beat, and I can attest for the muscles you build when beating it with that hand crank contraption.

- With the electric mixer, beat the butter (and shortening option) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes or more.

- Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

- After you’ve added 3 cups, alternately add 1 tablespoon of the milk after a couple cups of powdered sugar as the frosting gets fluffier. You may not need all 4 tablespoons of the milk. Be sure to periodically scrape down the side of the bowl.

- When it gets to the spreading consistency or piping consistency that you desire, beat it a little more and get ready to use.

Flavor Options:

Decorate the top of the frosting with a corresponding seed or fruit to help identify the flavor, i.e., a cut of strawberry on top of the strawberry flavored cake, sliced almonds on top of the almond frosted cake, candied lemon slices on top of the lemon-flavored cheesecake, bacon chunks on top of a maple frosted donut, etc.

- Vanilla extract or vanilla seeds

- Maple extract or maple syrup

- Almond extract

- Lemon extract or lemon juice or zest

- Orange extract or orange juice or zest

- Coffee extract or finely ground coffee beans

- Strawberry extract

- Rum alcohol or extract

- Bourbon alcohol

- Hazelnut extract

You try what you think you’ll like. Get creative. The creative journey is more than half the fun. Test a ½ cup of frosting first with a couple of drops of the extract to see how it tastes.

Then try different colors to coordinate with the butterfly wings. I only use gel frosting colorings. They are truer to color and don’t use as much product. Sometimes non-gel colorings will give the frosting an “off” flavor, especially if you use a large amount to get a darker color. Keep in mind that frosting can turn darker in a few hours. Be sure to experiment with your colors and time lapses.

Make the Butterfly Wings:

- The butterflies are easy to make by melting candy melts and piping wings onto parchment paper. Working for consistent sizing, I first made two butterfly wing template sheets with magic markers to place under the parchment papers. Each template sheet had about 12-15 sets of butterfly wings. That way, I could pipe the candy melts on the parchment paper, tracing the template underneath. Then I could reuse the template sheets. (Plus, I would never pipe frosting directly onto magic marker drawings.) One template had large butterfly wings while the other template had smaller butterflies. So, cut a sheet of parchment paper the same size as the template sheet and pipe away!

- Before I begin piping, I set up a thin plastic table cloth to work on so that I have quick clean up when I’m done. All I have to do is wrap it up and toss the table cloth. It keeps the mess to a minimum.

- Also, set up a couple of wet paper towels to wipe your fingers on as you go.

- I used 3 different colors for these butterfly wings. Brown for the outline, red and yellow/orange for the inside piping.

Choose your 3 colors of candy melts and melt them in separate small bowls in the microwave according to the directions on the packages.

- If you introduce a fourth color you can run into the problem of the candy melts hardening before you are done piping so keep it simple.

- While the candy melts are warming up, set up your piping bags. I used a 1-quart sealable zipper bag for each color, pouring the warm candy melts into each before cutting a hole.

- Shift and squeeze the warmed candy melts toward one corner of the bag and cut a tiny hole. Don’t cut it too large or your piped butterfly wing lines will be too thick.

- Now you can start piping. Practice on a separate sheet of parchment paper until you get the feel for how fast the candy melts come out of the piping bag. There’s no waste since you can harden your practice sheet in the refrigerator, pop the frosting off the sheet and reheat it in the microwave.

- This is where you need to work fast so the candy melts don’t harden before you have spread the colors together. The piped lines don’t need to be perfect since you will be spreading colors together.

- The first piping you want to create is the brown outline of the butterfly wing. Working two sets of butterfly wings at a time, pipe the outside outline of 4 butterfly wings.

- Then pipe another color, like orange, following the inside of the brown line.

- Pipe another color, like yellow, following the inside of the orange line.

- If you have room for another color, go ahead and pipe, but work fast. Or, repeat one of the previous colors.

- Take a toothpick or a plastic pointed tool to spread the colors together to mimic the sections of real butterfly wings. - - Place the pointed tool on the brown line and drag it into through the other 2-3 colors. Repeat in 4 or 5 places on each of the upper and lower sections of each wing. The main thing is to make the wings colorful, not exactly like every single section of a real wing.

- If you find that the candy melts are hardening too fast, then just work with one set of butterfly wings at a time.

Reheat or melt more candy melts as you need them.

If you are boxing the cupcakes, get them frosted and put them in the box. Then stick the butterfly wings into the frosting at an angle. By adding the butterfly wings after you place the cupcakes in the box, you are less apt to dislodge the wings by overhandling. Also, you can have all the wings facing the same direction for a more aesthetically pleasing presentation.

Have fun with this project! Let the older kids join in, taking advantage of their creativity. Younger youth may not have the advanced hand dexterity, but you know your children and you know who would have fun.

Be creative with your colors and flavorings for the entire Butterfly Cupcake project. Have fun and “Bake your own Memories!”

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1 comentário

09 de mai. de 2023

I wasn't sure if your advertisement was for a bakery or a cooking group. The cupcakes are so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! My granddaughters birthday is coming up and I can't wait to try them!

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