A lot of our cupcake-decorating techniques work well for baking at home without having to purchase special tools. Here are three of our favorite ways to brighten up any batch!
Sometimes, a classic buttercream isn’t unique enough. We mix our vanilla frosting with shredded coconut to create a distinctive, shaggy texture for our Coconut Haystack cupcakes, and we combine crushed Oreos with buttercream to top our Funky Chunky Oreo cupcakes. Shredded chocolate, chopped nuts, and chopped marshmallows would mix well into any frosting flavor, too. Of course, blended frostings are hard to spread or pipe in a pastry bag, so we like to just scoop them onto each cupcake to showcase the texture. This is a great technique to use when you want the mix of smooth frosting and crunch!
Rimming cupcakes with sprinkles
This is one of our favorite ways to give a cupcake some crunch and a pop of color. You can frost cupcakes flat with a spatula or kitchen knife or, if you do have the supplies, swirl with a pastry bag and a round tip. Once your cupcake is frosted, fill a bowl about one fourth of the way with your favorite sprinkles. Pick up a cupcake with your right hand if you’re a righty (or left if you’re left-handed). Then, holding both hands over the bowl, use a handful of sprinkles to coat the rim of the cupcake.
Don’t stop at sprinkles! We recommend rimming cupcakes with anything small enough to stick to the frosting. Graham cracker crumbs, crushed Heath bar, mini chocolate chips, and granulated sugar are all delicious.
To add texture and flavor, we often drizzle cupcakes with melted chocolate once they’re frosted. We recommend microwaving some chocolate—melting wafers are especially good—in a small bowl, stirring it every thirty seconds. If it’s too thick, add a small spoonful of a high-quality oil. Coconut oil and palm oil shortening (opt for trans-fat free) are both ideal, but butter doesn’t work because it can make the chocolate seize up. It contains water, which forms a syrup with the sugar in the chocolate and causes it to separate into grainy clumps.
As you drizzle the chocolate, don’t worry about making the streaks parallel or the same width. A little variation makes the cupcakes look unique and homemade—the most delicious kind!
It can also be fun to combine flavors and techniques to create a theme—we use a swirl of marshmallow frosting, a drizzle of milk chocolate, and some crumbled graham crackers around the rim to decorate S’mores cupcakes.
You don’t need a lot of equipment or experience to take cupcakes to the next level, especially with some creativity!