A birthday cake needn't be large and layered. Clever slicing and colored icing transform simple cupcakes into real delights. Gumdrop heads and licorice antennae may be the first things picked off and popped into happy mouths. Finally, something from the insect world you don't have to grab out of children's curious hands.
Prepare: 1 recipe One-Bowl Chocolate Cake in cupcake liners; and 1 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream or Simple Sugar Icing. Divide frosting into 5 small bowls, and tint each bowlful a different color with food coloring.
Bug Cupcakes How-To
1. Use a serrated knife to cut the domed tops evenly off of each cooled cupcake. Cut each top in half.
2. Use a small offset spatula to evenly spread 1 1/2 tablespoons colored frosting over each flat cupcake top. Then position halved cupcake tops on top of frosted cupcakes, pressing gently to adhere wings to soft frosting. To make bugs, attach tops with the domed side up and points meeting just inside edge of cupcake and extending off the opposite side. To create butterflies, attach pieces, cut side up, with rounded edges in center of cupcake (domed shape will create angled wings). Refrigerate until frosting is firm and wings are secure, about 30 minutes.
3. Prepare gumdrop and licorice heads: Snip licorice strings on a diagonal into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Use a toothpick to make 2 holes in the top of each gumdrop on opposite sides. Insert the pointed end of a licorice strip into each hole to create antennae. Using extra frosting as glue, attach gumdrop head to cupcake.
4. Decorate wings as desired with assorted colored frostings: Place frosting in pastry bags fitted with couplers and round tips, and pipe over surface of wings. Alternatively, gently spread frosting with a small offset spatula over the surface of the wings as desired. For lots of frosting, spread each wing with a base coat of frosting first and pipe out decorations in a different color. For just a touch of frosting, pipe simple decorations onto the bare black wings.