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Vanilla-Buttercream Frosting and Poppies

Making frosting poppies is easier than you'd think. Use our step-by-step photos as reference as you pipe the blooms with a petal tip onto a flower nail ( Use these buttercream poppies to decorate Orange-Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Buttercream Poppies.

  • prep: 50 mins
    total time: 2 hours 50 mins
  • yield: Makes 5 cups frosting
Photography: Ditte Isager




  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 large egg whites or pasteurized egg whites
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Gel-paste food coloring in Red Red (
  • Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Cook's Note

Buttercream can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using, and beat on low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Buttercream poppies can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.


  1. Step 1

    Heat sugar and egg whites in the heatproof bowl of a mixer set over a pan of simmering water, whisking constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.

  2. Step 2

    Whisk with mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes. Whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 2 minutes more.

  3. Step 3

    Reduce speed to medium-low, and add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

  4. Step 4

    Switch to the paddle attachment, and raise speed to medium. Beat buttercream until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. Step 5

    Pipe the poppies: Transfer one-quarter of the buttercream to a bowl (reserve remainder for frosting cupcakes), and tint with food coloring until you reach desired color for poppies. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large petal tip. Cut out twenty 2-by-3-inch rectangles of parchment. Adhere 1 parchment rectangle to a flower nail with a dab of buttercream. Holding the piping bag at a 45-degree angle, pipe 1 petal. Pipe a second petal, overlapping the first by 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Making a tighter turn with the nail, overlap the second petal to pipe a third.

  6. Step 6

    Sprinkle poppy seeds in the centers of flowers to create the look of stamens. Gently remove parchment from nail, and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining parchment and tinted buttercream. Refrigerate poppies for at least 2 hours.

  7. Step 7

    Gently remove poppies from parchment using an offset spatula. Place 1 on top of each cupcake.

Martha Stewart Living, May 2011



Reviews (1)

  • 26 Mar, 2012

    Too bad we can't see the pictures it looks like a challenging task but it looks very pretty!