Woodland Cupcakes

Woodland Cupcakes

When one of my good friends was having a baby shower, of course I signed up for dessert duty. My first question was, what's the theme? Woodland was decided so I got to work searching Pinterest. Man, do I love a theme. 

After spending what was probably five times the time amount of time necessary (you how that goes) , "moss" cupcakes, hedgehogs and chocolate acorns seemed like the perfect combo for woodland cupcakes!

woodland cupcakes | sarah makes stuff

The mom-to-be is vegan so I had to make at least the cupcakes vegan. Instead of trying to make a vegan cupcake recipe myself, I played it safe and went with Pasty Affair's Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

For the frosting I made my favorite buttercream recipe but I switched out the butter and milk for vegan substitutes. 

There were couple ways to go about making the "moss", I went with crumbled cake method. To keep things simple I made a soda cake. All you have to do it mix a box cake mix with 12 ounces of any carbonated beverage. It's like magic, seriously. I made two cakes since I was making ~50 cupcakes and they ended up being slightly different shades of green which I think ended up making it more mossy looking. If anyone asks, I totes did it on purpose ;)

The chocolate acorns are super easy! I made about 200, since they were so simple and perfect for munching on. 

woodland cupcakes | sarah makes stuff

For the little hedgehogs I was going to use donut holes, as I had seen over on the Pinterest webs, but after three unsuccessful attempts to buy donut holes (of course I didn't go to a donut place, but still), I had an epiphany! Cream puffs! Ohhhhhh yeaaahhhhhh!  Look at those guys! They're adorable! And that they were frozen made the chocolate harden faster and everything. Cream puffs > donut holes x 1000!

woodland cupcakes | sarah makes stuff
woodland cupcakes | sarah makes stuff
woodland cupcakes | sarah makes stuff
woodland cupcakes | sarah makes stuff

I quadrupled the recipe to make 48 cupcakes.
You can use any chocolate cupcake recipe you want. I used Pasty Affair's Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes recipe since they needed to be vegan and I'm pro butter. 

I doubled this recipe for the 48 cupcakes. You find the non-vegan version of this recipe here.
1 cup vegan butter
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons vanilla almond milk
green gel food coloring until desired color is reached

I doubled this recipe to cover the 48 cupcakes.
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist White Cake Mix
12 ounces cream soda (or any carbonated beverage)
green gel food coloring until desired color is reached

36 mini cream puffs (I bought mine but if you wanted to get super adventurous, you could make your own.)
10 ounces chocolate, separated (I used chocolate almond bark)
chocolate sprinkles

Obviously you could cut this recipe down.
4 ounces chocolate (I used chocolate almond bark)
200 Mini Nilla Wafers (11 ounce box)
200 Hershey Kisses (40 ounce bag)
200 chocolate chips

Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, food coloring and 2 tablespoons of almond milk and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs be stiffer, add more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinner, add more almond milk.

Adapted from Savory Sweet Life's Classic Buttercream Frosting 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch cake pan. In a large bowl beat dry cake mix, food coloring and carbonated beverage with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, and then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping the side of the bowl. Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool until room temperature and then crumble into small pieces. 

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Two-Ingredient Soda Pop Cupcakes

Set out some large plastic containers. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate in a bowl as instructed on package. Pour sprinkles into a bowl. Moving quickly, and working in batches that will fit in your plastic containers, dip most of the cream puff into the chocolate, then sprinkles and place into the container. Once the container is full put in the freezer. Continue until all the hedgehogs have their "spikes". Now melt the remaining 2 ounces chocolate and place in a piping bag fitted with a #1 piping tip. Working in batches again, take out your cream puffs and pipe on two little eyes and a nose. Place back in the freezer. Take out of freezer 30 minutes before enjoying. 

Line your surface with parchment paper. Melt your 4 ounces chocolate in a bowl as instructed on package. Place in a piping bag fitted with a #2 piping tip. Place your Mini Nilla Wafers upside down on the parchment paper. Working in batches, pipe out a small amount of chocolate onto the center of the cookies and place a Hershey Kiss in the center. Once that is complete, wait until set, shouldn't be too long, and then flip over your chocolates so the Nilla Wafer is facing up. Then pipe a small amount of chocolate onto each chocolate chip and place in center of each cookie. Wait until set and then enjoy!

Once cupcakes have cooled, use a pairing knife and cut a hole out of the center of the cupcakes. Pipe frosting into the hole and then pipe a thin layer of frosting around the top of the cupcakes. Smooth out frosting with a small spatula. Take green cake crumbles and cover the frosting with it. You’ll have to play with it a little and smoosh it in. 

Place acorns and hedgehogs as toppers on your cupcakes. If you went the vegan route with those cupcakes, leave some un-topped for your vegan friends. 

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