Our creation today was actually a birthday present. Crackers was invited to a party where the parents had requested no gifts (or something pre-loved), as they’re very into sustainable living. I know cupcakes don’t exactly fit into the category of pre-loved but I figured ‘human sustenance’ is pretty much in keeping with the sustainability theme. So we made these.
Besides, I’d been looking for an excuse to make these awesome-looking ‘No junk apple, cinnamon and strawberry muffins’ that I found on this great little blog called A Mummy Too. Adding the strawberry ladybugs just gave them that little bit of extra kids’ party street cred. Crackers was very proud to deliver our strawberry ladybug cupcakes to the birthday girls and the cakes were completely demolished in under 10 minutes. So I think we can say they were a hit.
Makes 8 full-sized cupcakes.
What you will need:
For the cakes
- 2 apples
- 3 eggs
- 100g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 120ml olive oil/coconut oil*
- 2 fresh strawberries finely diced
- red patty pans
- muffin tray
* We used 100ml olive oil and 20ml coconut oil, just to give the cakes a subtle hint of coconut flavour.
For the icing
We used a cream cheese frosting recipe from taste.com.au but you could easily substitute this with a vanilla buttercream if you prefer it. I’ve doubled the recipe here because we ran a bit short with ours.
- 120g cream cheese, softened
- 60g butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
- piping bag and cupcake piping tip
For the ladybugs
- 4 strawberries, halved, stalks removed
- a dark chocolate icing tube*
- Wilton candy eyeballs**
* The icing tube I bought was CK Products’ Candy Writer from a cake decorating store but I also bought a ‘Choc Trio’ set (dark, white and caramel) from Coles as a backup plan.
** I am sooooo in love with these little Wilton candy eyeballs, which I discovered for this project. If you don’t have a cake shop nearby, you can order these online. Or, if you don’t want to be a big fat cheat, like me, you could use a combination of dark chocolate and white chocolate writing tubes (just make sure you let the white ‘set’ before you do the dark bit). I had a go at doing this too – you can see the results of my experiment in the pics below (right). If you want to be *really* clever, you could melt dark and white chocolate and use a piping bag to get the same effect (this just seemed way too much like hard work to me!).
*** Below left is a pic of the icing tubes we used. The cake shop brand was more expensive but it seemed to set a bit harder than the Coles ones. We used the Coles white choc for the experiment with the non-candy eyes.
The first thing you want to do is get your cakes in the oven. While they are cooking, you can then mix up your icing and decorate your ladybugs.
So, for the cake…
1. Preheat over to 200°C (180°C fan-assisted).
2. Whisk the eggs with the maple syrup, cinnamon and oil.
3. Grate the apples, squeeze out the juice, and stir into the egg mixture with the strawberry pieces.
4. Fold in the self-raising flour.
5. Line your muffin tin with patty pans and spoon the mixture into them (about two thirds full). Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until golden and cooked in the centre.
For the icing…
1. Place cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat until pale.
3. Gradually add icing sugar mixture, beating until combined.
For the ladybugs…
1. Melt your icing tubes according to the instructions.
2. Pipe a line up the middle of your strawberry.
3. Put dots around the ‘body’ of the ladybug.
4. Colour in the pointy end of the strawberry for the head.
5. Stick the candy eyes on while the chocolate before the chocolate sets.
6. Repeat for each strawberry.