Mini-Cupcake Butterfly: Tips & Tricks

First off, this post has absolutely Nothing, Nada, Zilch to do with Leila Photography, or even photography in general.  But, after a project like this, you just feel like sharing.  So, my friends, just in case you ever have the whim to create a huge butterfly out of mini-cupcakes, here are a few tips to help you along. (If you are one who eats clean and despises pre-packaged food products, please stop now!  Spare yourself the pain from reading further.)

#1.  CAKE MIXES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
I’ve made a cake from scratch very few times in my life.  Cake mixes just seem way too handy. However, even with the same brand of cake-mix there is obviously a huge difference.  My chocolate cake mix whipped up awesome, but the golden cake mix was very meringue-y.  It didn’t bake as well, and seemed to be more dry.  Hmmm, go figure.  At least it was only a bite.  Fingers crossed that the preschool set won’t really notice.

(Phone pic)  I taped two large pieces of cardboard together.  I Googled for a butterfly pattern and then eye-balled the basic shape and used a sharpie to draw it onto the cardboard.  I then covered the cardboard with Parchment paper.  The outline of the butterfly was still visible as a guide, but I could put the cupcakes on a clean surface.

#2.  WILTON IS MY FRIEND!
 I totally used pre-bought decorator icing.   Now, I don’t really like the taste of it, but with about 140 cupcakes to ice, it’s the easiest route. (See #3).  I did whip in a package of cream cheese with the decorator icing.  My 7 year old gave the taste a thumbs up. I personally thought it improved the taste, while still giving you the easy to use stiffness of decorator icing.  I bought the BIG tub and used about 85% of it to ice these cupcakes.

#3. BE LAZY
When I was buying my icing, I saw the Wilton Color Mist Food Spray.  A light bulb went off.  I thought, wow if that stuff works, I won’t have to color separate batches of icing.  I can ice all of those puppies white and then just go to town. So, that is exactly what I did.  Laziness totally paid off. It kind of gives it a cool air-brushed look, plus it was lots of fun.

#4. NO FIREARMS
Even if you have declared the kitchen completely OFF-LIMITS to anyone under 18, you might want to know that a Nerf bullet, shot from the living room, can knock three (thankfully un-iced) cupcakes completely off the table.  Okay, so maybe the real tip is always bake extras to replace any casualties of war. This will help for #5 as well. 

#5. FROM HERE TO THERE
Transporting a ginormous butterfly made out of cupcakes from point A to point B, ended up being the most difficult part of the project. I packed the cupcakes in the car on a blanket with towels rolled around it. I drove with more caution than new parents leaving the hospital with their first-born.  However, There were still some mis-haps.  Thankfully, I had thought to take a trusty repair kit of extra icing, the Wilton sprays and even an extra cup-cake to try to beautify any mis-haps.  Good idea!

#6. THOUGHTS FOR THE FUTURE
I’m thinking in the future, it would totally make sense to use a cool-temp hot glue gun to glue the bottoms of the cupcake wrappers on the parchment.  It would keep them in place, but they should still pop off easily enough when you wanted to eat them, right?  I don’t know.  Let me know if you have any great ideas.

#7.  ALWAYS TAKE PICTURES
I actually made a mini-cupcake butterfly last year for the  Noah’s Ark Preschool butterfly release.  However, I didn’t take one picture of it.  We made sure this year’s butterfly project was well documented.  (This little man kind-of melted my heart when he grabbed the old Kodak Hawkeye and started taking “pictures.”)

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