Although I love just about everything about summer I have to admit I love the colors of fall. They are so rich and dramatic. Fall was the inspiration for this creation. It would be a perfect display for a fall party, Thanksgiving meal or even as center pieces for a fall wedding. Of course you aren’t limited to these colors for a cupcake bouquet. You can easily use whatever colors suit your decor or event!
Cupcake Bouquet With Chocolate Leaves
What you Need:
- 1 vase or small flower pot (I used a simple terra cotta pot)
- 1 foam ball that is slightly bigger than the opening of the pot (so it can sit on top)
- A hot glue gun or other good bonding glue
- A package of popsicle sticks (the number depends on the size of your bouquet but around 2 dozen)
- Cupcakes (again the number depends on the size of your pot and ball but mine took a full 2 dozen). NOTE – use a “firm” cupcake, nothing too light and fluffy or it won’t hold up.
- Butter cream icing in the color of your choice (I used chocolate)
- A piping bag and large star tip
- candy/chocolate melts to make the leaves (I used red, orange and chocolate)
- fresh leaves of various sizes (I used some from my crab apple tree)
Making the leaves
Start by gently washing and drying your leaves well ahead of time. You don’t want any moisture on them when you are ready to put the chocolate on them.
Melt your chocolate or candy melts in a double boiler or in a heat proof dish over a pot of simmering water. Start spreading the melted chocolate on your leaves. Be sure to use the BACK of the leaves so you get that great definition from the veining in the leaves. Some people use a paint brush for this but I find it slow and awkward. I use a small spoon to scoop a little chocolate on the leaf and use the backside to smooth it around. You don’t need it to be perfectly smooth because this will be the back of your finished leaf. And don’t worry about going too thick. It’s better to be a little on the thick side than too thin and brittle. You want your leaves to roughly be the thickness of a Pringle chip.
Place the coated leaves on a cutting board or a pan covered in wax paper. Place them in the fridge until they are completely set. Once they have set remove them from the fridge and gently peel the leaves from the chocolate. You will have some mishaps so just throw the broken leaves back in the melting pot.
Repeat the process with the different colors and place them all in a container in the fridge until you need them.
Make the bouquet
Start by gluing the styrofoam ball on top of the vase or pot. Let it set completely.
You have a couple of options now. You can decorate your cupcakes before you assemble the bouquet OR you can assemble and then put the icing on. It’s really up to you. I generally do my piping first but when it come to a tight spot where I have to insert a cupcake closely between two others I do find it easier to do the piping after I place the cupcake.
To decorate your cupcakes you want to use a “rose” pattern. Make sure your buttercream is not too soft. You want it to hold it’s definition. Using your large star tip (like a Wilton 1D) begin in the centre of the cupcake. Start with a good sized dollop in the middle and then, working counter clockwise, pipe in a spiral until you reach the outside edge of the cupcake. It’s really that simple.
Once you have your cupcakes decorated (or not if you are doing that after) you need to start working on placement. Grab your pot with the ball glued in and your popcicle sticks. Grab a cupcake and figure out where you are going to place the first one. You want to start at the bottom and you want that bottom row of cupcakes to cover the bottom of the ball. So once you figure out where the first cupcake is going to go make a mark with a pencil or whatever else you have handy.
Now grab a popcicle stick and insert it into the ball. You want to do this at a slight angle so the cupcakes are facing up just a little and won’t slide off the sticks. Insert the stick a little more than half way. You will have to experiment with this a bit depending on the size of your cupcakes but you want the stick to go almost all the way through the cupcake without going through the frosting. If you used a foil cupcake liner like I did grab a small paring knife and cut a little slit in the foil first.
Once you have the first cupcake placed grab another and determine where you want it, again you are going to do the whole bottom row to start. You want the cupcakes to touch slightly to avoid big gaps. Insert your second stick. Now that you have two sticks in you have a good guide to use. Take a measurement and use it to place the rest of the sticks. Once you have the first row of sticks in go ahead and place your cupcakes on them.
Now it’s time to start your second row. It’s the same as the first just make sure you place the second row between the cupcakes on the bottom row, don’t stack them, but alternate (likes bricks) to avoid gaps. Just keep going with this method until you have covered your entire ball with cupcakes.
A couple of notes:
- You may start to find that sticking the popcicle sticks in the ball become a challenge because they will start to overlap inside the ball. If this happens you may have to trim a stick or two to make it work
- I find once I get to the centre (top) of the ball it is easier to not use the sticks at all. If you don’t have to move your bouquet a lot it’s much easier to just place those last few on without the sticks. The other cupcakes cradle them very well.
Now that your bouquet is assembled get out your chocolate leaves. No matter how well you placed your cupcakes you are bound to have a few small gaps. Grab your leaves and just start filling the gaps. I don’t use anything to secure them, they generally just fit nicely in the small spaces but you could use a little bit of icing to help hold them in place if necessary or if you need to move your bouquet any distance (although if you do I would recommend not doing this step until you you get to where you are going).
If you want, add a pretty ribbon to your vase or flower pot and you are done!