This was probably the most fun project I've worked on to date. I was asked by a customer to make a ladybug cake for her daughter's first birthday. She showed me something similar to what she wanted and my first impression was "oh boy... how do I do THAT??". And then the wheels started spinning. We're talking about a first birthday party. With kids. And lots of them. What a disaster a tiered fondant cake would be -- to cut, to serve, to eat. So I suggested cupcakes and a smash cake for the birthday girl.
I decided to use butter cream for the smash cake (for those of you who don't know what a smash cake is, it's a little cake that gets "smashed" for photos) because the point of a smash cake is to be, well, messy! Fondant wouldn't give you the same effect. But for the cupcakes, I wanted a clean, smooth look to them that butter cream wouldn't give.
I used a ball pan for the smash cake body. It's pretty big - maybe 6" diameter. For the head, I flattened some black fondant into a round disc. I then used my edible paper and food coloring printer to print a "face", and adhered that to the black fondant disc when it hardened. For the body, I used a star tip for the pink and black, and of course added green "grass" frosting around the base. My hands were KILLING me when I was finished, but it came out great and the customer LOVED it!!
Then it was time for the cupcakes. I needed 75, so I did three different designs - 25 of each. Each had a different cake flavor and a different butter cream infusion and thin spread of frosting underneath the fondant.
My first thought was to have Brittany help with the little fondant ladybugs. They had to be made days in advance because they had to dry enough to make the dots on them with the edible marker. So she helped... for 10 minutes. Then it became boring for her. But that was a HUGE problem because hers were perfectly shaped and mine looked horrendous. No bribery in the world would make her take days to make me ladybugs. Two days before the order was due, at way past midnight.... Erik and I were working on some of the other details while I was stressing about making hundreds of ladybugs.... and there it was. Right there on my counter, caught out of the corner of my eye.... PERFECT!! I noticed that my flip measuring spoons are perfectly shaped (1/2 circle) -- and the smallest size was a perfect ladybug size. Honestly, that shining moment in my non-double oven kitchen made me feel like I had just won the lottery. Ok, maybe not a million dollar lottery, but maybe a $10 scratch-off. So I went to work popping out little ladybug bodies for the next 15 minutes and 200 were done! I went to bed with a huge smile on my face that night!!! Here's Erik putting dots and a stripe on the bug bodies... and a shot of some of the bug bodies waiting for their heads.... haha
I used a round cookie cutter to cut the fondant cupcake covers, used a leaf cookie cutter for the leaf, a flower ones for the flowers, and rolled the stems out and thinned them at the edges. I think the next time I make these, I'll make larger circles on the pink ones. They look a little lost to me.
So, so, so much fun to make these!! And they gave me the courage to make some more fun fondant toppers. I'm working on a HUGE Mario Brothers theme for a party this weekend. Stay tuned for a recap and some pictures!!