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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Designer Cupcakes

I spent just over 5 hours last week learning how to make and decorate cupcakes!

When my friend Sarah found out that The Bonnie Gordon School of Cake Design offered a "Designer Cupcake Workshop," Sarah, and a bunch of my other girlfriends knew that this would be the perfect birthday present for me!

As soon as I got there, I took a self-guided tour!

It was neat to see all of the industrial sized baking equipment and cake trays.

DAY 1 - Baking
Isabelle Loiacono instructed our small group of six. On the first day, we made two different kinds of cupcakes. Three of us made Chocolate filled Cappuccino cupcakes while the others made Dulce De Leche filled Apple Spice Cupcakes. In fact, the Apple Spice recipe also called for walnuts, but everyone was very understanding of my nut allergy, so the nuts were omitted.

Below are most of the ingredients for the cappuccino cupcakes. You'll have to attend the course to receive the recipes!
I learnt a new way of filling muffin tins! While I usually pour all of the batter into the muffin tins from a large measuring cup, Isabelle likes to put all of the batter into a large piping bag and pipe the batter into the tins. Sabrina (another woman who I met while taking the course) suggested that she likes to use an ice cream scoop which helps her add the same amount of batter to each tin. Choose the method that works best for you!
After the batter was added, only the finest, LINDT Swiss premium chocolate was added to the middle of the cupcake before baking.

This created the oozing chocolate effect when the Cappuccino cupcakes came out of the oven!
Just look at that delicious melted chocolate!
Don't you just want to take a bite?
Using a piping bag, dulce de leche was added to the Apple Spice Cupcakes. A little sweet for me...but, if you have a sweet tooth...boy are you in for a treat!
The baking part was fun and I did learn many tips.

Some of them include:
  • The lighter color the bakeware, the better
  • Bake with ingredients at room temperature
  • When mixing in flour using a stand mixer, always mix at the lowest speed. This creates a fluffier cake.
  • If baking using a convection oven, decrease the temperature by 25 degrees and reduce baking time by approximately 5 minutes
Day 2 - Decorating (My Favourite!)
This was the day of the course that I was looking forward to the most! I had never taken any cake or cupcake decorating courses before so I was really excited to learn some new ways of making the cupcakes look beautiful. It really is an art form!
When I arrived, written on a white board were all of the different types of cupcakes we would be learning how to decorate.
The best part was that we had all of the possible tips, coloured icings and supplies right there in front of us...many of which I had never used or known how to properly use before.

Isabelle did a demonstration of each cupcake. I tried to follow along!

Sunflower Cupcake
Use tip #366 (large leaf tip)

Leaf tip forms the shape of a leaf. Start at the outer edge of the cupcake and pull away to form the leaf. Repeat around the entire outer edge of the cupcake. Continue to form another layer in between each set of leaves to form two circles of leaves. Fill the centre of the sunflower with melted Merckens chocolate. (This is the same chocolate that I use to make the chocolate coating for the cheesecake pops!) Sprinkle immediately with white round sprinkles if desired.

Flower Cupcake with Swirl Icing
Use tip #126 (large petal tip)
To create the swirl: I often just fill a piping bag with two colours. On the left side of the bag, I would add purple for example, and on the right side, I would add the other colour like pink. The result, a nice swirl. However, I learned a new technique from Isabelle where the inside of a piping bag is lined with one colour. I think it should be the darker color. So imagine that you will draw vertical lines on the inside of the bag with one color and then fill the bag with the other colour.

To create the flower: Use the petal tip with the smaller part at the top. The larger part should be at the base of the flower. Start almost levelled at first and make your way around the outer part of the cupcake. On the second layer, angle the piping bag at about a 45 degree angle and continue until the flower is complete. Use the Swirl tip # 804 to add a dab to the middle of the flower. (This was a hard one for me! But with practice, I might eventually improve!)

Ladybug Cupcake
This one was my absolute favourite! So adorable and so easy to make. Dip your cupcake into chocolate ganache and dip just over half of the cupcake into round red sprinkles. Use melted Merckens chocolate to add dots and add silver dragees (silver candy balls) as eyes. On a piece of parchment paper, draw out the "ears" and let set in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes. With a toothpick, create two holes for the ears toward the front of the cupcake without any sprinkles. Detach chocolate ears from parchment paper and stick into holes. The adorable ladybug cupcake!

I love it!!!!
So simple and so adorable! I am also going to try to replace the fancy ganache with chocolate icing. I'm sure the ladybugs would look just as cute!

Here are some of the beautiful flowers we learned how to create using fondant!
Mine is the one with the yellow base. Not bad for a rookie!

Here we are....focused and hard at work!

It is also such a great treat when someone else is cleaning up after your mess.

It was time to pack up the cupcakes. To ensure that cupcakes would not move during delivery, I learned to drop a small dab of icing under each one. This acted as a glue and secured each one to the box.

Thanks to my wonderful girlfriends Sarah, Julia, Joelle, Sherri, Lauren, Jen, Adrienne and Clare for such a thoughtful and useful birthday present. I love you girls and I will definitely be making some for you to eat the next time you all come over!


  1. The cupcakes look adorable, it sounds like you had a lot of fun! And I love LINDT chocolate, unfortunately it's not the cheapest, but good things have their price. ;-)


  2. Looks like you had an awesome time! I would love to take a class like that. I'm visiting via Bakerella. Feel free to link up your creations anytime on my Cupcake Tuesday Blog Carnival. I would love to have you!

  3. Oops, sorry - and congrats on your engagement! How exciting to have Bakerella help out!

  4. That looks like so much fun! I saw someone on a show recently doing the cupcakes by pastry bag method, I wish I could remember what show it was. I think it's very clever!

  5. this is amazing how much you learned in just 2 days. I am so happy for your Engagement!
    What a great way to start your life together!

  6. What a great birthday present. Your cupcakes are beautiful.

  7. Another good tip for transporting cakes and cupcakes is carpet stabelizer (the sort of rubber piece you put under carpets to keep it from slipping that can be found at most hardware stores). Place a cut out of it in the box as well as under the box to keep both the box and its contents from moving about.

  8. YUMMY!! My gosh the cappuccino cupcakes look delicious!

  9. will you post the icing recipe pretty please? its awesome! ^^

  10. oh my GOSH you lucky girl!!!! i adore these cupcakes - so stinkin cute! what a great group of friends!

  11. That looks like so much fun! I decorated a few cupcakes for my dad's 70th that didn't turn out so hot and I kept thinking, I'm SURE there's a better way to do this! lol

    Stopping by from Bakerella! CONGRATULATIONS!!! :)

  12. Congrats on your engagement!! Followed you over here from Bakerella. Wow that looks fun. If you're interested, Michael's offer Wilton's "Discover Cake Decorating" classes and they're pretty cheap. I signed up for the class and it was only $25 and they have 4 classes, 2 hours each class.

  13. What a fabulouse gift to attend the Bonnie Gordon School of Cake exciting.
    Good job on your cupcakes.

  14. I LOVE your cupcakes. I've been considering experimenting with cupcakes like that (with something other than cupcake mixture though).

  15. Hi Melissa!

    Saw your story on sweet! Congrats! I'd love to give you a free blog makeover to me at fabulousk {at} ymail {dot} com or visit me at


  16. What great friends!! Sure wish we had something like that here in Montana! Wow Bakerella helped in more than 1 way!! Im so glad I found your blog your ideas are amazing!!

  17. Oh my goodness that looks like an amazing class! I need to see if I have something like that in my area. Your cupcakes came out great and thanks for those tips. Ever tried to make mini cupcakes? They are adorable!

  18. Hey Mel, saw your story on Bakerella. I, like Kelly aboeve would love to do something for you to celebrate. Email me and I would love to design some cute little cards for you to promote your blog.

  19. guess my email address would help...positivefeedback(at)live(dot)com

  20. Saw your story on Bakerella--congrats! Also, I love cupcakes and love decorating them! I've always dreamed of owning my own cupcake shop...loved looking at your finished ones! Looked like it would have been a very fun class!!

  21. Stopping by from Bakerella to say Congrats....what a sweet proposal (pun intended)
    BTW I will be making that French Toast recipe!
    best of luck

  22. Coming over from Bakerella too, congratulations on your engagement! I love your blog!

  23. Congratulations to a fellow Canadian on your engagement! I am a big fan of Bakerella and impressed at what you are doing too! Keep up the good work and hang on to that fantastic man.

    The bug biologist in me wishes to correct you one one thing - ladybugs don't have ears, they have antennae. :)

  24. I would LOVE to go to a class like that. or any baking class really :) How do you find out about stuff like that?

  25. Those cupcakes look soo cute! I wish there was a place like that here. I'm not a big baker but the coming up holidays always bring it out of me. Maybe I'll try the lady bug ones.

    On another note, I have to admit when I saw the proposal on Bakeralla, I couldn't read fast enough to see what happened. Congratulations to both of you. Many blessings on your future. :o)

  26. another Bakerella fan feeling compelled to tell you CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement (one of the SWEETEST stories i've ever heard, btw)!!

    love your blog so far... you are inspiring me to get back into it! great job on the cupcakes!!

  27. CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement.
    Such a sweet idea.
    Have a w *wonderful* life !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. What a fabulous birthday present! Looks like you are running on a sugar high these days! Congratulations on your engagement and kudos to Rick for such creativity! I especially love that you guys are from Canada (I live in the Niagara Region)...

    Keep on baking!

  29. wow- I am soooo glad i dropped by this site from Bakerella's (who could resist after that wonderful proposal!) Love the cupcakes. But I am wondering if the tip you gave for lowering the temp on the conv oven is for ALL baking or just Cupcakes? do you know? thanks

  30. What a fabulous class to take! You did a fantastic job for a rookie and thanks for the mini lesson. I feel like I could actually make something from what you shared with us. A huge CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement. Your man sounds like a sweetie, no pun intended, lol!

  31. I just had to tell you I just read your proposal story and I am all teary-eyed! Can I please come photograph your wedding :) You two are just so sweet!
    Much success to you with the blog and your baking adventures.

  32. Wow, these cupcakes do not look like they were made by a rookie. They look beautiful and professional! Keep up the good work, and congrats on your engagement as well. It sounds like you have a wonderful guy. :)

  33. Joelle said...
    Now you're in trouble. Know who to ask for Ro's first b-day cupcakes!!!! Still think you should be catering!

    Andrea said...
    They are beautiful!!! Where r u taking the course? My sister did the cake classes at Michael's a few yrs ago.

    Jen said...
    Glad you had fun! Love the lady bug!!!

    Shirel said...
    Wow did you makes those cupcakes?

    Naomi said...

    Kelly said...
    Those cupcakes are amazing Mel!!
    Lucky Rich!

    Adrienne said...
    They look too gorgie to eat!

    Mark said...
    Looks delicious, bring me one?!?!?