Baked Goods, Cake, Cupcakes, Desserts

Day at the Beach Cupcakes

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” is a famous quote attributed to Mark Twain and often bantered about in regards to the bizarre weather in my new hometown. Well it turns out that Mark Twain never said that. In fact no one really knows who first threw that little witticism out there to begin with but I can attest to this being by far the coldest summer I’ve ever lived through.

To illustrate this point, it’s 4:00 PM right now and only 60° and the five-day forecast predicts a high of 65° pretty much indefinitely. Admittedly the low 60’s are a perfectly acceptable temperature but it doesn’t really inspire you to lay out by the pool or spend the day at the beach slathered in SPF 55 while reading a trashy novel. This means that each time someone on Facebook or Twitter posts about going to the beach I turn bright green with envy and get very grumpy. Thankfully we do have some proper beach time scheduled at the end of the month when we go to Florida for CK’s sister’s wedding. Otherwise my head might explode.

In an effort to curb my sun and sand longings I decided to bring the beach to me. An edible beach that is. These ocean inspired cupcakes are topped with white and blue icing, shiny sugar, crunchy graham crackers, lounge chairs formed from sticks of gum, gumball beach balls, and a nifty little cocktail umbrella to keep out those summer rays. I had a lot of fun making these, which really surprised me as I tend to hate doing things like this. Decorating the cupcakes felt very zen and calming. I didn’t have even one little hissy fit. Maybe San Francisco is rubbing off on me?

Day at the Beach Cupcakes

Originally published on the Family Fun website. Posted below with my edits and tips.

1 box white cake mix or your favorite cupcake recipe
Blue food coloring
Cupcake pan with liners (preferably blue)
Vanilla frosting
Graham crackers or shortbread cookies; crushed
Small ziplock bag
Blue sugar crystals (Erin’s Note: you can make blue sugar by adding blue food coloring to plain sugar)
Fruit Stripe gum (1 stick per cupcake)
Gumballs (1 per cupcake)
Small drink umbrellas (1 per cupcake, available at party stores)
Erin’s Note: The original recipe called for baking red Swedish fish into your cupcake. I personally think that sounds revolting so I left them out.

Prepare the cake mix according to the cupcake directions. Add blue food coloring, drop by drop, until the batter is the desired shade of ocean water. Put liners in the cupcake pan and fill each cup two-thirds full with batter. Bake as directed and let the cupcakes cool. Erin’s Note: Put your cupcakes in the refrigerator. Cold cupcakes are much easier to work with and the tops wont get crumbly.

Scoop half of the frosting into a bowl and add blue food coloring until the color matches the batter. Erin’s Note: I found that it worked best to frost half of the cupcake with white icing. Then I dipped the iced portion of the cupcake onto a plate of graham cracker crumbs. Tidy up the” sand” section and made sure to brush any extra crumbs from the unfrosted side. Then ice the other half of the cupcake with blue frosting and carefully sprinkle it with blue sugar.

Bend a third of a stick of Fruit Stripe gum to look like a beach chair and position it on the sand side of the cupcake. Erin’s Note: Do this carefully. The gum breaks easily.

The drink umbrellas are a pain and don’t stay-up on their own. I found that if I opened the umbrella to my desired position I could then use a small piece of tape to secure it in place. Finally, dot the bottom of a gumball with icing and place it on your beach.