December 22, 2011


I get intimidated by cupcakes. Not the baking part—that's easy. Line a muffin tray with pastel baking cups. Bake. Frost. Or, that’s what cupcakes used to be.

It’s the decorating that gets me. I blame all the cake decorating shows. Everyone wants to WOW with cupcakes. I can’t WOW. I can bake a great-tasting cupcake, but why do I have to sculpt a cartoon character on top? 

OK. I like those cartoon characters. One of my friends is a cake artist. Every day on Facebook I see pictures of Pokemon and SpongeBob cakes—even a turkey cake for Thanksgiving. It was life-size.

I love seeing these. But, now, when I bake cupcakes, I can't put them on Facebook. There's no show-stopping element to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting. Sure, they taste great. But, if I served plain cupcakes at a holiday party, I’m sure I would see sadness and confusion in the eyes of my guests.

But I realized I’ve put too much pressure on myself as the artist. No, I can’t sculpt a masterpiece in fondant, but I can work with materials that look legit.

Enter the candy cane. A box of 24 peppermint candy canes has saved my Christmas spirit and preserved my artistic integrity. They're colorful. They're cheap. And with just one break, it’s a shape I can work with. 

With the wrapper still on, press your candy cane against the edge of a counter. Break a little below the middle so you have a pole and a slightly longer hook. I’ve learned the break is cleaner and the candy cane less likely to break off in bits if you leave the wrapper on for this. 

With the hook parts, use two to make a peppermint heart. The key is giving cupcakes a witty name so everything looks intentional. I call these the All I Want for Christmas is You Cupcakes.

Whether Justin Bieber or Mariah Carey sings it better, we can all come together for easy, adorable cupcakes. You break two candy canes and shove the hooks into a cupcake. Done.

For the stem parts, use one and push into the center of each cupcake. Dot the stem with icing and place a cinnamon spice drop or red candy on top. Viola! North Pole Cupcakes. Sprinkle sugar crystals and crushed up peppermint around the cupcake for snow and ice.

These cupcakes look so legit. And all it takes is some wit and strength to break a candy cane. What candies do you use to decorate?

More Christmas Cupcakes: 

White Christmas Cupcakes

Chocolate-Peppermint Candy Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

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