3D Halloween Bat Cupcakes
Royal icing is quick and easy to make, and can be a ton of fun to work with - especially when you make things like these 3D Halloween Bat Cupcakes!
I mean, if you’re masochistic, you can use it to try your hand at the Lambeth Method for Cake Decorating... but I wouldn’t exactly call that “A ton of fun”, LOL!
What IS a lot of fun though, IMHO, is being able to customize cupcakes - or cakes, for that matter - with almost any design you can think up.
Just like tracing a template from under some parchment paper can yield some fun results - as I showed in my Frozen Buttercream Transfer Tutorial - the same technique can be used for piping Royal Icing designs.
Unlike Frozen Buttercream Transfers, you don't freeze Royal Icing as part of the technique - you leave it to dry out. As it dries, it hardens. Then, you simply - CAREFULLY - remove it from the parchment paper, and stick it to whatever treat you want to decorate!
In this case, I wanted to make some funky 3D Bat Wings to put on top of cupcakes. Halloween is coming up, after all!
While I’m specifically demonstrating how to make 3D Halloween Bat Cupcakes here, this technique can be used for almost any design - freehand or traced.
Before You Start
Just a few things to keep in mind, mostly around the fact that Royal Icing is FRAGILE:
- The bigger your design, the more fragile the design, and the more likely it is to break, but...
- The bigger your design, the easier it is to pipe more details
- A smaller design will be more durable... but
- A smaller design will need to be more simple in design
Also, you’ll want to consider your logistics. If you’re making a dozen cupcakes that will be stored in a cupcake holder, you need to consider that when deciding on the design.
- The design shouldn’t be much wider than the top of the cupcake, or it will not fit in with the other cupcakes in the holder
- If your design stands up, make sure the container has some clearance for that design!
So, try to strike a balance between appearance, durability, and logistics when dealing with your templates.
For me, I tend to go on Google and find an image I’m looking for. From there, I’ll size it and edit it, usually to remove detail - and colour. Plain black outlines on a white background is the easiest to work with.
Finally, make several extras. These are quite fragile and you will very likely break some - even just lifting them off the work surface. We all do, no judgement here!
Anyway, better to end up with too many, than too few... especially with the 12-24 hour dry time!
So, with all that said, let’s get to the 3D Halloween Bat Cupcakes Tutorial!
1. Bake Your Cupcakes
Once baked, allow them to cool to room temperature. (My Black Velvet Cupcakes recipe follows this tutorial, but you can use any cupcakes you’d like - homemade or not!)
2. Make your Royal Icing
My recipes for Royal Icing follow this tutorial, just after the cupcake recipe.
The traditional way uses a raw egg white and lemon juice - which is not ideal for very young kids, pregnant women, etc.
The safer way uses meringue powder, which is expensive but relatively easy to come by. You can get it at any cake decorating store, or on Amazon.
Now, if you'd like a TL;DR on the tutorial, I do have a video here:
3. Prepare Your Work Surface
You’ll need to pipe your bat wings on something flat and stable - you DON'T want them to bend or flex while they’re drying.
I like to use a cutting board, or the back of a baking sheet. Either one is small enough to make them easy to work with, but nice and sturdy to keep it safe.
4. Secure Template to Work Surface
Tape your design template down to your work surface. Masking tape works fine for most surfaces.
5. Affix Parchment Paper
Tape some parchment paper down over your template, being sure to leave a bit of space around the edges of your design.
As a heads up: While most tapes work fine for most surfaces, parchment paper is a unique case, as most tape does NOT stick to it.
I like to use hockey tape here. It’s not the most amazing hold, but it’s SOME hold - which is better than most tape, and is good enough in this case!
As you tape your parchment paper down to the template and board, be sure to keep it smooth, straight, and with any excess air pushed out.
6. Tint Some Royal Icing
Tiny some icing black. I like to use gel colour, rather than paste - I find it gets a stronger colour, generally speaking.
7. Prepare Your Piping Bag
Here’s where we - once again - get into some “do as I say, not as I do”. You know, kind of like the time I wrote my Dalek Sugar Cookie Decorating tutorial... just with a totally different excuse this time!
As you can see in the pics - and video, below - I didn't use a coupler and tip in my piping bag. You see, I got rid of ALL my caking stuff... sometime between when quit decorating cakes and when I moved to Canada.
Then I eventually decided to do these tutorials, so bought a little cake decorating set on Amazon. I put it aside until it was time to film and shoot this tutorial.
... and that’s when I discovered that this basic set did NOT have the smaller sizes of basic round tips. FOILED.
So, I’m demonstrating with just the very end of my piping bag cut off. It’s not as clean, the edges aren’t as pretty - but you can do it!
If you’d like to do it the more proper/professional way, I recommend a #2 or #3 round tip.
8. Check Icing Consistency
A good way to figure out if your icing is the right consistency is to pull a spoon through the middle of the frosting bowl.
– If the frosting settles out in less than 5 seconds, it’s too runny. Add a little more powdered sugar.
– If the frosting settles out in 5-10 seconds, you’re good to go!
– If the frosting takes longer than 10 seconds to settle, it’s too thick. Add a little water or lemon juice and try again.
If your icing is too runny, add a little powdered sugar to thicken it up. If it’s too thick, add a little water to thin it out.
9. Start Piping
Holding the tip / end of your frosting bag about 1 cm away from the surface, carefully pipe out your outlines and design details, as shown. I like to add a little bit of a buildup where the “body” would be, as a section that will stick into the cupcake frosting.
These lines will eventually contain the flow frosting, so make sure you don't have any breaks in the piping, or the icing will flow out to areas you don't want it!
10. Thin Your Icing
Before filling in the open areas, you'll need to thin the frosting so it will "flood" the decorating area. Add a few drops of water and stir well.
Use the end of your spoon to drizzle a bit of frosting back into the bowl. If it smooths out and disappears in a count of 3, you're good to go! If not, add a couple more drops of water until it's the right consistency.
11. Flood It!
Carefully pipe a bit of the liquid frosting into the areas you want.
At times, you'll probably not even need to squeeze the bag, just carefully guide it, nudging the icing into corners, etc.
Generally speaking, flood piping is done from the outside perimeter of an area inwards, but on these cupcakes there's so little room to work with, just do whatever feels right!
Set the work surface somewhere safe and dry, and leave it to harden overnight at minimum (depending on how humid your house is), but 24 hours as an ideal.
13. Make Your Cupcake Frosting
Whichever way you go, tint and flavour it as desired! I went with a few bright "Halloween" colours, but was originally going to go with orange and/or yellow - as a "Moon" for the bat to be shown against!
14. Pipe Your Frosting
Set up a piping bag with a coupler and a wide round or star tip (optional), or cut the end off.
Pipe a generous helping of frosting on each cupcake. Frosting is the best part - especially if we’re talking Swiss Meringue Buttercream!
15. Liberate Your Wings!
VERY carefully, lift each wing from the work surface. I like to slip a fingernail under an edge and just really gently lift.
If the wings feel stuck, they’re likely not dry yet - give them a few more hours!
16. Assemble Your Bats!
Carefully stick each pair of wings into the frosting of a cupcake.
17. Admire Your Work
If you're still considering ideas for Halloween, be sure to check out my:
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