The Little Monkey turned three this week. Yup, 3– I can hardly believe how quickly times go by. Personally, I’m not one to throw large kids’ birthdays until around the age of 4. It just seems like too much stimulation for young children, and honestly, Mellow Man and I aren’t party people. However, the Monkey does get to have a birthday celebration in his preschool, and his request was for Blue Monster cupcakes with sprinkles. He was very determined and focused on this request, and repeated it to me many times. I didn’t quite know how to make a “Blue Monster Cupcake with Sprinkles,” but as I heard about them every day for more than a week, ideas and plans started to grow and develop. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to translate my vision to reality *and* make sure that all of the Monkey’s wishes were fulfilled, but I was able to deliver two dozen Blue Monster Cupcakes with sprinkles to his preschool classroom on his birthday.
I took the Monkey with me to buy decorating supplies, and I’m glad that I did because I was able to see exactly what he wanted. He was very definite about the color blue, but had trouble narrowing it down. I actually ended up buying three different shades of blue coloring, and I was able to use all three between the cake and the frosting. If you aren’t used to making your own frosting and coloring cakes, I highly recommend that you use the coloring designed specifically for cakes and frosting, rather than the standard little pack of food coloring. The coloring is much more vibrant with the gel food coloring, and a little goes a long way. It is totally worth the investment of under $3 to be able to get the perfect, bright color for your cupcakes. I used the Royal Blue Gel Coloring found here to color the cake batter.
I use a very basic recipe for the cake batter that starts with cake mix. One of my favorite cookbooks is The Cake Mix Doctor, which is an amazing resource with fabulous recipes to dramatically improve your standard cake mix and make it taste homemade. It is one of the few cookbooks that I have used repeatedly and would highly recommend purchasing. Here is the basic recipe that I use for most of my “white” cakes that is from the Cake Mix Doctor:
- 1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix (preferably with pudding in the mix)
- 1 Stick (1/2 cup) of Unsalted, Softened Butter
- 1 Cup of 2% Milk (You can use whole milk for richer flavor, but I can’t ever justify buying a lot of whole milk as my kiddos don’t like it!)
- 3 Large Egs
- 2 Teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract
- Royal Blue Gel Food Coloring
Be sure to grease your cupcake liners or pan before pouring the cake batter! I found that I was able to get 16 “full” cupcakes with recipe. I ultimately ended up making two batches. I could have made 24 cupcakes if I had made them a bit skimpier. I would also like to warn you not to leave your mixer on high speed and leave it while you are doing other things. Too much fluffing of your cake batter isn’t a good thing. Less is more. (Yes, I’m reminding myself of that fact too, as several of my overly fluffy cupcakes “deflated” after coming out of the oven.) Bake your cupcakes at 350 for approximately 18 minutes. (A toothpick will come out of the center of the cupcakes clean when they are done.)
To make the “Sprinkle Surprise” in your cupcakes, you will need cooled cupcakes, sprinkles or confetti of your choosing, and a treat or cupcake corer. Again, this works better when your cupcakes have completely cooled! You’ll insert the corer in the center of the cupcake, and remove a portion of the cupcake. Save it! Don’t throw it away or eat it!
Then using a small spoon pour approximately 1/2 teaspoon of your selected sprinkles into the cupcake. This is a great job for an excited preschooler or toddler. The Monkey loved adding the sprinkles into the cupcakes, and it is great for fine motor practice!
Take the core of the cupcake, and save the top portion of the cake that includes the very top of the cupcake. You can throw away, or eat the lower half of the cupcake core. Then, gently insert the top of the core into the hole in the center of the cupcake.
Once you have done this will all of your cupcakes, no one will be able to tell without close inspection that there are hole in the middle of the cupcakes. Next you are going to frost the cupcakes. I used the Wilton Buttercream Icing Mix, but honestly, I’m not sure if it’s any different than making your own with butter and confectioner’s sugar. For the frosting, I ended up using a mixture of Sky Blue and Cornflower icing coloring to get the right shade of blue. This stage was so very messy, that I didn’t let the Monkey help me. To get the hairy looking design on the cupcakes, I put the frosting in the bag, and used a “grass” tip (No. 233).
Even though it’s Halloween, you can get the eye candy year round, and they have several different sizes both online and at a craft store. I got the smaller size, and had plenty left over. I had to test out the surprise too before I sent them to school with the Monkey, and it appeared when cutting them open the Sprinkle Surprise worked very well:
From what I have been told, the Blue Monster Sprinkle Surprise Cupcakes were a hit with the two- to three-year-old crowd. All of the children were surprised by their edible sprinkle confetti inside. It’s amazing that such a simple trick can bring such delight! Here’s a shot of the big birthday boy:
Happy Third Birthday Monkey Pie! We love you!