November 16, 2008
A Ladybug Lullaby
About a month or so ago, an colleague of mine "put in her order" for two dozen cupcakes and one mom-to-be cake for a baby shower she was hosting. She gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted, with the exception that they had to have pink and brown ladybugs. I have been so excited to make them I think I got a little carried away...
Sixteen of the cupcakes had a ladybug and eight didn't. I did this to help break up the monotony and give me the opportunity to do add a few alternative designs. Every cupcake was a little bit different, with no two exactly the same. Assembly of each cupcake averaged about half and hour.
I made the ladybugs and flowers out of gum paste and the branches, mushrooms, and everything else out of fondant. Since the mom-to-be was a huge chocoholic, a used a dark chocolate brownie cupcake recipe from Guittard (it was on the back of the box of wafers!).
I was a bit fearful that the cupcakes were a bit over baked, so I topped them all with a generous dollop of dark chocolate ganache to add a bit of moisture and keep them from drying out. On top of that I piped a small amount of light pink vanilla buttercream and topped that with a thin disk of fluted-edged fondant on which I built the ladybug-scape. I like building the scene on the fondant because it's easy to just lift off the cupcake if the recipient doesn't want to eat the decorations on top.
I made all the ladybugs first since I knew they would take a while to fully dry. Their little antanne were made from non-edible flower stamens. I really didn't want to use something inedible but I just couldn't find an alternative. After that made about 75 flowers of different shapes, colors, and sizes. Once they had dried fully, I trimmed them all to get rid of any straggly edges and hand painted several of them to give them some personality.
As I sit here looking at the photos, I am a bit amazed that I made them. While they did take over my kitchen for the better part of a week, I am beyond thrilled with how they came out. I'm actually at a loss for words...