One of my dearest friends is having a party to celebrate her birthday so I thought a great gift would be to make her some very special couture cupcakes.
I use the term couture a little tongue in cheek - I don't think they're a one off design, but the distinction sets it way above a basic buttercream swirl.
First thing to consider is flavour - a couture cupcake has to taste amazing.
My friend's favourite cake flavour is jaffa so I wanted to make a very special chocolate and orange cake. And orange doesn't get more special than Grand Marnier, that oh so beautiful french liquor. I did a test batch of cuppies using Lindt Intense Orange chocolate. They were nice but the dried orange and almond pieces kind of spoilt the texture a bit. So I'm modifying the recipe by using unsweetened cocoa instead and appling a coat of dark chocolate ganache under the icing.
Now we get to the fun bit - the design. I like to ask people what colours they'd like and any specific design elements. In this case my design brief was turquoise and red.
Inspiration can come from the strangest places. I flicked through mags and websites but nothing really stood out. Then I looked at the box of tissues in my bathroom and I had it - red cherry blossoms with turquoise fondant.
Hmmmm....red flowers. I'll admit the idea of red scared me initially. I've heard many horror stories about how hard it is to colour icing red. But then I thought if I could buy flower modelling paste already coloured red then maybe it would be ok. (Never mind the fact that I'd never used modelling paste before!)
Red modelling paste is terrible - its so wet and sticky and it stains your fingers. But after kneading in a lot of cornflour it got easier and I managed to roll out some blossoms to put together a design concept for my friend to approve - she loves them!
As for the turquoise, I got some gorgeous Confetta blue damask papers. Since they were a darker hue, I decided that a lighter turquoise fondant would make the red cherry blossoms pop. The branches are piped using black writing icing.
Now its all about logistics. Three dozen cupcakes means:
* 108 perfect blossoms (120 just to be sure)
* 1kg RTR fondant coloured turquoise
* Big batch of dark chocolate ganache (leftovers can be frozen)
* 4 dozen cupcakes (I always make extra as my insuarnce policy)
The order is for this Saturday night so I've been making 20 blossoms every night for the past week. I'll colour the fondant and make the ganache on Tuesday. Bake and ganache cakes on Thursday. Ice and decorate on Friday. Deliver on Saturday and toast the birthday girl with a well deserved glass of champagne!