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mermaids and pirates cupcakes

I’m excited to share another fun idea today from Abby’s party… the cupcakes! There are so many different ways to go with mermaids and pirates, and I found a lot of really fun ideas on Pinterest. Ultimately, though, time was a big factor and so I decided to make the cupcakes simple and easy, while still sticking with the theme. I think they turned out awesome!

All the kids at the party were pretty thrilled about them, too, so it was a total cupcake win! I know I’ve posted a lot of cupcake recipes, but I think I’m ready to declare this one my very favorite. The texture is perfect, the taste is perfect, and after making multiple batches I think I’ve finally worked out all the kinks! Here are a few things that I’ve learned are important with this recipe: first, make sure your butter is softened correctly. I’m really impatient so I usually try to soften it in the microwave, and then it’s half melted and half cold. If you have time, let it soften on the counter, and if not, try the new trick I just learned of cutting the butter into 1 inch pieces and then microwaving it at 3-4 second intervals until it is softened. Second, make sure your eggs are room temperature. I do this quickly by putting them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before cracking them. And third, make sure your oven temperature is correct! I actually had to make two batches of these cupcakes because the first time, I heated the oven to what it claimed was 325, and the bottoms were black before the tops were cooked. Boo! The second time, I set the oven to 300 (which I think was actually closer to 325) and they were perfect. I’m going to buy an oven thermometer this week so I can know for sure in the future. This cupcake recipe is a keeper!

adapted from Annie’s Eats

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 325. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until blended. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, and beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary to ensure the mixture is well blended. Scoop into prepared muffin tins, filling 1/2-2/3 full. Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I would start checking after 15 minutes). Let cool completely. 

adapted from Emma the Joy

1 cup butter, softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
food coloring (I used 4 drops of blue and 2 of green)

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, and beat well to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and vanilla. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add additional milk if too thick. Beat in food coloring.

for the mermaid cupcakes:
blue candy melts (I used these ones)
pearl sprinkles (I used these ones)
seashell mold (I used this one)

for the pirate cupcakes:
pirate flags (I found one in the public domain and scaled it, which you can download here)
goldfish crackers
pearl sprinkles

To make the mermaid cupcakes, place the candy melts in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for one minute at 50% power. Stir and then microwave at 50% power for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. Spoon or pipe into candy mold, underfilling slightly. Gently tap the mold on the counter to release air bubbles and level the candy. Place in the refrigerator for a few minutes to harden, then pop out. Trim edges if necessary. Place on top of cupcakes and sprinkle with pearls.

To make the pirate cupcakes, print and cut out pirate flags. Fold the end of the flag around a toothpick and tape to hold in place (I used cute washi tape, but any tape will work). Stick into cupcakes and add swimming goldfish and pearl sprinkles.

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  1. Can you the make the icing ahead of time and refrigerate it, or does that ruin the consistency?
    Making these for my daughters' mermaid party this weekend. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial and pictures!

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