03 October 2011

The Saga of the Cookie Monster Cupcakes

I'm never working with blue frosting again. At least not with a piping bag. Below is a picture of the prototype of my sister's 40th birthday Cookie Monster cupcakes. She saw them on Facebook months ago and asked if I could make them. "Sure!" I said with so much naive enthusiasm. After consulting with some fellow bakers on Twitter, I decided to go with a buttercream frosting. I had never made buttercream, but how hard could it be?

They look so innocent
The frosting itself is very easy, thanks to a great recipe in my America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. It is a little time consuming, but the product turns out so well, it's well worth the time. I added the blue food coloring (a combo of regular blue and neon blue for that extra Muppet-esque blue) along with the vanilla, figuring it wouldn't break any of the fat at that point. I was right! Woo hoo! Score one for me! And despite getting blue dye all over the place, it wasn't as hard as I thought. I experimented with the cupcake a couple times settling on a yellow cake recipe that I threw some confetti topping into and made, essentially, funfetti cupcakes (by the way, I think the first batch of white cake I made with the star shaped confetti turned out the best, but I didn't have time to go get more).

For the experiment cookies, I made thin, crispy chocolate chip cookies because they looked small enough (pictured in Cookie Monster's mouth above), but I used WAY too much dough and they ended up being more than a mouth full for our blue friend. I'm really glad I had the practice and really wish I hadn't changed my cookie plan.

Of course the day I plan to bake my new batch of cookies, it turned out to be our last 80+ degree day in Portland. I made the dough for the Cook's Illustrated perfect chocolate chip cookie (and they are perfect), wrapped it up and decided to bake it on Saturday, the day of the party.

Fast forward to Saturday. Why, oh why, must I always leave just barely enough time to accomplish a task? I went out with my mom and sister for some last-minute party items and didn't get back to the house until a little after noon. The party was at 4. I started with the cookies and had to experiment on the baking time and temperature of the oven since I was making them about a third of the size recommended. After one batch, I perfected it and moved on to making the cake while the cookies baked. The cake turned out well, even with forgetting my scale (best.way.ever to measure), and having to multiply odd cup measurements by 1.5. So, chocolate chip cookies - check! Cupcakes - check! Just had to finish defrosting the frosting from being in the refrigerator, make the eyes with the white chocolate discs and chocolate chips, let everything cool, then it was go time. I still had a couple hours, but had to give up the kitchen to mom, who was making some amazing Mexican food for us that night.

Getting my cake ingredients ready while cookies bake
Have to get the sprinkles well integrated, but hurry before they bleed too much and you overwork the batter

My mountain of cookies...sister says I should work for Nabisco...hoping that's a compliment
Eyes without a face...
Cupcake assembly line
Just about ready to frost--don't want Cookie Monster's face to melt
Shawn expertly stuffed these way-too-thick cookies in the cupcakes without breaking them too much
It's finally time to frost, I get my piping bag ready and filled with a cup or so of blue frosting. I quickly realize that this frosting will be getting everywhere and after dying my right hand a nice bright blue, end up putting some gloves on to finish the task.

Did you know buttercream melts fast when it's warm? Um...duh. I knew that, but didn't really consider that the huge trays of beans my mom was frying and pots of rice she was making was going to considerably warm up the kitchen. So, it was a race to dot the cupcakes with little shaggy blue frosting "hair" before it turned into big blue globs of melted butter and sugar.

The race to the finish line...already starting to glob
Almost done (sorry for the blurry picture)

I'm going to spare you the meltdown (pun intended) that ensued...after the frosting had a few trips back into the refrigerator, I finally managed to finish decorating, minus the eyes. We took the trays of cupcakes outside and let them sit there for a few minutes to cool down so the frosting would set up a little more and I could stick in the eyes, which was done frantically as people were arriving. I broke a few in the process because, unlike the frosting, the eyes didn't stick together as well out in the cold. Sigh.

We added some crumbled up cookies to his face to make it look like he was gorging himself, much like I would be on these suckers...they are perfect
Happy 40th, Gina!

At the end of the night, I had one happy sister...and a lot of guests with blue tongues. However, it will still be a cold day in hell before I work with blue frosting. I guess that would be a good thing if I was going to make them.


  1. They look amazing! I want to eat one (or three) ;)

  2. Thank you again for the effort! Big success! And I love this blog post, especially the "eyes without a face" caption above! LOL! :-)

  3. Ahhhh, those look so good! OM NOM NOM NOM NOM!

  4. Oh, and /could/ work for Nabisco.... just the uniformity was impressive. And of course, when I said same to P.J., his response was "but she's not an Elf". *grins*

  5. That comment was for Shawn and those who would truly appreciate a good Billy Idol reference.