Super Cute Cupcakes

Looking for a sweet centerpiece for your child's birthday bash? Check out this collection of clever, festive, and irresistibly awesome ideas from our readers.

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Dino Bites

Photograph by Lucy Schaeffer

Dino Bites

Winning Reader: Chandra O'Connor, Charleston, WV

The plastic dinosaurs on Chandra's cupcakes do double-duty as treat toppers and party favors. Use green food coloring to tint vanilla frosting (we used about 2 cups to decorate a dozen cupcakes). Shape the eggs from Tootsie Fruit Rolls, first softening each in the microwave for about 3 seconds. For the egg spots, warm a fruit roll in a contrasting color, break off pieces and form disks, then press them in place. Place green sprinkles in a small bowl. Working with one cupcake at a time, apply a generous layer of frosting, dip it in the bowl of sprinkles, then press on a toy dinosaur and a candy egg.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Rainbow Delight

Photograph by Lucy Schaeffer

Rainbow Delight

Winning Reader: Tasha McKinley, Sullivan, MO

What's at the end of Tasha's colorful, cakelike arrangement? A room full of happy guests, of course. Start with 2 cans of vanilla frosting, 6 standard cupcakes, and 48 mini cupcakes (we used one box of cake mix and filled the liners halfway). Tint five separate bowls of vanilla frosting with food coloring as follows: 1 cup red and 1/2 cup each orange, yellow, green, and purple. Reserve the remaining frosting for the clouds. Top the mini cupcakes with frosting as follows (we piped ours on with an Ateco #32 tip): 15 red, 12 orange, 9 yellow, 7 green, and 5 purple. Generously frost the large cupcakes with the untinted frosting and cover each with mini marshmallows. Arrange the cupcakes on a platter in a half rainbow, placing five of the cloud cupcakes at one end, or a full arc with three clouds at each end.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Brain Food

Photograph by Lucy Schaeffer

Brain Food

Winning Reader: Elisabeth Morse, Ashburn, VA

Elisabeth's creative molecule cupcakes pay tribute to theobromine, a substance found in the cacao plant and a key component of chocolate. We predict all its elements will be quickly devoured at a mad scientist or cooking show party. Start with 1 can each chocolate and vanilla frosting, 1 tube black frosting, 12 standard cupcakes, and 8 mini cupcakes. Place a few tablespoons of vanilla frosting in four small bowls. Use food coloring to tint one light blue, one dark blue, and one yellow. Leave the remaining bowl white. Transfer the frosting to separate ziplock bags and snip a corner from each. Frost, then pipe a letter onto each cupcake as shown. Arrange them on a platter. Cut eight 1 1/2-inch and 16 2-inch lengths of red licorice twist. Using a knife (an adult's job), make a slit in the side of each cupcake, then slide the licorice in place, using the shorter pieces to connect the small and large cupcakes.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Too-Cute Tutu

Photograph by Lucy Schaeffer

Too-Cute Tutu

Winning Reader: Antoinette Havercamp, Monroe, NY

Antoinette created a whole troupe of these tutu-topped treats for a young friend who was a dance enthusiast. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make 12 cupcakes, combine 1 cup white candy melts with 24 bright pink candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave according to the package directions. Transfer the candy to a squeeze bottle or place it in a ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Working on one leotard at a time, pipe a shape onto the sheet, then quickly press on several white pearl nonpareils. Let the candy set. Meanwhile, fill a pastry bag with vanilla frosting and fit it with a small, round tip (we used an Ateco #9). Pipe a tutu onto each cupcake as shown. If you like, press on a few nonpareils. To finish, slide the cooled leotards into the cupcakes.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Candy Castle

Photograph by Lucy Schaeffer

Candy Castle

Winning Reader: Lisa Gowins, Rockford, MI

Throw a celebration right out of a fairy tale with Lisa's dreamy marshmallow fortresses. Her towering treats are a perfect fit for a princess- or medieval-themed party. Use blue food coloring to tint vanilla frosting (we used about 2 cups to decorate a dozen cupcakes). Reserve a few tablespoons untinted in a ziplock bag; snip off a corner when you're ready to make the castle. For each cupcake, first use a black food writer to decorate marshmallows as shown. Working with one cupcake at a time, add a generous layer of blue frosting (we used a flat Ateco #104 tip). Assemble the castle by joining the marshmallows and white chocolate chips with dots of the untinted frosting.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Party Animals

Photograph by Lucy Schaeffer

Party Animals

Invite any member of this trio to your next wild rumpus: a zoo or safari party, say, or a circus-themed gathering. Assembling the chocolate-eyed creatures is a piece of cake!

Winning Reader (Hedgehog): Josie Gowen, Prairie Village, KS

Nine-year-old Josie really likes hedgehogs. She designed these pretzel-topped cuties as a sweet tribute. Break off the ends of pretzel sticks and place them in a bowl. Blend a small amount of chocolate frosting into vanilla frosting to make a light brown shade (we mixed two tablespoons chocolate with two cups vanilla for 12 cupcakes). Working with one cupcake at a time, apply a generous layer of frosting, then insert about two dozen pretzel quills. Add chocolate chip eyes and a mini black jelly bean nose.

Winning Reader (Zebra): Cristina Ribeiro, Greenwich, CT

Cristina was inspired to make these charming zebras for her son Oliver's first birthday. For each cupcake, use a serrated knife to trim a chocolate wafer cookie into a snout (we used Famous Chocolate Wafers) and cut two 1-inch lengths of black licorice twist. Working with one cupcake at a time, apply a generous layer of vanilla frosting (we used about 2 cups on a dozen cupcakes), then press on chocolate chip eyes, the snout, and the licorice twist ears. When all the faces are assembled, pipe on the stripes using black frosting in a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off. Use more black frosting to attach mini chocolate chip nostrils to each snout.

Winning Reader (Elephant): Glynis Rich, Monroe, NJ

Each year, Glynis bakes a batch of whimsically decorated cupcakes for her granddaughter's birthday. These candy-eared pachyderms were her first. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. To make 12 cupcakes, combine 1 cup white candy melts with 16 blue candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave according to the package directions. Transfer the candy to a squeeze bottle or place it in a ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Pipe two pairs of ears and two trunks (ours were each about 2 1/2 inches long) onto the sheet. To smooth the surface of the shapes, snip a small square of parchment paper, lay it on top of the candy, then gently pat the paper in place until the candy is slightly flattened. Let the candy set, then peel away the paper. Repeat with the remaining candy until you've piped 24 ears and 12 trunks. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, tint vanilla frosting with blue food coloring (we used about 2 cups frosting for a dozen cupcakes). Working with one cupcake at a time, apply a generous layer of frosting. Press on a candy trunk and ears, mini chocolate chip eyes, and licorice pastel tusks.

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Snow Cone Cupcakes

Levi Brown

Snow Cone Cupcakes

Our "snow cone" cupcakes are the perfect foil for frosty temps. Make 'em in secret for a sweet surprise. 

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Set 10 flat-bottom ice-cream cones upright in a muffin tin, using aluminum foil to keep them in place. 
2. Make your favorite boxed cake mix per box instructions. Fill each cone 3⁄4 full with batter. Bake until centers set, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool.
3. Blend 4 cups prepared frosting and 2 cups confectioners' sugar to make a very stiff icing. Spread it on the cupcakes and shape into a tall mound.
4. Place about 1⁄2 pound of rock candy into a zip-top bag, squeeze out the air, and seal. On a protected surface, with a hammer, pound the candy into pieces. Pour the pieces into a bowl, then roll the iced cupcake in them to cover.
5. Wrap the cones with scrapbook paper (use the template at familyfunmag.com/printables) and secure with tape. Enjoy!