Hello everyone!! I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve been a tad bit obsessed with succulent plants lately. These plants are so weirdly shaped. I love it. In order to show exactly how obsessed I am, I made succulent plant cupcakes!!!!!
I started with simple chocolate cupcakes (recipe below), and then I hollowed them out using an apple corer. I kept the pieces of cake and crumbled them up, combined it with graham crumbs and set aside. Afterwards I dipped each cupcake in chocolate ganache (about 100g semi-sweet chocolate chips and 100mL heavy cream) so I could add the cake/graham crumb mixture to the cakes.
I then made chocolate pastry cream (recipe below) and filled each hole with the pastry cream, then got started on my Swiss meringue buttercream. I would have made Italian meringue buttercream, but my sugar thermometer ran out of batteries and Swiss meringue buttercream is usually a lot less risky to make without a thermometer. I ended up dyeing about half of my buttercream a leafy green, a third into dark pink, and a small amount into tan brown. I did this using food colouring and extra chocolate ganache. I made sure to keep a little bit of white buttercream as well in order to make spikes on the cacti.
I don’t know any technical terms of cacti or succulents, so my apologies in advance. In order to make these succulents, I used a large French star tip, a small half moon tip, and a small petal tip with a slightly rounded top edge. I used the french star tip for all the cactus-type piping designs. The petal tip was for the succulents that look more like closed flowers, and the half-moon tip was for the long aloe vera shaped succulents.
I piped the cacti by drawing my French piping tip as high as it could go from the cupcake, and then piping smaller, rounder-type cacti around it. The succulents that look like flowers can be compared to making a buttercream rose, except with tighter petals and a closed off middle. Lastly, the aloe vera-looking succulents were made by using the half-moon tip and creating long grass like leaves that get smaller towards the middle.
Feel free to mix and match your buttercream colours in the piping bag to create multicoloured succulents. I usually chose two colours when filling a bag, but go crazy and do what you like. Adding more colours just makes it more realistic.
So anyways, here are the recipes below and I hope you try this out!
Simple Chocolate Cupcakes
This makes a dozen large cupcakes.
90g (4/5 cup) soft butter
175g (7/8 cup) sugar
41g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
195 mL (7/8 cup) milk
137g (1 cup) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
- Line your cupcake tin with liners.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Cream the butter and sugar, in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, scraping the sides between each egg. Beat until pale and fluffy.
- Sift and whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
- Combine your milk, vanilla extract, in a separate bowl or measuring cup.
- Add half of your flour into the butter mixture, and beat on low speed until the flour is absorbed into the butter. Be careful not to over mix. About 15 seconds.
- Add in your liquid ingredients and mix on low speed for another 15 seconds. The mixture should be chunky and very liquidy.
- Add in the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing on a low speed at first until everything starts to come together, and then beat it on high speed for 30 seconds in order to fully combine the ingredients. Hand-fold the rest of the mixture to get any butter stuck at the bottom of the bowl.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 min or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Decorate and serve immediately.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 large egg whites
205g (1 cup) sugar
275g (1-1/4 cup) butter
1 tsp vanilla
- Heat the egg whites and sugar in a bowl on top of small saucepan with an inch of simmering water (a water bath or “bain marie”), whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved completely (check this by rubbing a little bit between your fingers) and the mixture feels slightly hot to the touch.
- Transfer to a stand mixer and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form or the meringue is cooled to the touch.
- Add in soft butter in small chunks until full incorporated. It may start to curdle at first, but keep whipping until the meringue and the butter come together.
- Add in vanilla extract or flavouring of your choice.
Note: this recipe is very similar to making an Italian meringue buttercream, but without the hot sugar syrup. For more details and troubleshooting tips feel free to check out my blog post on Italian Meringue buttercream.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
3 egg yolks
60g (1/3 cup) sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee
30g (2 tbsp) cornstarch
300g (1-1/4 cup) milk
30g (2 tbsp) soft butter
- Mix your egg yolks, sugar, cocoa powder, and instant coffee in a medium stainless steel bowl. Set aside.
- Bring your milk to a soft boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Once the milk begins to simmer, pour or ladle a little bit into the egg mixture and whisk immediately. Add small amounts of milk at a time while mixing the egg mixture in order to temper the eggs without cooking the eggs.
- Once you have about a third of the milk incorporated into the egg mixture, pour it all into the saucepan and return to heat.
- Whisk constantly over medium heat to prevent uneven cooking, until the mixture starts to boil, and let it boil for 2 min, whisking the entire time or until the mixture is thickened.
- Add in your soft butter and stir to combine. Put it into a wide bowl or sheet pan with plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream, in order to prevent a skin forming when it cools.
- Refrigerate until completely cooled, then use it in cakes, cupcakes, tarts, etc.