Tinting sugar

Photo: Alan Richardson

The Sugar Shake
We love working with ingredients from the pantry. It makes cupcaking so easy. We take sugar, sprinkles and coconut from our cupboard shelves and tint them vibrant colors using neon food coloring right from the grocer's shelves. One of the ways we use the tinted sugar is to coat the sticky, cut side of marshmallows to create easy flower petals for our cupcake mums.

Use sanding sugar, decorating sugar, granulated sugar or coconut right from the pantry. Place the sugar in a resealable bag or snap-shut plastic container. Add a few drops of food coloring (preferably neon food colors), snap or zip the container shut and shake to create vibrant colors for decorating cupcakes. Spread the tinted sugar on a sheet of waxed paper to dry, and you are ready to decorate your cupcakes.

Get the recipe for Mum's the Word Cupcakes
Filling bag

Photo: Alan Richardson

Zip It
Convenience products like resealable bags make cupcaking so easy. Not only are they great to use in place of a piping bag, but you can also use them to get the batter in your cupcake liners without making a big mess.

Use freezer-weight bags to be sure and keep the frosting in the bag and not all over you. Invert the bag over your hand, make a cup in the center of the bag and fill it with frosting. Pull the sides of the bag up over your hand and zip it shut. Snip a small corner from one corner of the bag, and you are ready to frost your cupcakes.

Get the recipe for Chinese Takeout Cupcakes
Bake sale pies

Photo: Alan Richardson

Be a Candy Detective
We choose candy and snacks that already have shape, texture and color. It makes our job so much easier. By choosing the right candy, half of the work is already done for us. Then we get to sit back and listen to the oohs and ahhs. For this project, we chose candies that already look like little cherries and blueberries. All we had to do was create a frosting lattice crust and call them Bake Sale Pies!

Place the red or blue candies on top of a frosted cupcake, side by side, to give the effect of of cherry or blueberry fruit in a pie. Then, pipe a lattice top and give it a crusty edge with cocoa-tinted frosting from a resealable bag.

Get the recipe for Bake Sale Pies
Cupcake with pattern

Photo: Alan Richardson

Copy Your Favorite Patterns
Study a pattern, and you are sure to find inspiration for decorating cupcakes. This is perfect for parties; everything from showers to sweet 16s and weddings. Find a fabric or paper pattern you love and then look closely to find the candy in the pattern. The real beauty comes when you use the same design for your napkins, tablecloths and centerpiece.

Choose a pattern that reminds you of a candy shape or color. We chose a blue on brown pattern we knew would be fun to replicate in pale blue Sunny Seed Drops and pale blue frosting. Another pattern we chose looked just like M&M's on a background of cocoa-tinted frosting.