Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cupcake Creations

This is going to be long.  But there are pictures!  Lots of pictures...

At my library, we usually say that August is our down month for programming, as we try to take that month for vacations and to recoup after Summer Reading Madness.  For most of our department it was a relatively calm month.

Then there were my programs.

Most notably, this month I conducted three cupcake programs.  Open to students in 5th-12th grades, most of the attendees were middle school students.  I take registration for the program, as I need to know how many cupcakes and how much frosting to make.

This program is initially pricy, as cake decorating supplies are necessary.  However, not including the reusable materials, the cost worked out to about $3 per child attending.

When I first did this program last year, I used some of my personal supplies, not wanting to purchase the items for the library if the programs weren’t successful.  Once I knew that it was a hit, I went to a craft store and bought the following reusable materials:

  • Cake frosting dyes – eventually they will run out, but they will last for many programs.  Wilton has a set with 12 colors that is perfect.
  • Frosting tips and couplers – I bought around 18 tips, with several duplicates and supplemented with my own (for now).  I bought a dozen couplers. I recommend having at least two of the following:
    • No. 5 Round Decorating Tip
    • No. 12 Round Decorating Tip
    • No. 18 Open Star Decorating Tip
    • No. 21 Open Star Decorating Tip
    • No. 224 Drop Flower Decorating Tip
    • No. 233 Multi-Opening Decorating Tip (for grass, hair, yarn)
    • No. 230 Round Decorating Tip (used for filling cupcakes – something nearly all want to do!)

Have some other assorted tips as well.  If you have it, they will use it! But don’t go smaller than No. 5, as the frosting won’t be able to flow through the smaller tips.

Other supplies that will be needed:
  • Plastic cups (to distribute frosting)
  • Plastic spoons (to mix coloring in frosting)
  • Disposable decorating bags (so much easier for cleanup!)
  • Toothpicks (to put dye in frosting)
  • Scissors
  • Paper plates
  • Paper towels

Some other tidbits:

  • Each attendee gets to decorate two cupcakes
  • Plan to make at least 2 batches of frosting per 4 attendees.  Yes, it is a lot, but they will want to use a lot of frosting (or just eat it).  Unused frosting can be frozen up to two months.  Just thaw in the fridge, bring to room temp, then rewhip.
  • I provide a copy of the buttercream frosting recipe so they can make it at home. 
  • Cupcakes can be decorated with nearly any type of edible item.  Cereal, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, gum drops, sprinkles, coconut, taffy, other candies, cookies…the list goes on and on.  
  • There are a ton of great resources and ideas online and in books.  I've collected many web sources on my Cupcakery Pinterest board.

There are two important rules that I tell the kids:

  1. DO NOT double dip the toothpicks in the frosting dyes.  That is just asking for a science experiment to grow. 
  2. Have fun. 

I usually repeat that first rule about a million times over the course of the program.

Buttercream Frosting recipe
1 cup shortening, butter or margarine (I use shortening)
1 pound powdered sugar
7-8 teaspoons milk or water (I use skim milk)
1-2 teaspoons flavoring (for the program I use vanilla…and usually put about 3 teaspoons.  At home I use a mixture of almond and vanilla flavorings).

Put all ingredients in bowl and mix until fully combined.  If the frosting is too thick, add more liquid 1/2 teaspoon at a time.

Some setup photos:

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