Thanksgiving. The holiday of food, er giving thanks for life’s bounty. A few days to indulge in excess of food, family, travel and shopping--that is to say, a great holiday. No worrying about giving and getting presents: just a day to enjoy stuffing ourselves, making more room and saying thanks for that delicious turkey.
Back when I first started exploring baking creatively, I came across this idea for making Thanksgiving turkey cupcakes. At first I was a little skeptical because it looked like a lot of work and up to the point my decorating skills consisted of a butter knife and a slab of frosting from a can. But I couldn’t resist, and I found that these were really easy to make and so irresistibly cute. This is also a great thing to give kids something to do later in the day. They can assemble their turkeys and throw a turkey parade to rejoice for those birds that survived another year. Or the kids can make them ahead of time and you can use them as your table centerpiece. Just arrange on a platter and stick some flowers in between the cupcakes.
-makes 24 -
Note: For these cupcakes, the base and frosting can be pretty much whatever you want. I used a yellow cake recipe and tinted it with some orange food coloring. And I used a chocolate buttercream because, it’s brown like turkeys, and I really like yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Peanut butter frosting would be good too. Yum!
- 1 package of Nutter Butters
- 1 package of fruit roll ups, fruit leather or airheads. (starburst could even work here but would require more effort)
- Jumbo heart sprinkles (can be found at your local craft store or online)
- Bag of mini chocolate chips or mini M&Ms (you could use leftover Halloween candy, but who are we kidding? There is no such thing by now, right? Especially if you made this pie)
- Maple leaf cookie cutter (I used this set)
- Candy corn
- Cornstarch (for dusting)
- Powdered sugar
- Meringue Powder
- 24 cupcakes, baked but unfrosted
- Frosting (homemade or from a can – if you use a can, buy two)
- Piping bag or gallon plastic zipper bag
- Tip (I used a 1G Wilton tip)
- Optional: 100 Calorie packs (you may be wondering what the 100 calorie packs are for, you’ll see later on in the post!)
Got your ingredients? Good. Let's get started:
1. Make the feathers. Grab a cutting board and lightly dust with cornstarch. Unroll the fruit roll ups, separate the colors and lay them on the board. Dust a little more cornstarch on top. I also dust some on a concentrated area that I can use to dip in my cookie cutter. Note: I tried Fruit by the Foot and only realized after I’d opened it that they print images on the fruit strips so I couldn’t use that. Also if you are going to use Airheads or starbursts, you might need to microwave them, out of their packages, for a couple seconds to get them more pliable. Then you’ll need a rolling pin or glass with some cornstarch on it to thin them out. Your hands can work too.
2. Next, make some royal icing. I halve this recipe but I add a little bit more water, like an extra teaspoon.
3. Put the icing in a piping bag or zipper bag and cut a tiny bit off the tip so you have about a 1/8 of an inch size hole. I also slightly snip the seams on my pastry bags so that I get a circle when I squeeze instead of a line.
4. Grab a nutter butter. Pipe on two dots for the eyes and a dot with the line heading down the length of the cookie.
5. Stick the jumbo red heart with the pointy part up on the line of royal icing. Then place one mini chocolate chip on each dot you placed for the eyes.
6. Snap off the end of a piece of candy corn, leaving the white tip and little bit of the orange. Eat the remaining piece. (Shhh, I won’t tell). You might need to add some royal icing to the candy corn piece and then glue the bits together...but now you're finished!
7. Now make 23 more. (Patiently waiting)
8. Ok! On to frosting. Fit a piping bag or zipper bag with a tip. Or you can cut the tip of the bag in a + shape to get a similar shape in your frosting. Fill bag with frosting of your choice.
Swirl on the icing and then add a little edge of frosting. This is where the feathers will rest.
9. Pick up a turkey and stick him towards the front of the cupcake, into the cupcake. You can press a little hard here. Make sure he is in the cupcake and not just in the frosting.
10. Then start placing your feathers--I did 3 but you can do more if you like. Overlapping would look cool.
Extra Credit: So you may still be wondering about those 100 calorie snack bags in my early photo. I made baby turkeys! This is a great option if you want to utilize mini cupcakes as well.
1. Using the same method for the large nutterbutters, place two dots of royal icing on the cookie and add mini chocolate chips. Add another dot and either add another jumbo heart or for this one I used some leftover heart-shaped cinnamon red hots also purchased at my local craft store.
2. Frost a swirl of buttercream on top of the mini cupcake. Insert one of the baby turkeys, then add your feathers. I used a tear drop cutter for the baby turkey feathers. So cute!!
Now, your turkeys are ready to party!
About the Cake Gumshoe: Kristin Ausk owns Meringue Bake Shop, a custom cupcakery located in Orange County, California. She uses high quality ingredients, pop culture, and nostalgia to come up with unique and flavorful cupcakes. All of her cupcakes are made-to-order, so every cupcake you order was made just for you. Kristin’s love of baking began when she was 7 yrs old and entered a baking contest held by her local paper and won! (an honorable mention). But that only encouraged her more. And two years ago, at the request of her coworkers, friends, and family, she decided to turn her love into a side business. You’ll find her trying out new recipes in her kitchen with her husband, Lyle, and her two dogs, Klondike & Miles. Keep updated daily with her Twitter updates!