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Thursday
Apr022009

Sweet Nostalgia: Cotton Candy Cupcakes

Carnie Cotton Candy Cupcakes
When a CakeSpy reader recently wrote asking if we had a cotton candy cupcake recipe, the response was immediate: no, but did we ever want to have one. 

Cotton candy is one of those foods that is loaded with nostalgia: the billowy clouds of spun sugar conjure visions of idyllic childhood summers, county fairs and carnivals. Now, we don't want to confuse the experience with the product, (after all, there are more realistic pitfalls to cotton candy, like its saccharine sweetness and the sticky, pastel-colored hands it leaves you with) there's no denying that cotton candy is just a happy sort of food.
So when a recipe wasn't immediately available, we decided to improvise; here's what we came up with--a buttery vanilla cupcake topped with cotton candy-infused pink buttercream frosting, topped with even more cotton candy. Not as if they need to be any sweeter, but the Bella Cupcake Couture wrappers and Carnie Cuppie toppers sure did make them cute. 
The overall result? Tastes like childhood to us.

Cotton Candy Cupcakes
Cotton Candy Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
Yellow Cupcakes (cake recipe only via foodnetwork.com):
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • cupcake liners


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

 

In a mixer with a whip attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to cream. Gradually add the vanilla and eggs and mix in well. Sift together the dry ingredients; then mix into the butter mixture alternating with the milk. Pour batter into cupcake paper-lined muffin tins filling them 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and firm in the center and light golden brown on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool. (Freeze at this point, if necessary.)

Cotton Candy!Cotton Candy Frosting
Cotton Candy Buttercream Frosting (adapted from this recipe)

Makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • 1 handful cotton candy (we used this prepackaged kind), broken into small pieces, plus another handful for garnish
  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.
  3. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.
  5. Add a few drops of red food coloring and mix thoroughly til it's a desired shade of pink.
  6. Stir in the small pieces of cotton candy, stirring until incorporated. It may melt a little bit into the frosting; this is ok.
  7. Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled. 
  8. Optional topping: tear off chunks of cotton candy and use as garnish; do this last step  immediately before serving, because it will wilt if left out.

 

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Reader Comments (47)

Those toppers are incredible!!

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterDestini

Aw, you're sweet! I just printed out a painting I did a while back via flickr and cut them out and glued them to toothpicks!

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

What an adorable idea! I still have a soft spot for cotton candy. It reminds me of carnivals!

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

Oh my sugary sweet goodness...takes me back...I can almost smell the carnival!!

Ahh cotton candy and cupcakes, all in one!?! Amazing!

April 2 | Unregistered Commenterjodye

I had never heard of a cotton candy cupcake!! how cute :)
Wow...it's been a long time since I had some cotton candy (we call it Fairy Floss out here in Australia)...hmm...next time I go to the movies, I may have to buy myself some. Then work out twice as hard at the gym!! :)
And those toppers are too cute, Jessie!

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterLiv

I love cotton candy anything, ice cream , candy, gum I can only imagine I would love a cotton candy cupcake, I will have to try these!

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterManic Mother

I loved your idea...great for party, I'll will definitely try. Thanks!

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterJuliana

Oh my! I have to make these! I LOVE cotton candy, and it's my bestfriend's favorite sugary thing. And these wrappers... holy cow they are cute. I need to have a party just so I can make cupcakes and use these.

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterJaymie

Those are the cutest cupcakes ever! Love the wrappers.

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

What a cute idea! These might just be the ticket for my 5 year old's birthday this year. How festive and fun!

Don't know if you know, but they do make cotton candy flavoring. I've seen it at several online distributors. I'll try to incorporate it and see how it goes.

no way! how classic. great colors too.

April 2 | Unregistered Commenterveggievixen

I bet those were super sweet. I would have loved them as a kid though.

April 2 | Unregistered CommenterPeabody

Amazing - looks like something out of Candy Land!

OMG!! These are THE most adorable cupcake ever.. My children would sooo love them! LOVE, I tell you! Thank you, love your blog here.

April 3 | Unregistered CommenterDonna-FFW

These look like lovely little clouds of joy. I love them.

April 3 | Unregistered CommenterEliana

Brilliant idea putting the cotton candy in the frosting!

Awesome. They hand out cotton candy at a japanese restaurant near where we live, it's so fun!

April 3 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie

I am seriously FREAKING OUT over this recipe. I can't even believe how gorgeous and amazing they look.

Ok, time to tell the truth here. I don't like cotton candy. Never have. Still friends? ;)

love the beard cupcake!

April 3 | Unregistered Commenterhayancafe

MMMMMmmmmmmm ;) delicious and so cute!!! I love them!!!:)

April 4 | Unregistered Commenternellita

I am a cotton candy fanatic even my signature scent perfume smells like cotton candy. I love all things cotton candy especially ice cream now I am going to have to give this a try!

April 4 | Unregistered CommenterIntelligence

ohhh I LOVE cotton candy! your cupcakes look adorable. i know they have a cotton candy cupcake at crumbs in beverly hills, but i have yet to try it. maybe i'll get that on my next trip!

April 4 | Unregistered CommenterKim

How clever! You get bonus points for originality. I've never seen or heard of cotton candy cupcakes.

April 4 | Unregistered Commenteralice
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