Add a little splash of colour and magic to your next celebration with these unicorn cupcakes – they’re simple to make and a great way to get your kids involved in baking. Our article has step by step instructions with pictures for how to make unicorn cupcakes and other fun party cakes.
You will need a 12 cup muffin tray, 12 muffin cases, a 7.5cm/3in diameter circular pastry cutter and a piping bag with a small star tip nozzle.
For the sponge
- 200g/7oz salted butter, at room temperature
- 200g/7oz caster sugar
- 4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 1½ tbsp vanilla extract
- 200g/7oz self-raising flour
- 100g/3½oz multi-coloured sprinkles or funfetti
For the buttercream
Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.
To make the cupcakes, beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a handheld electric whisk on a high speed until pale and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the eggs bit by bit, mixing on high speed after each addition. Add the vanilla, then add half of the flour. Mix until combined, then add the rest of the flour and mix until you have a smooth cake batter. Add the sprinkles and fold them through with a spatula.
Divide the cake batter between the 12 muffin cases using an ice cream scoop or two spoons. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning after 17 minutes so they colour evenly. Some cupcakes may bake more quickly than others so don’t be afraid to remove some from the oven earlier than others. Remember to remove the cupcakes from the tin once they are out of the oven, otherwise the cases may steam off. Leave to cool on a wire rack while you make the buttercream. Once cool, place the cupcakes in the freezer for 10 minutes – it’ll make them easier to work with when decorating.
To make the buttercream, place the salted butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Sift the icing sugar on top, bring the mixture together at a low speed, then beat at high speed for a few minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
Put a generous spoon of buttercream on each cupcake, and smooth around with a small palette knife to make a dome. Set aside the remaining buttercream.
To make the decorations, mix the icing sugar and cornflour together in a bowl. Dust your palm with the cornflour mixture and use that to smooth the cupcake domes. Repeat this for all the cupcakes.
Dust a clean work surface with some more of the cornflour mixture and roll out the white fondant icing to 4mm/ ¼in thick. Cut a circle of fondant with the 7.5cm/3in diameter circular pastry cutter and smooth it over the dome of the cupcake, gently stretching it down using your index finger. Repeat this for all 12 cupcakes then leave them to stand at room temperature.
Bring the remaining fondant back together and colour half of it with pink food colouring. On a surface dusted with the cornflour mixture, roll out both the pink and white fondant to 2mm/⅛in thick and cut out the ear shapes as shown in the picture. Use a tiny amount of water to stick the pink inner ear section to the white outer ear.
Use the scraps of pink fondant to make the horns. Take a ball of pink fondant the size of a walnut then roll it into a thin tube shape with tapered ends. Bend the tube in the middle to bring the ends together, then twist the ends around each other to make a spiral. Leave the decorations to dry overnight on greaseproof paper, or dry them out for 30 minutes in a 60C oven. Leave to cool, then brush the horns with the lustre dust or spray.
Add a dash of purple colouring to the remaining buttercream and mix until you have the desired colour. Fit the piping bag with the star nozzle and pipe swirls on the ‘forehead’ of a cupcake. Decorate with the horn and the ears, then scatter on the sprinkles. Do one cupcake at a time, otherwise the buttercream will dry out and the sprinkles won’t stick. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, then pipe on the eyes as shown in the picture, using writing icing or a fine brush dipped in food colouring, thinned out with water.
Make the decorations the day before in order to let them dry out. Also, store the finished cupcakes in containers where air can still circulate, such as paper pastry boxes. Sealed plastic tubs can encourage the cases to peel off. The edible lustre powder and black writing icing are normally available in larger supermarkets.