This coming Friday, Sept. 28th, my daughter’s preschool is hosting a family movie night featuring the movie, The Lorax. I was asked to make Lorax themed cupcakes for the event. I was very excited to help out, but had one big problem - I had no idea what a Lorax looked like. After some research I decided to make the brightly colored Lorax trees.
The whole process has been fairly easy, with one exception – the tree tops. I knew the best way to make the actual tree tops was by using brightly colored cotton candy. I got lucky and found a candy supplier right here in Atlanta who specializes in cotton candy. Atlanta Concessions & Catering had every color and flavor of cotton candy you can imagine.
I decided on the grape (purple), lemon (yellow), orange, and bubble gum (pink) flavors to make the trees with. What’s great about Atlanta Concessions is they ship anywhere in the United States and they are very reasonably priced.
For the base of the cupcakes I used a recipe from a different cookbook. A great little bakery in Savannah, GA called Back in the Day Bakery recently released a cookbook and I decided to use their recipe for Old-Fashioned Vanilla Cupcakes. They turned out very nicely. The recipe is a little different; you don’t cream the butter in the batter, instead you treat it like you were making a pie crust and cut it in with your mixer. In the end, the batter was delicious and the cupcakes turned out light, fluffy and very tasty.
To make the trees I used Snyder’s of Hanover Old Fashioned Dipping Sticks. They’re about three times thicker than the regular pretzel sticks and they look just like the base of a tree. For the grass, I tinted our buttercream frosting with Wilton Leaf Green Concentrated Paste and used the Wilton #133 tip.
The one thing you need to be very careful of is the actual assembling of the trees. Something I just learned when I made a sample round is that cotton candy dissolves within an hour of being exposed to air. I made some samples for the school to try and by the time lunch rolled around all the trees had shrunk into little balls. So, you either have to have the trees wrapped in plastic or assemble the trees right before serving. AUGH! But hey, they’re so darn cute.
Your favorite Chick from the South – Jamie
Old-Fashioned Vanilla Cupcakes
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups cake flour
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup butter, room temp, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 large eggs, room temp
1. Position lower rack to the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Line 30 cupcake cups with paper liners.
2. In a large measuring cup, mix together the milk and vanilla; set aside.
3. To prepare batter, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a hand-held mixer), combine both flours, sugar, baking powder and salt; mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until thoroughly combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the cubed butter a few pieces at a time, mixing for about 2 minutes, until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
4. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Turn the speed to low and gradually add the milk and vanilla, and then mix for another 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, incorporate any ingredients hiding at the bottom of the bowl, making sure the batter is completely mixed.
6. With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.
Green Buttercream Frosting:
1 1/4 cups butter or shortening at room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Wilton Leaf Green Concentrated Paste
1. In a medium bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.
2. Add powdered sugar and milk in alternating additions, beating well after each addition.
3. Add vanilla; mix until frosting is smooth.
4. Using the tip of a sharp knife, add enough green food coloring until you reach your desired shade of greeen. (Remember to go light, you can always add more.)