I feel like I’ve gotten away from baking cupcakes lately. Maybe because it’s all been done? I don’t tend to get too crazy trying new flavours or techniques, and there are only so many ways to blog about chocolate (“No!!”) or vanilla (“Really?!”) cupcakes. It’s a bit like watching someone’s really terrible vacation slideshow.
Whatever my reason, conscious or unconscious, I decided to make some mummy cupcakes for Halloween. And this time I did exactly what I didn’t want to do the last time I made them: I broke down and bought candy eyeballs by Wilton. In my defense, I saw no less a baking authority than Anna Olson use them. I can’t explain why, but I tend to trust her far more than I do most of those soi-disant “experts” on the Food Network – she actually seems to know what she’s doing. If these little shaped sprinkles (as the package describes them) were good enough for her, well, they’d be more than adequate for my purposes.
Adorable, right? My frosting process was thus: fitted with a basketweave tip, I first piped a strip across the cupcake to secure the eyes, and then added my bandages in what I hoped was a random pattern. I didn’t want to paint on a bloody-looking mouth this time, so I left negative space instead to let my dark-chocolate cake show through. Did you know that it’s really, really hard to randomly generate the mouth shape you’re hoping for? After the first couple, I started outlining the mouth before adding my bandages – only to discover that my cupcakes looked like they were wearing blackface. Ugh! Some of them look truly horrified at that unhappy coincidence; luckily the end product turned out completely inoffensive.
All was well until I stored the uneaten cupcakes in the fridge to be consumed the next day: when I pulled them out, some of them had arbitrarily dilated pupils – usually just one, but not every single mummy had that problem. I assumed that somewhere in the room temperature-to-refrigerated-to-room temperature cycle, condensation had formed and dripped on some eyes. They were kind of ugly, but still tasted fine.
A few days later, I made a batch of vanilla funfetti cupcakes for a friend’s birthday, and was able to use more of my candy eyes to Minion-ize them.
(You’re not losing your mind; those are two different sizes of eyeballs.)
These guys made me smile so much, and I was determined to keep them looking good, so I kept them well away from the fridge. But lo, by the next morning, some of my Minions were afflicted with the same ocular disorder that had plagued my mummies.
(I am so, so glad that I decorated these the day of his little birthday soirée, and that only the leftovers got bug-eyed.)
Having seen this happen with no significant temperature change, I can only guess that it’s not a condensation/temperature issue; rather, once the icing softens the eyes a bit, the pupils bleed.
Has anybody else had this problem with the Wilton eyes? Or is there some trick to keeping the eyes looking (ha!) the way they should, short of using them immediately before serving? At $4 a pack, I don’t think it’s worth fighting over, but I’m going to have to think long and hard before buying them again.
Oh, well. Thanks for – ha, ha – looking. 🙂