Ready to spread a little holiday cheer? Then bust out these awww-inspiring Snowy Owl Cupcakes at your next potluck, lunch with officemates, bake sale at your kids’ school, or even at holiday dinner itself. Sure, the chocolate-coconut combo is bound to please a broad range of palates, but let’s face it: this cupcake recipe is really about those adorable little owl faces, complete with “feathers” and curious, buggy eyes. And did we mention the sparkly edible glitter?
We think this is the perfect holiday recipe for several reasons: the cupcakes are uncomplicated to make and use common ingredients; they’re homemade, so they don’t contain all the trans fats and chemicals that are present in store-bought mixes; and because they’re low-profile—no tall three-dimensional frosting or decorations here—they travel well in a cake or cupcake container, or, in a pinch, even a muffin tin.
And the kicker: these snowy owl cupcakes look like they took hours to make, but they’re really pretty quick once you get into a decorating groove. (You can also enlist the help of family or visiting friends, assembly-line style, with the frosting, coconut dipping, and parts of the decorating.) Also, see sparkly edible glitter.
Break out the mixing bowls, spatulas, and linen towels or napkins, and let’s get to it.
Snowy Owl Cupcakes
Recipe by Sarah Bessette
Note: You can find edible googly eyes, edible glitter, and edible gel pen at most craft stores, and the gel pens and orange frosting are also available at most grocery stores.
For the cupcakes:
- 1 1/2 cups pastry flour
- 1 cup refined sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup canola or coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
For the frosting
- 6 egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 2 cups unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
For the topping
- 1 bag finely grated unsweetened coconut
- 1 package edible googly eyes
- 1 package edible white glitter
- 1 package of edible gel pen cake and cookie decorators
- 1 tube orange frosting with a fine tip
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line with a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups.
2. To make the cupcakes, in a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, vanilla, vinegar, and water until smooth. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients well, but only until no lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Pour the batter evenly into the muffin cups, filling each halfway. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool.
4. To make the frosting, beat the egg yolks until fluffy; set aside. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, mix the sugar and corn syrup. Stir constantly until it comes to a boil, then immediately transfer the mixture into glass measuring cup. Pour a small amount at a time, about every 5 seconds or so, into the egg yolks, until completely mixed. Keep beating the mixture until it has cooled completely. Gradually add the butter, a teaspoon at a time (this is important to keep the mixture from curdling). Add the vanilla, and beat until combined. Frost the cooled cupcakes.
5. To top the cupcakes, pour a few cups of grated coconut into a bowl. Dip the tops of the frosted cupcakes to coat them with coconut. Sprinkle with edible glitter.
6. Place a small dot of buttercream frosting on the underside of an edible googly eye, and affix it just to the left of center of the cupcake. Repeat with another googly eye, this time just to the right of center.
7. Use the orange frosting to draw an upside-down V shape for the beak, directly underneath the eyes.
8. Draw the rims of the owl’s eyes, first with silver gel pen, around both googly eyes in an oval shape (with a small dip in the middle), with both ends meeting at the beak. Repeat with a colored gel pen, partially overlapping the first rim.