Nutcracker Cupcakes

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Welcome to Cupcake Fables where the Nutcracker prince starts in The Land of Sweets but is soon gobbled up by hungry children. At first glance these Nutcrackers appear daunting, but they're actually simple to make. Instead of looking at the whole, examine each cupcake: none of the individual designs are difficult. The best tip is to get everything in place before starting: cupcakes, icing, candies, cookies, and tools -- and then begin your decorating adventure.

Directions

  1. Tint 1/2 cup of the vanilla frosting a pale pink with the food colouring. Tint 1/4 cup of the frosting yellow and spoon into a ziplock bag. Spoon 1/2 cup of the vanilla frosting and the 1/4 cup of chocolate frosting into separate ziplock bags; set aside.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Spoon each colour sugar into a separate shallow bowl. Cut the pirouette cookies crosswise, with a serrated knife, into six 2 inch pieces. Heat the corn syrup in a small bowl in the microwave until boiling, about 5 seconds. Working on 2 cookie pieces at a time, brush cookies with the warm corn syrup and roll in sugar to cover completely to make 2 cookies of each colour to be used as the arms. Snip a small corner from the bag with the vanilla frosting. Pipe a dot of frosting at one end of each cookie and attach the white gum balls to make the hands. Place on the cookie sheet and let set about 30 minutes.
  3. Using a serrated knife cut 1/4 inch from either side on a slight angle of 3 of the thin chocolate cookies to make the hat. Cut 1/2 inch from either side of the 2 remaining cookies to make the brims, and trim 1/4 inch from each corner. Cut the remaining cookie into 6ths, like a pie, to use as support for the hair. Cut the pink wafers in half. Trim 1/8 inch from either side of the white wafers to make the mouths. Cut the pink gum balls in half to make the cheeks.
  4. Spread the tops of 3 of the cupcakes with the pink frosting to make the heads. Insert the pink wafers, rounded edge up, to make the nose in the center of the cupcakes. Add the halved gum balls on either side of the nose to make the cheeks. Add the white wafers to make the mouth, about 1/4 inch down from the nose. Insert the pointed end of 2 of the chocolate cookie pieces on either side of each cupcake -- this will support the vanilla frosting hair.
  5. Spread vanilla frosting on top of 6 of the cupcakes and smooth. Spread the tops of the remaining 9 cupcakes with the vanilla frosting to mound slightly. Roll the tops of the 9 slightly mounded cupcakes in the coloured sugars, 3 in each colour.
  6. To assemble the nutcrackers, place 3 sugared cupcakes of the same colour on a serving platter to make the body, 2 side by side and 1 underneath, touching each other. Place the pink frosted head cupcake above the 2 sugared cupcakes and a vanilla frosted cupcake above that for the hat. Place a vanilla cupcake below the sugared cupcakes for the feet (see photo). Repeat with the other cupcakes to make 3 nutcrackers.
  7. Snip a small corner from each of the bags with the frostings. Using a dot of vanilla frosting to secure, attach the sugared cookie arms, vertically with the gumball ends toward the feet, on either side of the 2 sugared cupcakes.
  8. Pipe dots of vanilla and attach the blue candies as the eyes. Pipe pupils and eye lids on top of the blue candies and pipe teeth on the white wafer with the chocolate frosting. Increase size of cut corner on the chocolate bag and pipe the eyebrows and mustache. Starting on the outside edge, pipe the side hair and beard, overlapping rows, with the vanilla frosting.
  9. Add the trimmed chocolate cookies as the hat and brim on top of the top vanilla frosted cupcake.
  10. Arrange the chocolate almonds, narrow ends facing each other, at the bottom of the base vanilla frosted cupcake. Trim 2 chocolate covered cookies to fit vertically, side by side, on cupcake to make the boots. Place a whole chocolate covered cookie, horizontally, on the sugared cupcakes to make the belt.
  11. Pipe lines of yellow frosting on hat and chest. Pipe yellow fringe on top edge of sugared cookie and add the yellow candies. Pipe dots along either side of chest and attach the mini yellow candies for buttons. Add a mini yellow candy on top of the hat where the lines of yellow frosting meet. Pipe yellow dots of frosting on top of the cookie boots and in the center of the belt and attach mini yellow candies.

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