Who doesn't love cupcakes? They are a fun, festive treat for almost any occasion, and are portion controlled, to boot!
If you are anything like me, though, the hardest part of making cupcakes (or cakes, for that matter), comes when it is time to decorate them. For that reason, most of my cake, cupcake and cookie decorating is limited to the basic “cover it with frosting and/or sprinkles” variety. This was why I was so excited to be asked to test out a new product from ticings.com – cupcake appliqués.
Cupcake appliqués are basically edible stickers cut to the perfect size for decorating cupcakes, and ticings.com offers designs for standard cupcakes, mini cupcakes, and even for full-sized cakes. They offer a variety of designs, perfect for almost any occasion that you have. They even offer an option of creating custom appliqués, created from customer-provided artwork.
I was impressed with the company right from the start. They sent the sample sheets to me very quickly, in an envelope made from recycled paper (I love a company that shows environmental responsibility). In addition to the appliqués, they also included clear directions, a suggested frosting recipe, and a friendly introductory letter with specific contact information, should I have any questions.
My kitchen helper (age 4) and I soon set to work. The directions indicated that the appliqués work best on as flat a surface as you can manage, and that they show up best on white or light frosting. My helper chose chocolate for the cupcakes, and we made a simple buttercream frosting.
The hardest part of the process was making a flat, level surface for the appliqués. I tried under-filling my cupcake tins a little bit, but still ended up with nicely domed cupcake tops. As they cooled, they deflated a little bit, but were still not flat. Rather than cutting the tops to level them, I used my frosting to try to build up a flat surface. Once I had my surface as smooth and flat as I could make it, it was time to decorate.
The appliqués were very easy to remove from their backing and apply – my helper had so much fun, she could hardly wait for each cupcake to be frosted to have the next “cupcake sticker” ready to apply. The appliqués themselves are not sticky, so we had to be careful not to remove more from the backing paper than we were prepared to use (you can't re-apply them to the backing paper), but that is probably mostly an issue when working with an impatient preschool sous-chef...
Applying the appliqués was just as easy. The design is simply centered over the cupcake and placed on top of the frosting. We had to be careful to smooth the edges gently to remove any air bubbles, but there was no trick to them – a simple stick and light press, and we had instant decorations!
It was interesting to see the cupcakes with the appliqués on them – I felt that I could really see the distinct outline of each appliqué on the frosting, but still, they really looked quite fun and festive. The instructions indicate that, if desired, you can embellish the cupcake with a decorative frosting border or sprinkles. I decided to see how they would look with additional buttercream stars piped around the appliqués. This had the double benefit of hiding the seam between the appliqué and the frosting surface and adding an extra decorative flourish to the cupcakes.
Once all of our cupcakes were finished, though, it was time to put these to the real test – how are they to eat? Watching them go on, I had no idea how the eating process would go. I know that sounds a little funny, but think about it – a sticker on a cupcake? Would my teeth cut through it easily? Would the whole appliqué slide off with the first bite? Would the appliqué affect the taste of the cupcake or the frosting?
I was very pleased to discover that the appliqués had absolutely no affect on the taste, texture or bite-ability of the cupcakes. Especially after allowing the decorated cupcakes to sit for just a bit, and thus for the appliqués to have time to fully adhere to the frosting, we couldn't feel any difference between biting into a plain frosted cupcake and one with an appliqué on it.
The directions indicate that the decorated cupcakes can be stored for several days, or frozen for several weeks, but we did not have the opportunity to find that out for ourselves, as we enjoyed the taste testing portion of trying these appliqués as much as the actual process of applying them.
Overall, we really enjoyed this product. These appliqués are a very fun and easy way for those of us without fine-art abilities to add beautiful, fun, festive decorations to fresh baked goods. The variety of designs, themes and sizes available through the ticings.com website mean that you can decorate your baked goods (cakes, cupcakes, even cookies!) for pretty much any season, holiday or event that you want to celebrate.