I saw the idea for cactus cupcakes from this beautiful baby shower. And while I love the idea of purchasing professionally made cactus cupcakes, buying cupcakes can sometimes be expensive or just not available in every town. I began to wonder if it was possible to DIY the project at home. Thus, this cactus cupcake how-to was born!
These little cupcakes might not have all the class as hand baking each macaroon to size; however, I have to say the shortcut route of buying readymade macaroons from my local Trader Joes and decorating was pretty easy to do and turned out pretty cute!
Cactus Cupcake Recipe
- A batch of your favorite cupcakes
(I used a simple box yellow cake mix, but these look like they would be amazing.)
- A batch of buttercream frosting. I made this one, but didn’t add any milk, so it was thick for macaroon decorating.
- Cupcake liners
- Cookie crumbs. I blended oreo cookies for mine.
- Green food coloring. I used this, which I found at Michaels.
- Basic red food coloring
- Two small circular cookie cutters like smallest two in this set
- White macaroons. I just bought a few packages of the frozen vanilla and chocolate ones from Trader Joes 🙂
01. Make cupcakes and let cool.
02. Make a batch of frosting.
03. While making frosting, freeze macaroons for at least 10 minutes (if not already frozen).
04. Take out macaroons. Plan to keep some macaroons uncut, one for each cupcake as the base of the cactus. Then cut the rest of the macaroons with cookies cutters, enough macaroons for each cupcake to have at least one cactus “branch.” (I don’t know what to call this? An areole?) The smallest cookie cutter got two out of each macaroon for me.
Push out of cookie cutters, supporting front and back with fingers.
Then clean edges with fingers by pressing lightly all the way around.
05. Mix a very small amount of water and vanilla extract together. Then paint the macaroons green, one side at a time, by dipping the brush in the food coloring and adding the water-vanilla mixture.
06. Scoop some of the frosting into two sandwich bags (or piping bags!). Add pink/red food coloring to one of the bags, and refrigerate both frosting bags.
07. Work the frosting into one of the corners of the ziplock bag and cut the smallest corner off of the white frosting. Then pipe little dots on all of the macaroons.
08. Cut the corner again so you can pipe a large dot on the macaroon. Add the small macaroons to the cactus base, using the frosting as glue. Refrigerate to solidify.
09. Cut the corner of the pink frosting bag, small like the previous white frosting and pipe little flowers, by making five simple overlapping dots. Refrigerate while you prep the cupcakes.
10. Cut off the tops of the cupcakes. Eat the tops…I’m just kidding, maybe 😉
11. Add a tablespoon or so of milk to rest of the white frosting. Place frosting in another ziplock (or piping bag), cut the corner and pipe onto cupcakes. Don’t be afraid to add a thick layer; it helps the macaroons stand tall. Smooth frosting with a spatula into a mound.
The cupcakes should be low profile to help the cactus macaroons stand up.
11. Dip frosted cupcakes into cookie crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs on top and lightly pat to fill in any holes.
11. Finish by sticking cactus macaroon on top! Sink each macaroon in the frosting so it doesn’t fall over 😉 Enjoy!
I had a bunch of chocolate macaroons left over from the Trader Joes macaroon purchase. I love the idea of using the extra colored frosting to pipe little cacti and serve alongside the cupcakes!