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Ladybug Cupcakes | www.tasteandtellblog.com

I think my daughter is teething. I don’t know why I am surprised every time she does something a little early. At 4 1/2 months, she’s already surprised me plenty. Smiling from basically day 1, being able to hold her head up in the first month, rolling over both ways just before the 3 month mark, and she’s getting her knees up underneath her and I know I’m going to turn around one day soon and she’ll be crawling already. I have a theory that she just doesn’t have any desire to be a baby and she just wants to grow up. (But she’s growing up way too fast for me – I wish she would slow down!) But the teething thing – it definitely threw a wrench in my day!

I had planned on making these Ladybug Cupcakes for the Cookbook of the Month recipe for this week. And when I do finally make a decision, I have my mind set and I don’t want to change plans. I had promised cupcakes for my church girls, so I set out to make these during the day on Wednesday. But Abbi wasn’t really having it. She wasn’t wanting to take her naps, and when she did, they would be for a very short time and then the crying would start. And then she wanted me to hold her non-stop all day, and she hasn’t been like that for a couple of months now. And of course I choose a labor intensive cupcake for the week!

To top it all off, I couldn’t find marzipan to make the ladybugs with, even after going to 3 stores. So I decided to make my own. Just one more step! But I finally got them done, and I was so happy with how they turned out! I think they are so cute!

A couple of notes about the recipes:

  • I was so excited when I took these cupcakes out of the oven because they were the most perfect from scratch cupcakes that I had ever made. But unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away by the flavor. They really don’t have a ton of flavor, but the frosting added quite a bit.
  • When I saw that the frosting for these was a Swiss meringue buttercream, I wondered how they got the grass so green in the picture in the book. (The same picture is on Martha’s website here.) And I’m still wondering. I added way more green food coloring than I wanted to, but I couldn’t get the grass any greener than I did.
  • The frosting is much the same as the strawberry frosting I made last week, minus the strawberries.
  • I think I made my ladybugs bigger than Martha’s, because they didn’t look right with more than 1 ladybug per cupcake. And I just didn’t have the patience to do a ton of spots, but I still think mine turned out cute.

I don’t really know how to rate this recipe, because based on taste alone, the score would be lower than if I factored in the cuteness. So the rating is a combination of both flavor and appearance!

Recipe Rating: 4 out of 5

Ladybug Cupcakes
from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes 36

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes (recipe follows)
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)
Red, green and black gel-paste food coloring
7 ounces marzipan (I couldn’t find any, so I made some using this recipe)
Cornstarch, for work surface

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

To Assemble

Tint buttercream green with gel-paste food color. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a small multi-opening tip (#233). Starting at the center and moving outward, pipe rows of grass on top of cupcakes: With tip on surface of cupcake, squeeze bag, then release while quickly pulling up to form 1/4-inch-long blades, making some slightly longer than others.

Form ladybugs: Divide marzipan in half. Working on a surface lightly dusted with cornstarch, tint one portion red and the other black with gel-paste food colors. Form a 1/2-inch ball of red marzipan for each ladybug body, and a 1/4-inch ball of black marzipan for each head. Flatten the red ball slightly into an oval shape, and press the head onto the body. Pinch off black marzipan to make tiny balls for the spots, and press onto the body. Repeat to make additional ladybugs with remaining marzipan. Place one or two ladybugs on top of each frosted cupcake, gently pressing them into the buttercream grass. Refrigerate 30 minutes to allow frosting to set. Cupcakes are best served the same day they are decorated; keep at room temperature.

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41 Responses to Cookbook of the Month Recipe – Ladybug Cupcakes

  1. kristina says:

    Your cupcakes look absolutely brilliant! Martha couldn't have done better herself. I think the grass looks lovely. Did you use a gel color for the green? Those are good for intense colors, as they color up quite quickly with just a dab. K x

  2. Kim - Easy French Food says:

    I came for the cheese but got sidetracked by these darling cupcakes. Aren't your church girls lucky? Take my word for it, one day you will look back on all you did and took care of your baby, and you will wonder how in the world did you manage that?

  3. Jean Bugs says:

    These are absolutely adorable!!! I have been so excited to see which cupcake you would choose.
    I hope Abbi is doing better soon…for both of your sakes! :-)

  4. Jingle says:

    Those are so cute! I really love making fun cupcakes!

  5. Katerina says:

    Wow you made your own marzipan ladybugs and they are so cute!

  6. Grace says:

    the cuteness factor with these is high, deborah. very nice. :)

  7. Maria says:

    I LOVE ladybugs, I have an obsession with them, they are just so cute:) So of course I am in love with your cupcakes, they are beyond adorable!! I need to check out that book!

  8. eatme_delicious says:

    Adorable!! Maybe the Martha Stewart ones were made with a different kind of food dye, like a powdered one or something? They also look kind of green/purple.

  9. Colleen says:

    These are so cute! You have way more patience than I do!

  10. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    So pretty! Those cute cupcakes are amazing!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  11. Janell says:

    CUTE! I only looked at Martha's cupcakes after I saw yours but I think I like yours better! Maybe it's just my computer but I thought her grass was too dark. Either way, the cupcakes are super cute and I wish I had a reason to make them :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    The green color might have been enhanced by the lighting. (They do the same thing in supermarkets to make things look appetizing.)

    Sandra

  13. Valerie says:

    Those are so cute! My youngest daughter loves lady bugs so I'll have to surprise her with them some time soon.

  14. Hillary says:

    Too cute! Love the grass in frosting!!

  15. Ingrid says:

    They do look so cute! Thanks for the heads up on flavor. I'm making cupcakes from that book but am leaning towards the snickerdoodle ones.
    ~ingrid

  16. Mrs. L says:

    Those cupcakes look awesome! I think you did a great job even if the grass isn't as green as Martha's (why do I think there is a joke in there somewhere :)

  17. kamailesfood says:

    Cute cupcakes! Did you use gel paste? Those usually produce bright colors. Or maybe using a bit of blue and yellow to make it darker.

    Good luck with the teething. My son didn't start getting any teeth until he was 9 months. Thankfully, he hasn't been too cranky of a teether. Just really drooly and chewed on everything in site.

  18. kamailesfood says:

    hmmm…i must be spending too much time on the internet. I just re-read my comment. I, er, meant 'sight', not 'site.'

  19. Marly says:

    These cupcakes are adorable! Any other ideas for more kid-friendly recipes? RecipeLion.com has a ton of dessert recipes, but we're really lacking on the kiddie sweets!

  20. Steph says:

    Those cupcakes are really cute!! Everyone is making such beautiful cupcakes!! I need to get that book.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I just want to say that I have seen these cupcakes in Martha's book and at first I thought this was a picture from the book! My coworker whipped out her copy settle the question. We are all so IMPRESSED at how lovely your cupcakes turned out! A previous commenter was right, Martha could not have done better!

  22. Susan from Food Blogga says:

    These are too precious! My nieces would love making them. Thanks, Deborah!

  23. BMK says:

    These are absolutely beautiful!

  24. Amy I. says:

    I just bought this cookbook, can't wait to start using it. Your cupcakes made me smile, they're so precious.

  25. Claire says:

    CUUUUTE cupcakes! Before you know it, you'll be making something like this for your baby's first birthday. She sure is moving fast. :-)

  26. tara says:

    Beautifully done! Both our boys teethed at 4 months, so I understand how you feel. These cupcakes are gorgeous and great review of the recipe. Such fun!

  27. Amanda says:

    These are so adorable, I love them!

  28. Jennifer says:

    You have the cutest cupcake creations!! I always seem to have trouble making my grass look right. Way to go!!

  29. kiss my spatula says:

    OMG – these are the most adorable things in the world!

  30. Mary says:

    I adore Swiss meringue. I have a thought regarding shade of green. Green is a mix of blue and yellow. What if you were to make your own green or add more blue to a sample of the icing to see what happens? Teething can be tough for baby and Mom. Hugs…Mary

  31. glamah16 says:

    These cupcakes are just adorable. Trying to catch up with your blog. You have been busy with some excellent recipes. Love the pineapple sherbert!

  32. Patsyk says:

    I thought the grass looked very green in the photo. Did you use the gel food coloring? I recently discored how much darker the colors will get using that instead of the other type. They turned out so adorable… Martha would be proud!

  33. Shandy says:

    I LOVE the ladybug cupcakes! You have a teething little one AND you made these. WoW, am I impressed =D

  34. Angie's Recipes says:

    This would make any, every kids jump with joys !

  35. RecipeGirl says:

    Glad you're having fun w/ your little one. It's so fun to see their milestones. Memories forever!

    These are darling.. regardless of their taste. Nice job!

  36. The Queen of Quite a Lot says:

    Those are so cute! You did a great job!

  37. Furniture removals says:

    soo cute lady bug cupcakes.. reminds me of very special person :-P

  38. Sophie says:

    Ahhh! These are so so cute :)! I'm smiling just looking at them. Lovely job.

  39. ♥Rosie♥ says:

    Your cupcakes look absolutely divine.

  40. Katrina says:

    Way cute and they sounds tasty!

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