“Can you make jungle cupcakes?” asked my mom as she was planning my little brother’s 3rd birthday. Little Jake was having a “jungle” party at an indoor play centre called “Go Bananas” and honestly, that’s what happens to everyone over the age of 10 when you’re in there. “Excuse me? Define “jungle” for me…” I responded, nervous for her answer. I was hoping she didn’t mean actual animals on cupcakes but I guess I didn’t hope hard enough! I looked to the all powerful internet for some ideas and maybe if I was lucky a tutorial. I found a few photos of tigers, monkeys and a dog. I’m not sure what kind of jungle has a Dalmatian, but apparently someone thought they could be filed under the same category! I decided to go ahead and plan out my own design with the help of the photos. While I was collecting my ingredients to make the faces, I ran into a predicament. Has anyone ever tried looking for black icing or gel? I searched every grocery store, bakeware store and even specialty baking places and after a full day of driving around I was so close to giving up. All I needed was a small tube of black food dye to make the stripes on the tiger’s face. I had some of the stores call around for me and finally I had the precious black food gel in my hands.
Since this was my first time making cupcakes with more than a simple swirl on top, I wasn’t sure how much time to allot. So rather than give myself more time than not, I baked the cupcakes the night before they were needed. Yes, that’s right, the night before. I wanted the cupcakes to be zebra striped inside with chocolate and vanilla cake but decided that a bunch of 3 year olds wouldn’t even notice. So, I swirled the two flavours together to make them marbled. While the cupcakes baked, I carefully set out the different coloured icing, chocolate covered acai berries (for the monkey’s ears), orange M&M’s (for the tiger’s ears), chocolate chips (for the monkey’s eyes) and Ghirardelli drinking chocolate (minuscule chocolate chips for the tiger’s eyes). As I let the cupcakes cool, I tried to calm myself while I watched the clock tick to 10 pm. I couldn’t believe I started this so late and thought it would be quick and easy to do! Well, it was too late to go back in time…
I carefully assembled all 24 cupcakes and cleaned up the colourful mess I had made. My mom came home from a dinner and couldn’t believe her eyes! She had to stifle a giggle when she saw the monkeys though… in fact, she didn’t even know they were supposed to be monkeys! She thought they looked more like bears. I know bears aren’t usually found in the jungle but if they look like bears, they were bears! I didn’t tell the kids at the party what the animals were, the tigers were pretty self explanatory but I left it up to their wild imaginations as to what the bear/monkey ones were. All the kids loved them and scarfed down at least two each! Thankfully I got a photo or two of the finished product before the stampede of kids demolished them.
What does Jake want for his birthday this year? A Thomas the Train cake. Stay tuned!