Winter birthdays can be tough on kids. Partygoers have to contend with inclement weather, limiting the possibilities of fun celebratory activities. Instead of fighting the season, why not embrace it? Host a winter-themed kids’ birthday party, complete with arctic animals, cutout snowflakes, and a host of wintery treats.
These adorable baby penguin cupcakes are perfect for an arctic-themed party. Easy to make and incredibly cute, they double as a festive centerpiece too!
Oreo-style cookies provide the base for the penguin faces. Besides the extra chocolatey deliciousness, using cookies as a cupcake topper gives you the chance to create a sweet face without the pressure of ruining an entire cupcake. And since allergies are always a concern with kids, this recipe’s totally vegan- and nut-free. (Both Oreos and the Trader Joe’s Joe-Joe’s versions are vegan. Check the ingredients if allergens are a concern.)
If homemade cupcakes don’t fit in with your schedule, feel free to use a store-bought chocolate cake mix or pick up a batch of chocolate mini cupcakes and smoosh your sweet penguin cookie faces right on top. These crafty cupcakes are a cinch!
Oreo Penguin Cupcake Toppers
Makes: 20 Oreo penguin faces
20 Oreo or Oreo-style cookies
2 orange orange vegan candy, such as Brach’s Orange Slices or Dots
1-2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
black sesame seeds or black gel frosting
1. Before getting started, gather the tools you’ll need: tweezers, a sharp knife, scissors, and heavy-duty tin foil. To make the stencil, press a small foil rectangle over one of the cookies. Cut out a penguin face shape within the circle (similar to the shape of a cashew).
2. To make penguin noses, slice the orange candy into thin slices, then cut to small triangle shapes.
3. To make frosting, mix 1 tablespoon water and the vanilla extract into the powdered sugar until smooth. Add more water — just a drizzle at a time — until mixture is still thick, but smooth enough to spread easily.
4. Set the stencil over your first cookie and use a spoon to spread a thin layer of frosting. Grab the top of the stencil and carefully lift off. Use a clean knife to fix any drips or smudges.
5. Working quickly, add either the sesame seed or frosting eyes and the orange candy nose. Set cookie aside until frosting has hardened. Repeat for all cookies.
6. To affix to bare (completely cooled) cupcakes, add a quarter-sized dollop of frosting and carefully twist cookies into place. Set aside while frosting hardens.
Chocolate Mini Cupcakes (Vegan)
adapted from The All New All Purpose: Joy of Cooking
Makes: 20 chocolate mini cupcakes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil (or other neutral oil)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and sea salt. In a small bowl, stir to combine the remaining ingredients. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring just until ingredients are well incorporated.
3. Spoon batter into muffin tin, and slide into the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
4. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.