In my trials for the perfect third birthday cake or cupcakes I tried and fell in love with the butterfly design. It only took several trials to get to that design but was worth it in the end. It was cute, fun and tasty. That is of course as long as you love chocolate. I know very few people who don’t, so these were a safe bet.
Creating the butterflies can be somewhat time consuming. I chose to make the butterfly parts ahead of time which cut down on the stress of the project. Pipe, swirl, dry and carefully toss in an airtight container for later. I would only recommend doing it this way. If you try to make the butterflies, cupcakes and frosting in one big baking frenzy you may go crazy. A tip, always make more than you need. Sometimes wings will break. More likely to break are the antennae. This is even after you’ve fully assembled the butterflies. Chocolate is fragile. So more is definitely better.
What you’ll need:
disposable decorator bags, or large storage bags
candy melts – two colors
Start out by drawing a design consisting of wings and antennae on paper. Make sure to draw the wings the size you want the butterflies to end up. So try to not draw too large or you’ll be forced to size it down later which can be a frustrating task. Draw several designs until you are happy with one. Trace over your chosen design with a dark marker. Cut it out and set aside.
Cut wax paper into large squares big enough for the entire pattern as well as some breathing room around the edges. Prep your work area by laying out a paper towel with a few loose toothpicks. Pour a small amount of nonpareils into a bowl. Keep the bottle handy so you can refill the bowl as needed. Tape butterfly pattern to your work station. Place one piece of wax paper over pattern and lightly tape it down at the top. Do not tape wax paper to design. Tape it above, to the counter or other work station. One piece of tape should be sufficient.
Fill a decorator bag with candy melts. Candy melts are small discs of chocolate meant for candy making, easily found at any craft store. Place your brown – milk or dark – chocolate in one bag. Twist to seal off or use rubber rings used to seal them off. These can also be found in craft stores in the baking section. Do NOT cut the end of your bag yet. For the second color you can either purchase a premade color or purchase white and tint it yourself. If using premade colors, follow the steps used for the first bag. Toss both bags in the microwave. Heat at 50% power for 20-30 second intervals. Squeeze the bag after each time heated. When your chocolate is completely melted – absolutely no chunks remain – remove your bags. Let them cool for a few minutes.
If you are tinting your own color. Purchase white candy melts, toss in a double boiler to melt. Tint with Wilton icing colors. Always start out with just a touch of color, a little goes a long way. Stir to blend well. Continue adding color and stiring until you are satisfied with the finished color. Remove from heat for several minutes to cool off. Carefully fill a decorator bag, seal off.
When your bags have cooled down just enough to handle comfortably, it’s time to begin. Snip off the tip of each bag. Start out with a small-ish hole and make larger if necessary. You want the edging color to have a smaller hole than the filling color but it doesn’t need to be super tiny – just not seriously large.
Always do one wing at a time! If you start with one and jump to the next before filling and swirling, the chocolate will begin to set and it simply will not work or at least not well. Outline one wing. Slow and steady. No need to rush.
Grab your filling color, squeeze zig zags into the center. Generously fill without going overboard.
Take a toothpick to fill the inside of the wing. As you go, swirl the edge with the inside color. While it’s still wet, sprinkle nonpareils on the bottom and top tips.
Repeat process with second wing, then carefully pipe the antennae. Remove tape from wax paper. Carefully slide square to an open area and allow to harden.
Save any remaining chocolate by folding over the tip, tape to the bag to secure.
After the wings and antennae have set fully, carefully place in a large airtight container until you are ready to assemble the butterflies. When you are ready to assemble them, you will need an array of items. Honestly I can’t tell you specifically what you’ll need as I just used what I had on hand! Starburst, spoons, mini cupcake liners, cookie cutters. What worked best, and that I had the most of, were the spoons and mini cupcake liners. These are to hold up the wings and antennae while the entire butterfly hardens into it’s proper position.
I’ve seen the next step done a different way but I personally wanted my butterflies to be a whole piece not individual butterfly parts stuffed into frosting. You can do it either way though. Start out by cutting a few new squares of wax paper. Carefully remove wings and antennae from one square of wax paper. Heat up remaining choolate or heat up a new bag. You don’t need a ton, so don’t go crazy making a new large bag. Space mini cupcake liner stacks accordingly to distance you want your wings apart from eachother. These will hold up the wings. Pipe a thick line down the center of the new wax square, between the cupcake liners (or whatever item you are using). This line forms the actual body of the butterfly. Place one wing in at a time, gently resting it on the cupcake liner. Repeat with second wing. Place a spoon at the head of the butterfly. Carefully insert the antennae, allow it to rest on the back of the spoon.
Repeat process with all remaining butterfly parts. After you make one butterfly, you will then have a leftover wax square from the body parts to use to assemble the next. Let each butterfly sit for 15-20+ minutes. Try to not get antsy and check on their doneness. The longer you wait, the better off you are.
When the butterflies have hardened sufficiently remove cupcake liners and slide away spoons. Very carefully transfer formed butterflies to a large tray to sit. Cover if needed.
Top off cupcakes by simply placing one butterfuly on each and gently pressing down in the center of the body to secure it’s position.
I also created 3’s made of swirled chocolate, afterall it was a third birthday!