To make the "terra-cotta flower pots" and the actual plants, you'll need fondant. Fear not—you can buy it at any craft store—it's just like working with clay, so have fun with it! Before we start rolling out any fondant, we need cupcakes to work with. I rarely do this, but for today's post I decided to cut corners and use a cake mix. I know its taboo in the pastry world to use a "box" cake, but no one can deny the convenience of it! (I won't tell, if you don't.) To elevate the cake mix, I added a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne. Voilà! Mexican Chocolate cake:)
I also kept things simple with frosting. Domino Sugar has the simplest buttercream recipe around. It's pretty sweet, but this buttercream is the perfect base for the "dirt." I dyed the buttercream to match the graham cracker crumbs, but then I realized the color resembled a peanut butter frosting. Next time, Ill skip the food coloring and just use peanut butter in my frosting.
Is there anything graham cracker crumbs can't solve!? Once you've frosted and covered your cupcakes with "dirt" you're ready to work with the fondant. Use gel food coloring (also available at craft stores) to match the terra-cotta and the succulent green leaves. For the terra-cotta, you'll need a few drops of orange and brown. For the succulent green, use a few drops of electric green and a small drop of black. Knead the color into the fondant until you have the right shade. It helps to have a real succulent plant nearby to compare it to.
Dust your work surface with a little confectioners sugar to prevent the fondant from sticking and roll the fondant out to make your terra-cotta pot. Use buttercream to stick the fondant to the cake. Remember to wrap any unused fondant immediately or it will dry out.
|Build your succulent from the inside out. Use a dab of water to stick the leaves to each other.|
Mini muffin tins help to mold the leaves. They will harden as they sit, then you can nest the smaller leaves into the larger ones, using a dab of water or buttercream as glue.
I had purple edible petal dust to highlight the tips of the succulent leaves, but you could easily use cocoa powder instead. I used powdered sugar to add the "frosted" effect.
Can you tell which one is the plant and which one's the cupcake?