Unicorn Cupcakes (3 ways!)

As if unicorns weren't a rising trend before Agnes' adorable song in Despicable me.... now EVERYONE loves them, whether they sing songs about it or not. ::wink::

Unicorn cupcakes – similar in decoration to the currently trendy unicorn cakes – are definitely easier than assembling an entire layer cake! They’re perfect for birthday parties or even to make just for fun! Recipe and instructions below! 

I tried a new vanilla cupcake recipe for these – adapted slightly from Two Sugar Bugs’ ‘Simply Vanilla Cupcakes’ recipe! Check out Tasia’s site; she is an amazing lady with a beautiful blog!  

Vanilla Cupcakes:

1 cup butter, melted and cooled 
3 cups all purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
2 cups granulated sugar 
5 large eggs 
1 T pure vanilla extract 
1 cup milk - I used whole milk 
1/2 cup sour cream 


First – melt your unsalted butter and set aside to cool. This ensures it won’t be too warm and cook your eggs when you add it!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, milk and sour cream until well combined.  Add the cooled melted butter and whisk again until well combined.

Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  You want to be careful not to over mix the batter.  The batter will be quite thick.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full.  I didn’t want my liners to overflow, and I found I had enough leftover batter for about 16 mini cupcakes, so I made some of those as well!
Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Allow to cool completely before frosting. Speaking of white....this is a great time to make your frosting!  

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
3-4 drops each purple, pink, yellow, and teal Americolor food gel
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 24 cupcake liners
- small / large piping bag & small / large tips
- White (and pink if desired) fondant for decorations – this can be bought or made; see below! 
- gold or silver edible spray – or lustre dust, vodka, and a paintbrush 
- 24 toothpicks

(Note – the last 3 items in the above list can be disregarded if you’d rather buy your decorations.)

Noooow – onto the fun part!! Decorating!

Divide your frosting into four parts, and color them purple, pink, yellow, and teal (or use different colors if you’d rather). I used Americolor food gel to get the bright colors that I wanted, but liquid food coloring would work as well, especially if you’d like a more pastel shade to your colors.

Transfer your colored frosting to each of four piping bags fitted with piping nozzles – I used a variety of mostly star-shaped tips, but you can use whatever shape you would like! I started with the larger piping bags and piped about ½ of the top of each cupcake with those, and then worked my way around again with the other two colors. Add as much frosting as you’d like!  

Once you’ve piped on the colored frosting to cover the cupcakes, you can add some pearlized sprinkles to the frosting for a bit of extra shine.

Now the rest of the decorations!

If you don’t want the hassle of making the toppers, there are plenty of places to purchase them – I found several options on Amazon, and a super cute set on Etsy!

If you want to make your own Unicorn horn and ears, and eyes, you can use fondant to do so –fondant can be purchased, but it’s also fairly easy and significantly cheaper to make your own!  I’ve tried a couple of different marshmallow fondant recipes, and Tastes Better From Scratch’s recipe is my current fave!


Marshmallow Fondant

-16 ounce package mini marshmallows
-2-5 Tablespoons water
-8 cups powdered sugar
-1/3 cup vegetable shortening

Place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. 

Microwave for 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving in 30 second intervals until they are melted and smooth. I left mine white, but should you want to tint the entire batch, now is the best time to add a bit of gel food color – you can add it later if you’d like, but it will involve a LOT more kneading to get the color even.
Place about 5 cups of the powdered sugar on top of the melted marshmallow mixture and gently fold it into the marshmallows.

Grease your hands and your counter-top generously with shortening. Turn marshmallow mixture onto counter and start kneading it like you would dough. Add more confectioners' sugar as needed and re-grease your hands the counter-top as needed.

If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is too dry; add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time) kneading until fondant forms a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing, about 8 minutes.

Whichever type of fondant you decide to use, soften it slightly in the microwave and then shape into 24 small unicorn horns and 48 ears. You could definitely make some smaller ones to add to your minis as well, but making the small cupcake-sized ones was fiddly enough I just didn’t bother with it.

I made the horns by rolling a strip out to make it narrower on both ends and then doubling it over and twisting them together, cutting them to the length I wanted. Insert a toothpick to give you an anchor when you set them onto the cupcakes.

With either a food-grade color spray (I used Wilton’s gold spray) or lustre dust, vodka and a food-safe paintbrush, color the unicorn horns the color of your choice! You could also leave them white if you’d rather.

With a small circle cutter (or you could probably use a bottle cap), cut small white circles and pinch tightly at one edge and gently at the opposite edge to create slightly pointed ears (see video for a quick demo).

If you want pink centers to your ears, cut equally-sized circles and then use the same circle cutter to make them oblong. Wet your white circles to stick the pink centers to them, and then pinch the edges as described above. Another option is to add a bit of shine to the centers with lustre dust and a small paintbrush.

I HIGHLY recommend allowing the decorations to dry for several hours so that they don’t ‘wilt’ as they sit in the cream cheese frosting on the cupcakes – they can get a bit droopy if left there over more than a few hours! I learned this the hard way when several of my unicorn horns started to bend and the ears got droopy. Word to the wise!

Add a unicorn horn to the center of each cupcake, and ears on either side.

Step back, give yourself a high-five, and admire your adorable cupcakes!

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! 

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