Cupcakes: Happy Bee-day!

My friend Bee recently celebrated her birthday and so, of course, cupcakes were necessary. I’ve had a tub of ready-made plastic icing in the cupboard, waiting for me to turn into edible adorableness – this was the ideal opportunity, and it wasn’t exactly hard to pick a suitable theme. It’s given me lots of ideas for future cupcake embellishments too!

What you will need for 25 bees:

A fistful of ready-made plastic icing

Rainbow vermicelli

Yellow gel food colouring

Black gel food colouring

Slivered almonds

Have a sinkful of hot soapy water ready for this first part; add yellow gel colour to the plastic icing and knead it in until it’s a nice bright yellow. The sinkful of water is for your by-now bright yellow palms – fortunately it comes off easily. If you’re not going to use it immediately, wrap it up in cling to prevent it from drying out. Pinch off small blobs of plastic icing and roll them into smooth oval shapes, then line them up to have some plastic surgery (OMW! Plastic icing/plastic surgery).

Using a toothpick, make two eyes on one end and two antenna-holes on top of the head. Use a suitable utensil to press little smiles onto their faces – apparently there is such a thing as a “smile tool” available at fancy-shmancy shops but I just used the narrow end of a small round piping nozzle. Use the end of a sharp knife to make two small parallel lines down the bees back in which to insert the almond wings later.

The next job is ideal for Rain-Man OCD types – pour some vermicelli out, and carefully pair up equal-length same-colour strands to be used as antennae. Poke them into the antenna-holes (easier than you think). Allow the bees to dry out for a bit i.e. have a glass of wine and catch up on your reading (I am reading Me and My Sisters by Sinead Moriarty, in case you were wondering).

When you remember that you haven’t yet finished the bees and its very late and you could kick yourself for getting stuck into the book and drinking so much wine, dip a toothpick into the black gel colour and poke into the eye-holes to make them black.

Then carefully paint three black stripes over the bees backs, holding them by the face and bum ends (so you don’t smudge the stripes), and when you get to the last one, the first one should have dried out sufficiently for you to put the almond wings in. This is another job for Rain Man since you want similar size and shape almonds on each bee, otherwise they will look deformed.

Sweet little swarm

Pat yourself on the back for making such cute bees, then curse yourself for having forgotten to make the cupcakes the bees were intended to embellish. Abandon the fancy idea of making flower-petal shapes with the icing and adding a flower centre of jelly tots which match the bees antenna – the cupcakes will be adorable anyway:

PS: Sprinkling a little edible glitter over cupcakes instantly makes them posher – use a light hand or anyone taking a bite will get a faceful of fairy-dust.

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