Number one on my list of best-friends-who-don’t-know-I-exist is former agent turned author Nathan Bransford. When I discovered Bransford’s blog about a year ago, I learned that I could trust him to knock out all of my newbie aspiring author questions:
How to query? Bam!
Word count? Pow!
Synopsis length? Zap!
Bransford’s blog has been there for me during middle of the night writing freak outs and when I feel the pangs of rejection. So when he recently posted about the trials of self advertisement, I decided to give back to the man who keeps a light at the end of the writing tunnel.
The Exception to the Rule designed a literary cupcake after Bransford’s debut novel, Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, a fast paced and ridiculously fun middle grade novel.
“Earth Swirl” Vanilla Marshmallow Cake
Cosmic Frosting with Pop Rock Kapow!
Custom Candy Spaceship
If a cupcake is going to embody the first Jacob Wonderbar novel, it must be kid friendly, tasty, and all fun! Because the story begins on Earth and then launches into a galaxy of surprises, I modeled the cake after pictures of Earth from space by marbling blue and green tinted batter. Marshmallows provide extra sweetness and a yummy caramelized taste.
I added some space age fun to the cupcake’s exterior by using silver cupcake liners and purple and black “cosmic” vanilla buttercream. The Pop Rocks are perfect for adding a touch of kapow! to each bite. The popping will surprise anyone who isn’t expecting it!
Finally, I garnished the cupcake with a simple candy model of the spaceship that launched Jacob and his friends Sarah and Dexter into space.
If you are looking for a fun book (with excellent vocabulary) to give the child in your life, wrap up a copy of Jacob Wonderbar and bring along a tray of these cupcakes to make up for last year’s fruit cake debacle!
What You’ll Need
For the Cake
- 24 silver cupcake liners
- 1 18.25 oz. white cake mix (not one with pudding added)
- 1 stick melted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups mini marshmallows
- .25 oz. vials of green and neon green food coloring
- .25 oz. vial blue food coloring
For the Frosting
- 1 stick softened butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3+ cups powered sugar (more may be needed for consistency)
- 1-2 tablespoons of milk (optional)
- .25 oz. vials black and neon purple food coloring
- 1 gallon zip sealed bag
For the Garnish
- 2 packets any flavor Pop Rocks candy (I used watermelon.)
- 24 white spice drops
- 8-12 purple spice drops
- 2 bags black licorice bears (I used 2 licorice bears per spaceship, but you could work with any candy with a similar size and texture. They are like large gumdrops.)
- 1 package Twizzlers Filled Twists Sweet and Sour Candy. Two strands of red should be enough.
- 48 orange chocolate covered sunflower seeds.
*These are my candy recommendations to recreate 24 spaceships like the one in the above pictures. If you purchase multicolored candy assortments, I encourage you to experiment with the other flavors to save money, avoid waste, and have fun!
(If working with a child, remember to supervise and help with each step of the baking and decorating process!)
- Preheat your oven to 350° or 325° for dark or nonstick pans.
- Line two 12 cup cupcake pans with liners.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the cake except the marshmallows in a medium bowl. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and finish beating the mix on medium speed for two minutes. Fold in the mini marshmallows.
- Transfer about half of the batter into a medium bowl.
- Use blue food coloring to tint one bowl of batter “ocean” blue. Try about 30 drops of color to get started.
- Use the ratio 2:1 drops of neon green:green food coloring in the other bowl of batter. Play around with the color until you are satisfied. I preferred keeping the colors bright and neon for maximum contrast.
- Fill each cupcake liner a little more than 1/3 full of blue batter. I used a half scoop from an ice cream scoop like this one to evenly distribute the batter.
- Add a half scoop of green batter on top of the blue. The cupcake liners should be about 3/4 full when you are finished.
- Take a butter knife or spoon and swirl the blue and green batter in each cupcake holder. Press from the top of the batter down to the wrapper several times to push the green batter down and the blue up.
- Bake cupcakes for 13-18 minutes until cake springs to your touch.
- When cupcakes are finished baking, let them cool until they are safe to touch, and transfer them to a plate.
- While cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting. Beat the powered sugar, butter, and extract on medium speed for about a minute and then finish on high speed for another minute. Check the consistency and add more powdered sugar if needed. You want the frosting to be soft enough to pipe on the cupcakes and firm enough to hold its shape. A tablespoon of milk will help if the frosting is too stiff.
- Separate a third of the frosting and place it in a small bowl. Tint this frosting by adding one drop of black food coloring and 3+ drops of neon purple.
- Tint the remaining 2/3 frosting black. Begin with 5 drops of color and add more if necessary.
- Take the zip sealed bag and spoon the purple frosting into the left side of the bag. Then transfer the black frosting to the right side of the bag. Push the air out and seal the bag.
- Push the frosting to one bottom corner of the bag. Cut the corner off the bag, making a dime sized hole.
- Starting at the edge of the cupcake and working toward the middle, pipe on the frosting in a circular motion. Enjoy the purple and black swirl! Each cupcake will look a little different.
- Sprinkle the Pop Rocks on top of the frosting.
- Serve immediately after decorating or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Creating Candy Spaceships
- Begin by shaping a triangle base for the ship. I took two licorice bears, cut off their faces, arms, and feet with a knife, and sandwiched the sticky, cut sides together. I then used my hands to press the candy into a triangle.
- The dome is the top half of a white spice drop centered on the triangle. The sticky, cut end of the spice drop will adhere it to the spaceship.
- I took a purple spice drop and used kitchen scissors to cut tiny, thin, strips. Each strip made 3 squares. I put these purple square windows on both sides of the ship. The cut sides will make them stick.
- 1/4 inch slices of the filled Twizzlers made the engine. I fit two Twizzler slices side by side. The filling will allow them to adhere.
- One coated sunflower seed will fit into each Twizzler engine to look like flames.
- When you are satisfied with your spaceship, place on the left hand side of the cupcake to make it look like it is traveling forward.
- Make one ship for each cupcake.
This recipe is inspired by The Cake Mix Doctor.
Check out her book for delicious and simple cake ideas!
The products I suggest are the ones I use in my kitchen.