Best of Swanky Recipes/ Cupcakes/ Desserts/ Seasonal

Unicorn Cupcakes

Unicorn Cupcakes - Cherry and almond cupcakes with beautiful purple, pink and blue swirled frosting. Topped with pastel sprinkles and nuts.

Indulge in the unicorn craze and try these stunning cupcakes made with maraschino cherries and almond flavoring. Take a ride on the wild side and try your hand at this beautiful multi color frosting topped with nuts and pastel sprinkles.

I’ve been wanting to share a unicorn inspired dessert ever since Starbucks came out with their mystical unicorn drink.  Even thought the beverage wasn’t for my taste, it sure was pretty to look at.  Ever since I had that last sip, I had dreamed of making a colorful cake with all the bells and whistles.  And while I was inspired to create that cake at the end of the month, these cupcakes sort of came about after a failed attempt to make red, white and blue cupcakes for the 4th of July.

Unicorn Cupcakes - Cherry and almond cupcakes with beautiful purple, pink and blue swirled frosting. Topped with pastel sprinkles and nuts.

The originally pipping bag had all the colors separated and put into one bag but it was just too hard to push through the Russian Ball tips I use to ice to tops.

Unicorn Cupcakes - Cherry and almond cupcakes with beautiful purple, pink and blue swirled frosting. Topped with pastel sprinkles and nuts.

As you can see in the frosting photo above, these cupcakes actually use red and blue food coloring.  Because the majority of the frosting is white, these red and blue dots of colored frosting actually develop into a purple, blue and pink pastel color.

What I had hoped was patriotic frosting turned into something much more beautiful.  The second I saw the outcome (the next morning) I instantly knew these were about to become Unicorn Cupcakes!

Unicorn Cupcakes - Cherry and almond cupcakes with beautiful purple, pink and blue swirled frosting. Topped with pastel sprinkles and nuts.

The secret to creating beautiful pipped frosting starts with a good frosting recipe that has the ability to hold up well with heat and humidity.  It’s important when decorating the tops that the frosting is chilled.  This will help to stabilize the frosting.

The second tip to creating stunning swirls is to use Russian Ball Tips.  I found a set on Amazon after watching a YouTube video and knew I had to try it.  To my surprise, it has created the frosting swirls I’ve always dreamed of.  It takes a little bit to get used to but It’s really easy to use and I find it much more enjoyable than traditional tips.  I highly suggest giving them a try!

Unicorn Cupcakes - Cherry and almond cupcakes with beautiful purple, pink and blue swirled frosting. Topped with pastel sprinkles and nuts.

What I love about these Unicorn Cupcakes is just how versatile it is.

I love that these can be made for a bridal shower, a birthday party and even a baby shower.  They are also perfect to make for a summer party or girls night in.

Unicorn Cupcakes - Cherry and almond cupcakes with beautiful purple, pink and blue swirled frosting. Topped with pastel sprinkles and nuts.

 

 As a super easy alternative to the cupcake base, you can use a white boxed cake mix.  Add diced maraschino cherries and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour to the mix then bake according to package directions.

If you have more time on your hands and like baking, give these homemade Unicorn Cupcakes a try!

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Unicorn Cupcake with Unicorn Cream Cheese Frosting

Cherry and almond cupcakes with beautiful purple, pink and blue swirled frosting. Topped with pastel sprinkles and nuts.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 16

Ingredients

For the Cupcake Batter

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 + 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries

For the Unicorn Frosting

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening *see notes for alternative
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extact
  • red food coloring ( I used Wilton )
  • blue food coloring ( I used Wilton)
  • spring time sprinkles

Instructions

To make the cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners; set aside.

    In a bowl fit with a mixer, beat sugar and butter until creamed, about 3 minutes.  

    Add eggs, one at a time. Increase speed to medium; beat for 3 minutes.

    Beat in vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to beat 1 minute.

    Slowly beat in heavy cream. Beat in flour, a little at a time. Beat in sour cream until incorporated. Scrape down sides of the bowl, beat for a few more seconds.

    Spoon batter about 1/2 full. 

    Carefully press in finely chopped maraschino cherries into the top of each cupcake.

    Bake in oven for about 22 minutes or until the center of the cupcake comes out clean with a toothpick. 

     Allow to cool completely.


To make the unicorn frosting

  1. Beat softened butter, shortening and confectioners' sugar for 3-5 minutes. 

    Beat in 1/4 softened cream cheese at a time. 

    Beat in vanilla and almond extract and a pinch of salt. Beat for an additional 3 minutes.

    Reserve 1/3 cup frosting and add a bunch of blue food coloring until a medium dark hue is achieved.

    Reserve 1/3 cup frosting and add a bunch of red food coloring until a deep red color forms (not pink, but red).

    Fill a pastry bag with a Russian ball tip.  Add white frosting to half the bag.  Add dots of red and blue color frosting ( 2 blue dots and 2 red dots).  Fill with white frosting then repeat with 2 blue dots and 2 red dots.

    Refrigerate pastry bag for 30 minutes to harden.  

    Pipe cupcakes.  Repeat until cupcakes are frosted.

    Place cupcakes in refrigerator to chill after pilling to hold shape.

    Top will spring color sprinkles.

    *****Color will develop from a pink and blue to a purple and pink over time.  Even as cupcakes are sitting, they will develop into a different color, be patient.  Colors will blend over time.

     ***Frosting needs to be cold to pipe. Refrigerate frosting in bag between pipping.

    **Vegetable shortening is used to hold the shape of the frosting better in high humidity or hot places.  I recommend using it to hold the shape of the frosting.  However, you may replace the shortening with unsalted butter. 


Recipe Notes

  1.  Use Russian Ball Tip to frost cupcakes.  Here is an Amazon link to the ones I have.
  2. Cupcake Alternative - use white cake mix and add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour to the batter.  Then follow package directions.  Add diced cherries to top and bake.

Churro Cupcakes

 

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