Sunday, November 1, 2009

where the wild things are... cupcakes!

So I was Max from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak this Halloween. We'd had all these promotional displays at work (movies based on books are a big deal for bookstores), and I saw the movie a few weekends ago. So with all this ado about it, and the cute hat Max wears, how could I not be him for Halloween?

Also, when I was making the Monsters, Inc. cake pops last month, I got a bunch of ideas for Where the Wild Things Are-themed baked goods. So I thought, why not make cupcakes to match my costume?? And share the wealth with my co-workers?

I started out with a batch of devil's food cupcakes (how appropriate!) and whipped vanilla frosting. I got all the decorating candies at Fuzziwigs. The sprinkles were all Wilton. I also bought more melting chocolates (the ones I had were peppermint--I wanted to use white chocolate).

I thought I'd try making a monster first (rather than Max) since I was so excited... Here's the decorating ideas I laid out on wax paper:

Ha! Things are lookin' good. The eyes are yellow Spree candies, the noses are heart-shaped hard candies. The horns, beak and head-feathers are all gummy fruit wedges. The red hair is sour tape and the black hair is licorice (which I ended up not using because it had hardened and was difficult to cut, plus it was hard to chew and didn't taste too good anyway). Oh and the blue nostrils on the bull-looking face are chocolate-covered sunflower seeds!

I decided to make the bird-monster first. He seemed to have the simplest structure: beak, feathers, eye. I put white nonpareil sprinkles on the bottom half to look like the small feather pattern. Then I stuck on the fruit wedges and the Spree eye:

Of course there's a bottom part to the beak and many more feathers that could go in there, but I didn't have any extra fruit wedges to spare. Plus the oven was on and it happened to be a warm Halloween, so the pieces began to slide off. He spent the rest of the decorating time in the fridge!

I then separated some of the vanilla frosting into a bowl and put one drop of red food coloring and one drop of yellow to make a peach skin tone. (I had taken notes on Maurice's artwork from his book during my break at work so I'd know what colors and shapes to use!) It looks kind of like the "anything muppets" Jim Henson had--the kind you add things to to give it a personality:

Look it has a mouth! I didn't mean to do that! I decided to make this one the redhead (being one myself):

Aww... The teeth are white chocolate melts cut into small triangles, and the mouth was that old trick of putting icing in a Ziploc, pushing it to the corner, and snipping a tiny hole (if you don't have a fancy pastry bag!).

I made Max next by icing a cupcake with white, then the skin-tone over it on the middle-to-bottom part. I rimmed the white edges in white sparkling sugar. My original plan was to melt some of the white chocolate and pipe it out in triangle shapes for the ears. Well, I put them in a Ziploc bag in a bowl and microwaved them. The directions said to knead in between microwaving, but I found out too late that the chocolate had melted through the bag! Melted chocolate got all over my hand--ow! So I suggest microwaving in 10-second intervals instead of 30!

That incident kind of killed the dream of shaping melted chocolate into whatever I desired, so I went with the simpler approach of cutting the melting wafers into triangle shapes (duh) and stuck those in. I then used the chocolate icing to draw his face. My first attempt looked like Doug Funnie in a Max costume:

Then I realized he looked too nice and I went for the true Max face:

I am SO proud of this one! I hope it would make Maurice proud, too. The chocolate icing really behaved as it came out of the bag, and the sugar really looks like fuzz!

I used the redhead face template again to make the "main character" monster (I've always seen him as the main character even though that nice bull-like one is on the cover). You know, the one with the striped shirt (body). I used that amazing European chocolate bar, Flake, as the hair and beard. I broke it up into small pieces and spread them around the head. Then I piped some more chocolate icing around it:

The horns are also the melting wafers, just cut in half.

Then I made my personal favorite, the bull-like one. This one gets to be blue! I put a drop of blue food coloring in a Dixie cup full of icing and put that on the cupcake. I added the eyes, fruit wedges (horns and ears), sunflower seeds (nostrils), icing mouth and melting wafer teeth (cut into square shapes). I almost forgot about the blue sprinkles I had picked up the day before!! I think that was the finishing touch that made this one come out so nicely. The one in the book has a mound of fluff or fur on top of his head which the glitter mimicked pretty well:

The plate even looks like the plants from Where the Wild Things Are!

So here they all are together:

And on a plate:


With the leftover cupcakes and what remained of the decorations (not much), I made some blue claw cupcakes and some title cupcakes:

The claws are--you guessed it!--white chocolate melting wafers cut in half! I'm so glad I bought those.

I made these to bring into work with my costume on, so here they all are in the amazing Cupcake Courier:

A few close-ups!!

This one has some significance if you've seen the movie:

And of course here's me in my costume holding my darlings:

Here I am with my costumed co-workers/friends:
Colonel Mustard, his girlfriend The Maid (both from Clue), Billy Mays in front of them, Paper Bag Princess (from the Robert Munsch book of the same name), a Pirate, Peter Pan, and me, Max!

Here is one of the cupcakes with his stuffed animal counterpart:

Here's one last picture taken at work with the artwork we usually have above the hardcover picture books:

They were then left in the break room where the REAL wild things are ;) Happy Halloween!

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