Saturday, September 29, 2012

super hero cupcake toppers for charlie's 3rd birthday

I usually like to make my cupcake toppers out of gum paste. Like I did here, herehere and here. But when it comes to making cupcake toppers for toddlers I'm switching it up and piping them out of royal icing. Because when you're a little kid, you want to eat everything off of your cupcake!!! That includes the decoration!!! 

***Gum paste is totally edible too, but gum paste dries quite hard and honestly not the best tasting stuff.***

My first attempt at making royal icing cupcake toppers was for Jasper's Cars themed birthday. And since I felt it was pretty successful I decided to use the same technique for Charlie's Super Hero birthday party this weekend. 

So let's get piping.

What you'll need:
1 batch of your favorite royal icing
gel food coloring
sheets of parchment paper
clean sheet pans
plastic piping bags fitted with a tip with a small piping hole/opening
OR parchment paper triangles rolled into cones 
small binder clip
a piece of thin cardboard for cutting out a stencil
a Sharpie

Before you get started, tint the shades needed for your royal icing. Be careful not to add to much water in the beginning because you want your royal icing to be quite stiff to pipe out the flood lines. Pretend you're about to decorate invisible cookies. 

For Superman: Figure out how large you want the "S" to be and using the thin cardboard, cut out a stencil. Take a large piece of parchment paper and fold it in half. Open up the parchment and on the inside of the parchment paper trace the stencil with your Sharpie marker.

Fold over the top part of the parchment paper so you're ready for piping. Place folded parchment onto a clean sheet pan.

***You don't want to pipe directly onto your outline because (A) it's ink from a Sharpie and (B) because it's just yucky.*** 
Fill your piping bag or parchment paper cone with red royal icing and fold over the top so that the royal icing doesn't ooze out.

Since you've used a Sharpie tracing out your outline, you'll be able to see it through the paper. Begin piping out all of the outlines and set aside to dry. 

Once your outline is dry, fill it with your yellow tinted icing. You might need to add a little water to your icing so that it resembles a thick heavy cream.

After the icing has dried for a couple of hours, carefully pipe the red "S" on top.

Set aside to dry completely.

For Batman: Batman's symbol was a little difficult to cut out a cardboard stencil, trace and pipe so I decided just to free pipe the design with black royal icing on parchment on a clean sheet pan.

Pipe out the outline.
Let it dry completely.
Fill with black icing.

***The toothpick helps you guide the royal icing into the crevices.***

The bat is pretty delicate. I'd recommend piping over the entire design again after it has dried for a couple of hours.

Set aside and let dry completely.

***These WERE pretty delicate and I got scared that they would break during transit because I was handing over the toppers and cupcakes separately. I went ahead and cut out bats out of gum paste just in case.....*** 
The Green Lantern's symbol was pretty easy. No need for a stencil or tracing. Just free pipe. Let dry and fill in the center with white royal icing.
For Spiderman: Follow the Superman steps for making a stencil and tracing out Spiderman's face onto the inside of a folded piece of parchment. This will ensure that they're all the same size. 

Pipe out flood line with red royal icing.
Fill with red icing.
And with a toothpick, draw icing to the edges.

While the icing is still wet, pipe 3 black icing circles into the red icing.

To make the spider-like web for Spiderman's face, take your toothpick and draw through the lines starting from outside of the largest circle and then from the inside circle; drawing inwards then outwards.

You may want to wipe off the toothpick in between drawing through the icing so that the colors don't get muddled.

Let this dry completely. At least 2 hours or more.

Pipe out a long teardrop for Spiderman's eyes. Let this dry completely. About an hour.

Fill the eyes in with white royal icing. Without disturbing Spiderman's face, with your toothpick carefully drag white icing to fill in the crevices. 

Let dry completely, 2 or more hours.

To define Spiderman's eyes, I repiped the outline with black royal icing.

Let your icing toppers dry completely overnight.  

Royal icing cupcake toppers are very delicate compared to gum paste toppers. Once dried completely (preferably overnight) they can be stored in an airtight container for future use or used right away. 

These Super Hero cupcake toppers were created for Charlie's 3rd birthday this weekend. And since I do not know what happens to the toppers once refrigerated I had to hand over the cupcakes and toppers separately.....No pics. Sorry!!!

You're 3 !!!

Happy Birthday Charlie!!!


  1. Wow, thanks for this post... I am just planning my son's party and was looking for options other than fondant/gum paste toppers. I'm still undecided whether I should bake really thin cookies/crackers and then pipe the designs onto those or try your method of using the icing by itself. Don't know if I trust my piping skills enough to create toppers that won't break! :)

    1. Jane.....I'd say go for it!!! Tracing out your designs on parchment really helps. :) Good luck and let me know if my any of my tips work!!!

    2. Hey Melissa, Thanks for the encouragement. Took me some time to finally write about my adventures in icing... The kids loved the results and so did I. I linked back to your blog in this post:

    3. Hi Jane!!!
      That's totally AWESOME!!!! They look great and thanks SO MUCH for the blog love. :) I'm glad you figured out the Batman design and have to admit those were the most fragile.

  2. these are perfect for my sons birthday cupcakes. can you please share the recipe for the royal icing you used? i have only ever made buttercream so a little unsure about consistancy :) thank you

    1. Amanda....please email me @ and I will happily share my royal icing recipe with you!!!

  3. I just discovered your blog and am really enjoying it!
    I love the idea of using royal icing instead of fondant, but am wary about the hardened icing softening up or running once placed on the cake/cupcakes. Have you tested to see how far in advance one could place the icing decorations? Thanks!

    1. Hi Libby!
      Since the royal icing toppers are on the delicate side, I usually place them on top of the cupcakes the day of. I'd say overnight, maybe 24 hrs., would be tops to how far in advance to place the royal icing toppers on. I'm sorry I couldn't give you a more definite answer. I would highly recommend making the royal icing toppers at least 1 - 2 days in advance. You need them to thoroughly dry/harden.

  4. Do you know if these can be made ahead and frozen? Planning a first birthday with toddlers around. I need as much early prep as possible! These look great.

  5. Do you know if these can be made and frozen ahead of time? Planning a first birthday with toddlers around means as much early prep as possible! These look great!

    1. Hi Jessica,
      No, the toppers cannot be frozen. They actually keep quite well for weeks in an air tight container. Good luck!