Appetite for Life: Easy as Cupcakes

For those who have read my past columns or read my blog, you know that while I love to cook, baking scares the bejeezus out of me. There’s far too much measuring and rule-following for my taste. It’s not that I can’t follow a recipe, but I like having the flexibility to “wing it” and change things to taste.

All that being said, for my son’s second birthday this past weekend, I decided to take one for the team and make his birthday cake myself. My talented aunt is normally recruited for this task, but I wanted to try to be Super Mom and do it by myself.

After talking to my very professional and very talented chef friend, Juli, she suggested I do what she did last year and do cupcakes. You can put them all together on a single tray and give the illusion of a cake, but everyone can have a pre-portioned serving and there’s less room for error.

So, I purchased my lemon cake mix, lemon icing, cupcake wrappers, and red sprinkles, and set out to create Elmo for the party.

Below are the steps I followed. You could easily do this for any shape or theme. And, hey, if I can do it, you certainly can!

Elmo Cupcake Face

  • 1 box of cake mix, flavor of your choice
  • 1 can of whipped icing
  • Coordinating cupcake wrappers
  • Cupcake baking tins (enough for 24 cupcakes)
  • 1 – 16” round tray/platter
  • Print-out of Elmo’s eyes, nose, and mouth (printed on heavy cardstock)
  1. Following the directions on the box of cake mix, make 24 cupcakes (this is standard for one box of mix).
  2. Let them cool completely.
  3. While waiting for them to cool, print out Elmo’s eyes, nose, and mouth proportional to the tray and size of cupcakes you are using.
  4. Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread on the icing, making sure each cupcake top is covered completely.
  5. Next, take a plate (to catch the loose sprinkles) and place each cupcake on it individually and add the sprinkles.  Be sure to shake off the loose sprinkles before placing the cupcake on the tray.
  6. Once the cupcakes are all complete and placed on the tray in the shape of Elmo’s face, using icing to place the eyes, nose and mouth on top of the cupcakes.


  1. Those are the best cupcakes ever! I love Elmo and know that my baby cousins would flip over these!!! Thank you for sharing!!

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