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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chocolate Footballs for Cupcakes

I totally love the Super Bowl, because it marks the occasion of my first paid gig as a cake decorator! A friend asked me to make her two dozen cupcakes to take to a party, and I was more than happy to oblige…except that I know NOTHING about football. Photos of the actual cupcakes will come closer to the date when I make them, but I thought I'd get started on one of the elements that can be made in advance: chocolate footballs. I knew right away I didn't want to use plastic footballs on picks or anything else inedible; by now you probably know how I feel about cake gadgetry (anything you could make or do yourself that a kitchen-cluttering or overpriced product exists for, like cake levelers or pre-cut squares of parchment paper), and now you know how I feel about cake decorations: with rare exception, if you can't pipe it or find some other way to make it edible, pick another decorating concept. I found foil-wrapped chocolate footballs (in bulk, no less) in the first place I looked, the party supply store Diddams in San Mateo:
They're adorable as is, but that foil had to go; these things are going to be parked on top of cupcakes, presumably in a room full of people not paying full attention to the things they put in their mouths. After doing a Google image search and finding out exactly what actual footballs look like, I loaded a pastry bag with slightly thinned royal icing and a small round #2 tip, and piped a line, just slightly shorter than an inch, along one side of each "ball." 
By now, you've probably figured out that these footballs are likely cast from the same mold as chocolate Easter eggs; it's a little early in the season, but if you can find them, they'd probably be cheaper. I found out in my image search that footballs have 8 stitches. Using a #2 tip, I really could only fit six, but I doubt anyone is going to pass on the cupcakes for that reason:
Notice the pale green silicone tip cover to the left of my hand. These are really great when you're working with royal icing, which starts drying almost the second you set the bag down. Another thing I had to do was turn off any heat-producing light fixtures. The chocolate was seriously starting to melt in my hands while I was piping those laces. As I finished them, I parked them in a carrying case lined with shelf liner; this kept them more or less upright, and wouldn't allow them to roll over onto each other:
Here are my first few. They may not be regulation, but I think they'll be well-received. Coming up soon if all goes well: royal icing goal posts! 

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