The start of Spring always gets me so excited to get outdoors and work in our garden again! Especially since my husband and I start planning our garden months in advance! It’s not just the fruits and veggies that I love to grow, but our potted plants, too. Last year, I had some amazing cactus and succulent container gardens on our deck. I’m hoping they made it through the winter because they looked so good and made our deck feel complete! Of course, for a cacti obsessed gal like me, I can always find an excuse to buy a new plant!
It’s still too early to start our outdoor garden, but the anticipation to get my hands down in the dirt is killing me! So I thought I would bake up a little springtime cacti garden instead. My husband recently asked me for chocolate chip cupcakes. It was the perfect opportunity to bake up a batch of chocolate chip cupcakes and decorate them with edible dirt made from Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels. Then, I created some blooming cacti with fondant, chocolate-covered strawberries, and royal icing flowers.
Now, I have to admit that when it comes to baking, I usually stick to boxed mixes and simple decorating. This year, I’m trying my best to work on my baking skills. Especially the decorating part! It’s definitely one of my blogging goals for the year! So I was brave, skipped the boxed mix, and made these cupcakes from scratch. I modified a simple vanilla cake recipe and added semi-sweet Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels to it. They came out moist and delicious!
Decorating these cupcakes was a lot of fun! Despite my love for cacti, the edible dirt is probably my favorite part of these cupcakes. I took some white chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels and some semi-sweet chocolate morsels and added them to a food processor. Once the chocolate morsels looked like a rocky, dirt mixture, I put my chocolate “dirt” in a small bowl for decorating. It pretty much looks like a potting mixture you would use in a cactus garden!
When the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I piped chocolate frosting on top of them with a star tip. Then, I sprinkled my “dirt” mixture on top. I had never worked with fondant before, so I wasn’t completely sure what I was getting into. So I just molded it like clay to create my tall cacti and used toothpicks as support. The small cacti were made with chocolate-covered strawberries dipped in white chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels tinted green. A royal icing flower was used to make the cacti bloom and I used the extra fondant I had to make “string of pearl” succulents.
- 1/4 cup white chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels
- 4.4 oz pkg. green fondant
- Royal icing flowers
- White chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels
- Green food coloring
- Strawberries, washed and dried
- Green sugar sprinkles
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels
- Chocolate frosting
- Add white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels to a food processor and pulse until a rocky, dirt texture has been achieved. Set aside for decorating.
- Cut the tops off of the strawberries (how many you use is up to you).
- In a small pot, melt the rest of the the white chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels on low.
- Stir continuously and add green food coloring until you get your desired color.
- Dip strawberries into the chocolate and place cut-side-down on parchment paper.
- Working quickly, sprinkle with green sugar sprinkles and top with royal icing flowers.
- Allow chocolate to harden completely before decorating.
- Slice a piece of green fondant and roll it in your hands.
- Cut the bottom with a knife to create a flat bottom.
- Then, stick two toothpicks into it.
- Cut another slice of fondant and then cut that in half.
- Roll each half to create the cacti "arms" and stick a toothpick into each arm. You may have to cut the toothpick in half.
- Then, carefully push the arms into the cactus body.
- Create a textured look by pressing a toothpick vertically into the cactus body.
- Then, add a royal icing flower with white chocolate Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels to the top of the cactus.
- If desired, make "string of pearl" succulents by rolling the fondant into tiny balls.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add cupcake liners to two muffin pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine.
- Then, gradually add each egg into the dry ingredients.
- Continue adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Then, stir in the chocolate chips.
- Fill the cupcake liners about halfway with the mixture and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cupcake.
- Allow cupcakes to cool completely and then decorate with chocolate frosting, edible dirt, and cacti.
I know what you’re thinking. “OMG, Jessica! This recipe has so many steps!” I know. I hate recipes with a million steps, too. Who has time for that? But here’s the thing – the edible dirt takes like a minute to make. Then, while the cupcakes are in the oven, you can make the cacti. You’re not going to be spending forever in the kitchen making cupcakes. I promise you that! Plus, decorating these cupcakes is a ton of fun and will definitely give you Spring Fever!
Also, you know how you tell your kids not to play in the dirt? Get them involved in making these cupcakes and you’ll be the coolest mom ever (like you’re not already)! I just made snowman cupcakes a couple weekends ago with my niece and they were a hit! She loved being able to mix the batter and help decorate. I can’t wait to show her these cupcakes! Especially since Aunt Jess got her baking groove back!
My husband and I grabbed every single one of these ingredients, including the Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels (found in the baking aisle), while we were shopping at Walmart one evening. Then, I spent a rainy, snowy day creating a little bit of sunshine in our kitchen.
These cupcakes hit right on the cacti and succulent baking trend. They’re perfect for springtime entertaining, too. Bring them to your cacti obsessed bestie for her birthday. Make them for a springtime garden party. Want to go beyond bunnies for Easter? These would bring a little springtime cheer to your holiday table, too! They’re a sweet treat that’s sure to impress!
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