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Ideas for Decorations & Garnishes

Cupcakes can be decorated in countless ways—it simply takes a little imagination to come up with ideas for unique finishes that add color, texture, and artistry to your cupcakes. Depending on how much effort you would like to put into the finishing touches, decorations can be as simple as colorful candies or they can be as intricate as abstract caramel embellishments.

  • CANDIES   Use a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip to pipe petite stars or rosettes onto the cupcakes, then gently press colorful candies or decorations into the center of each. Pipe the stars or rosettes 
so that their size works well with the size of the candies that you plan to use, and, if you like, 
match the color of the candies 
to the occasion.

  • CHOCOLATE CURLS   To make chocolate curls, gently warm 
a block of chocolate by micro-waving it for 5–10 seconds at 
75 percent power, then run a vegetable peeler along its length. The curls can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Be sure to handle the chocolate curls with care because the heat of your hands will easily melt them.

  • CARAMEL DESIGNS   To make caramel garnishes, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Cook 1 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until amber in color. Working very carefully, use 
a spoon to drizzle the caramel in designs onto the prepared baking sheet. Let the caramel cool, then carefully peel off the pieces.

Adapted from Cupcakes, by Shelly Kaldunski (Weldon Owen, 2008).