Parties & Entertaining

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

by Shawnda on April 22, 2013

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Brownies,Dinosaur Train

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

Those are the fondant cupcake toppers from Landry’s Dinosaur Train birthday party. And the photo on the left was the inspiration for those cupcakes:

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

Seriously, I was this close to making the “Tiny” cupcake, too (the topper on the bottom left). And the fact that I am still alive today tells you that someone in this house convinced me to stick with one design.

For the record, “knows my limits” is #2 on the the million-item long list titled “Why I Couldn’t Survive Without Jason.”

Because the one design took several days by itself. But the good news – I made them a week out and didn’t have to worry about them as the party was approaching.

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

Step 1: Whip up a batch of marshmallow fondant. You can buy it but my experience with store-bought fondant has always been super unfavorable.

Step 2: Color the fondant (I used Americolor yellow, blue, and red).

Step 3: Spend an hour digging through your cake decorating stuff looking for comparable shapes to the inspiration.

The cutters used above came from the following sets:
3 – Wilton Fondant Alphabet Cutters
Smoke stack – Tulip from Wilton Fondant Garden Shapes
Smoke puff (large) – Flower from Wilton Fondant Garden Shapes
Smoke puff (small) – Wilton Fondant & Gum Paste Class Kit
Circle – ~2.5-inch round biscuit cutter

Step 4: Roll out the blue circles, cut them with the biscuit cutter and use an offset spatula to transfer to a rack for drying overnight.

Step 5: Cut out the yellow tulips, lightly brush the bottom of the flowers with water (don’t soak them – one pass with a paint brush or a finger tip dipped in water will do), and place them on the blue circles. Use the biscuit cutter to cut the bottom of the tuplip off, leaving a circle.

Step 6. Cut out the smoke puffs, and place them on the blue circles.

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

Step 7. When the smoke puffs are dry, cut the red 3s, lightly brush the bottom with water, and place on the large puff of smoke.

Step 8: Let dry completely and then store until needed. I loosely covered the rack with a dish towel and placed it out of the way on the countertop until the morning of the party.

Dinosaur Train Fondant Cupcake Toppers

The cupcake toppers will soften again after coming in contact with the moisture from the frosting. I topped the morning of the party and the fondant had softened by early afternoon party.

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Dinosaur Sugar Cookies

“Mooooo-mmyyyyyy! Have you seen my glass slippers?”

“No, have you seen mine?!

[sigh]

The door hasn’t completely closed on the dinosaurs and bugs and lizards and legos phase… but it has definitely taken a backseat to Pink Princess Pandemonium.

It started with Cinderella. And it now includes Merida (who, by the way, is the coolest ^%$#@ princess ever), “Mapunzel,” Belle, and Snow White (but her mom is scary so we’re only like 50% bought in to that one).

It’s PINK ALL THE THINGS. And while I crinkle my nose at it, I’m really do try hard to embrace it. It’s really a cute phase – not as fun as dinosaurs – but still cute. And as a total dino-geek myself, I’ll never let that one fall by the side. So I was super excited that she wanted a “dinosaur party at my gym” to celebrate her 3rd birthday.

Dinosaur Sugar Cookies

So a Dinosaur Train “Dinosaur A to Z” party at her gym, she got.

Do you know Dinosaur Train? It’s a PBS show about a family of Pteranadons who travel throughout the dinosaur era meeting and learning about the different species. It’s a lot like Land Before Time, complete with the adopted T-Rex brother. Only even less believable due to that whole time-traveling train. And submarine. But it’s awesome and I love it and I frequently watch it even when Landry isn’t around.

This year, my favorite part of the party wasn’t planning a menu – the party wasn’t at home so I wanted the food basic and easily transportable – it was the favors. And making the printables. Because it was all orange and aqua and kiwi and dinosaurs. And only a little pink.

Dinosaur Tail

With the help of a 10-hour sewing lesson from my mom (who has the patience of a saint, y’all), we sewed dinosaur tails for each of Landry’s friends attending the party. Big, HUGE hit.

I had a party room full of 2-5 year old Bootyshakeasauruses. (It’s a word.) And I even ended up making an extra tail the week after the party for one of her friend’s sibling because apparently the girls were fighting over who got to wear the tail. Landry goes to sleep in hers at least twice a week :)

Bootyshakeasaurus

Because the party wasn’t at home (no “company cleaning” necessary!), I kept the menu short and easy.

Dinosaur Sugar Cookies

Menu
Ham & Cheese Sliders
Dinosaur-shaped* PB&J and Ham & Cheese sandwiches
Strawberry skewers with yogurt dip
Veggies & Homemade ranch for dipping
Cupcakes (fresh strawberry and vanilla) topped with strawberry buttercream and a Dinosaur Train smoke stack made out of marshmallow fondant (more on these next week)
Dinosaur-shaped* sugar cookies decorated with sugar cooking (not royal) icing

* I bought this dinosaur-shaped sandwich cutter and used it for the sandwiches and sugar cookies and used it to trace the decoration on the Thank you bags. And now, Landry only eats her sandwiches in the shapes of dinosaurs :)

Dinosaur Train Party Printables

Party Favors
Dinosaur tails (tutorial found on Pinterest from Tater Tots & Jello)
Thank you bags (dinosaur stickers, sugar cookies, and a DIY Dinosaur Train-themed coloring books… THAT I FORGOT TO PUT IN THE BAGS)

Dinosaur Train Party Printables - Thank you tags

Party Printables
Address labels
Buffet tags with the “Dinsoaur A to Z” theme (C is for Corythosaurus… and Carrots!)
Seating tags (L is for Lambeosaurus… and Landry!)
Thank you tags
4-page DIY coloring book

Dinosaur Train Labels

Dinosaur Tain Party Printables - Name tags

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How to Make Custom Water Bottle Labels

Those are the water bottles for our daughter’s 2nd birthday party. Cute, huh? And we made them ourselves. Oh, how I do love Pinterest!

We designed the labels in Inkscape, a free open source vector graphics program that’s similar to Illustrator, and printed them on 80lb white cardstock. Then I used a paper cutter to cut the labels apart and clear packing tape to stick them onto the bottle.

And that was it. (Note: If you’re interested in the files for these exact water labels, they are available with the other Cat in the Hat Party printables – you can find more information here.)

The upside: Besides being totally cute and completely customizable to match any party’s theme? They weren’t really labor- or time-intensive. By the time I decided to do water bottle labels, the decorations for the rest of the party were done so I easily converted one of the other pieces into a water bottle label.

The downside: If you use your home printer, the ink on the labels will not stand up to condensation. If you’re going to ice down your fancy-labeled water bottles, you’ll either want to have your files printed professionally (or, um, maybe pay a visit to that lonely printer up on the 4th floor that no one ever uses) or use already-designed paper (like scrapbooking stock).

How to Make Custom Water Bottle Labels

Materials needed
Clear packing tape, 2 inches wide
Custom labels or decorative paper, cut to 8.5 inches x 1.75 inches wide (double-check the circumference of your water bottle to make sure 8.5 inches will suffice)
Scissors
Water bottles, labels removed (I used store-brand 16.9 oz bottles)

Instructions
Unroll a long strip of tape on your work surface. (I left the tape connected to the roll at this point but you could go ahead and cut it to 9.5 inches if you have a ruler handy.)

How to Make Custom Water Bottle Labels

Leaving ~1/2-inch of tape at the end, carefully center your label across the 2-inch width of the packing tape and press into place. Lightly rub the back of the label to remove any air bubbles.

How to Make Custom Water Bottle Labels

Leave ~1/2-inch of tape on each side of the label and then cut the tape.

How to Make Custom Water Bottle Labels

Place the label onto the bottle – I lined up the top of the label with the first groove on the water bottle – and smooth. The ends of the label will slightly overlap.

How to Make Custom Water Bottle Labels

That’s it!

Inspired by: Glorious Treats via Pinterest.

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Dr Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cupcakes

I have been in love with the idea of Thing 1/Thing 2 cupcakes since they popped up online a couple of years ago. They really are absolutely perfect for a Dr. Seuss-inspired party or shower.

We baked our very favorite red velvet cupcake recipe in “greaseproof” (ahem, allegedly greaseproof) red and white-striped cupcake liners (although you can’t really tell there’s any white there) and topped that with a quick buttercream frosting. I chose that frosting because it crusts (and would hopefully make the cotton candy last a little longer), unlike my favorite cream cheese frosting – I frosted the cupcakes the night before, attached the labels, and then topped with cotton candy after the guests had arrived.

Dr. Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cupcakes

For the labels, we created 1.25-inch circles using Inkscape (a free, open-source vector graphics that’s similar to Illustrator) and a free “Dr. Soos” font. I attached those to the cupcakes with a drop of hot glue. And I didn’t burn myself, not once!

Dr. Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cupcakes

I purchased 3 containers of cotton candy from Oh Nuts! but only used 2 of them for 24 cupcakes. The cotton candy will begin to melt on contact with moisture so don’t top the cupcakes too far ahead of time before serving (your mileage will vary based on factors, like frosting type and humidity).

Thing 1 and Thing 2 Cupcakes

The perfect treat for a Dr. Seuss-inspired birthday party or shower: red velvet Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes topped with blue cotton candy.

Ingredients

  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp red gel food coloring (I used Americolor Red Red)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 sticks of butter, at room temp
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 Tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, optional
  • Blue cotton candy

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with baking liners or grease and flour the muffing cups.
  2. Cream butter and sugar on medium-high for two minutes. Mix in one egg at a time, beating after each addition.
  3. Turn mixer off and add food coloring and cocoa powder to bowl. Turn on low until just incorporated and then beat on medium for 4 minutes.
  4. Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda and set aside. Stir buttermilk and vanilla together. Add dry ingredients to the bowl in three batches, alternately with the buttermilk in two batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat on medium until just combined. Add sour cream and vinegar and beat on low until combined.
  5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 25-35 minutes until the cupcakes test done with a toothpick. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a rack.
  6. To make the frosting, place all ingredients except the vanilla bean in your mixer bowl. Beat on low just until you have no more dry streaks of powdered sugar.
  7. If using a vanilla bean, split the pod in half, scrape with the edge of your knife, and add the scrapings to the mixer bowl.
  8. Turn to high and whip for 3-4 minutes, until light, fluffy, and smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides.
  9. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip or simply scoop and spread frosting with a small knife or spatula.
  10. Let frosting crust - it should feel dry to the touch and not stick to your finger.
  11. Just before serving, pull off small pieces of cotton candy, fluffing the "hair" before lightly pressing into the frosting.
  12. Extra frosting can be stored in the fridge for quite a while and even longer in the freezer. Bring to room temp and whip for a couple of minutes before using.

Notes

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Estimated time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Source & Vendor Information
Cupcakes: Inspired by Annie’s Eats
Cotton Candy: Oh Nuts!
“Greaseproof” liners: Amazon
Thing 2 Labels: DIY
Dr. Seuss-inspired font: Dafont

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