Monkey Cupcakes are such a cute dessert idea, you may not want to eat them! These delicious homemade chocolate cupcakes are made with chocolate sanding sugar and vanilla wafer ears! Perfect for a monkey themed birthday party!
I saw this pin on Pinterest and decided to make it my Friday night project. Our nephew had his 3rd birthday party on Saturday and I used that as my excuse.
I used the same chocolate cupcake recipe I used in the pandas but this time, I filled the centers with fluffy buttercream. I’ve never said this before, but I think I found an amazing buttercream I like. Most recipes call for unsalted butter but I like to use salted to balance the sugar
Total personal preference.
You could also make this with a box cake mix & store bought frosting. Again, up to you.
Things I learned while making these easy cupcakes:
- Chocolate Sanding Sugar is not super easy to find. I had to go to three Michaels before I found it. I recommend ordering it on Amazon.
- Cutting mini Nilla wafers in half is not easy to do without crushing them. Using a butter knife & even pressure ended up working best for me.
SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED FOR DECORATING MONKEY CUPCAKES:
- Mini Nilla wafers
- Chocolate Sanding Sugar – I had to try 3 Michaels before I found this so call first if you’re not ordering it
- Candy Eyeballs – I actually think they’re kinda creepy as they come, so I flip them upside down & use black gel icing to make pupils.
- Black gel icing – You could also use melted chocolate, if you prefer.
- Piping bag & tip – Or you could just frost them with a knife – you’re going to cover the frosting with the sanding sugar so it doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be thick enough for you to be able to stick the Nilla wafers into.
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2/3 cup hot water
For the Vanilla Buttercream
- 1.5 sticks salted butter softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
- Line your cupcake pans with liners and set aside (I made 24 minis & 10 full size).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt with a whisk.
- Add the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk and mix until combined. It will be very thick at this point.
- I switched to a wooden spoon and added the hot water. Mix until fully incorporated. Now batter will be thin.
- Fill the liners about 3/4 full and bake for full size – 12-15 minutes, minis – around 10 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely before you start decorating.
For the Buttercream
- Make sure you start with softened butter. I used my stand mixer but a hand mixer will work fine, too.
- With the paddle attachment, whip the butter until it starts to get smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix on high for 3 to 4 minutes.
- If you use UNsalted butter, you’ll want to add a pinch of salt. I started with salted butter so there’s no need.
For the Decorating
- Once cooled, core out the center of your cupcakes (if you want to fill them with buttercream). I used some type of apple corer to do this (I’m not sure exactly what it’s intended use is, I just found it in my drawer).
- Using a piping bag (or ziploc bag with a tip), fill the center with some frosting then replace the top. Frost with the buttercream. It doesn’t have to be particularly pretty, you’re going to cover it up with sprinkles anyway.
- Fill a bowl with the sanding sugar, flip the cupcake over and gently smush into the sprinkles to fully coat.
- Cut some vanilla wafers in half for the ears (gently! this part is tricky. they were shooting all over when I was cutting them) and stick on each side of the cupcake.
- Add a whole vanilla wafer for the mouth and use gel icing (or melted chocolate) to draw on the mouth & nose. I gave mine different faces & personalities.
- I bought pre-made eyeballs, but I didn’t like them, so I flipped them over and drew on my own pupils with the icing.
Sources: Slight modifications to chocolate cupcakes (Bakerella) & buttercream (Sally's Baking Addiction)
Makes: 24 mini & 10 full size cupcakes with enough frosting to fill half & frost all (I only turned the full size cupcakes into monkeys)
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Need more ideas? Here are 112 Birthday Cake Ideas for Boys