So I know I’m a little late in doing this, because National Talk Like a Pirate Day was last Thursday the 19th, but I’m gonna go ahead and post these adorable pirate cupcakes. Because, hey, maybe you could make them for the next Talk Like a Pirate Day, or for a child’s birthday party, or because you just really, really have a thing for pirates, like one of those women at Disneyland who reportedly couldn’t keep their hands off the Jack Sparrow character. (Which, in all fairness, Disney denied, but you still have to wonder.)
Anyway, speaking of Disney, the road to me making pirate cupcakes (believe it or not, this is not something that would have occurred to my thirty-something adult self) started with a Disney TV show. My two-year-old is OBSESSED with Jake and the Neverland Pirates, the mercifully much less racially inflammatory spinoff of the movie Peter Pan. (Seriously, have you watched Peter Pan any time since like 1965? NOT OKAY.) Jake and his little band of child pirates take on Captain Hook, who seems to have mellowed in the sixty years since he disappeared into the sunset with a crocodile nipping at his bottom. Now he’s more of a petulant meddler than a bloodthirsty tyrant. My two-year-old constantly requests this show–and my four and six-year-old boys enjoy it plenty as well. I should also mention that months ago my four-year-old got a Jake and the Neverland Pirates play set that included a pirate hat and sword and has been inseparable from the sword ever since. He wears it tucked in the back of his shirt on a daily basis…just in case.
Recently, while I was scheduling playdates for our play group, I came upon a website that listed all the holidays in every month. “Holidays” being everything from excuse-to-eat days like National Chocolate Milkshake Day and the much less fun-sounding National Beheading Day. When I saw Talk Like a Pirate Day, I knew my kids would go nuts if we had a pirate-themed playdate. I put in on our playgroup calendar: a Pirate Picnic! Attendees were invited to meet us at the park dressed like pirates for a picnic lunch. I promised to provide cupcakes.
I found the idea for these delightful little guys on an event planning website, which has great, super detailed instructions on how to decorate these using certain frosting tip numbers, etc. I on the other hand don’t have any of those kinds of supplies, so here I will give you the quick and dirty, no-Wilton-cake-master-class-required version. Even decorated using just a Ziploc bag, I think they turned out pretty darling–or should I say dARRRRling?
(Recipes from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, Bridal Edition; decoration idea from Frilly Milly Events)
For the cupcakes:
1 c. and 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/3 c. baking cocoa
1/2 c. and 2 Tbsp. water
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. baking powder
For the frosting:
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. milk
For the pirate faces:
Red food coloring
Black cake gel
To make the cupcakes:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12-cup cupcake tin.
Beat all ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into cupcake tin.
Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting:
Mix powdered sugar and butter in a medium bowl by hand or with electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and 1 Tbsp. of the milk. Gradually beat in just enough of the remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable.
Once the frosting is made, mix 1/2 c. of frosting and 5-10 drops of red food coloring in a small bowl until desired red color is achieved. Place this frosting in a small Ziploc bag, pressing frosting down into one of the bottom corners of the bag. Squeeze excess air out of the bag and twist top shut. In the corner the frosting has been pressed into, use scissors to snip a very small hole (approximately the same size as the hole on the cake gel tube). Set aside.
Use remaining white frosting to evenly frost the cupcakes. For a smoother surface, press a clean, unpatterned paper towel over the top of the frosted cupcake. Take bagged red frosting and, starting 1/3 from the top of each cupcake, draw pirate bandanas over the top 1/3. Press a chocolate chip into the white frosting for an eye patch and draw the eye patch string and rest of the pirate face with black cake gel.
Makes 12 cupcakes.