Here's a proposal that doesn't require a bended knee: Serve a pint-size pillow of cake with a sweet candy sparkler tucked on top. Moist carrot cake, a cloud of cream-cheese frosting, and a smooth fondant overlay complete the conceit.
- Yield: Makes 84 mini cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2009
For the Cupcakes
- 1 pound carrots, finely grated
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Assembly
- 3 pounds rolled fondant
- Pearl dust in silver
- 84 edible cake jewels
Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line mini muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together carrots, eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla-bean seeds, and raisins. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.
Divide batter among liners, filling 3/4 full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 23 to 28 minutes, rotating tins halfway through. Transfer tins to racks to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from tins; let cool completely.
Make frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar. Continue to beat while adding remaining sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Add vanilla, and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
To assemble each cupcake: Dollop 1 teaspoon frosting onto cupcake (do not spread to edges). Roll out fondant 1/8 inch thick and cut a 2-inch circle. Gently place fondant over cupcake, creating a pillowlike shape. With a knife, cut a 3/4-inch slit in fondant. To make the ring, roll a small piece of fondant into a rope about 1/16 inch thick; cut to be 1 1/2 inches long. Brush with pearl dust, and shape into a horseshoe. Place curved side of ring in slit, and let stand about 10 minutes to set. Trim tiny edge from top ends of ring to remove the dry tips and create a flat edge. Lightly moisten ring (this will also help remove the dull finish). Set jewel carefully in place, and let dry.