A few weeks ago, we celebrated my oldest son’s sixth birthday. He settled on a sports-themed birthday this year, and decided that to go along with the theme he wanted to have sports cupcakes. I love making the kids’ birthday cupcakes, so that meant that I had to figure out how to actually make sports cupcakes.
My cupcake-decorating skills are amateur, at best. After six years of birthday parties I’ve got my cupcake swirl down, but I haven’t ventured much beyond that.
Like most of us, I took to Pinterest for inspiration. I found a few pictures of sports cupcakes to get me started, but I’m the type of person who needs step-by-step instructions, telling me exactly what I need to buy, and what I need to do.
If you’re the same, this post is for you! These cupcakes take a bit of time, but they’re super easy – if I can make them, trust me when I say that you can too!
Before we get to the decorating, we need to make the cupcakes. This is my favourite cupcake recipe. I never have buttermilk, so I use lemon juice and milk instead (1/2 Tbsp lemon juice mixed with 1/2 cup less 1/2 Tbsp milk – let sit for a few minutes before adding to the recipe), and the substitution works just fine.
This is my go-to vanilla buttercream icing recipe (I always use homo milk in place of heavy cream). Don’t skimp on the mix time – it makes all the difference!
I’m not a big chocolate icing fan, but I have a soft spot for my mom’s brownie icing. It’s not overly sweet, but it’s delicious. To make it, simply cream together:
- 2/3 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 Tbsp coffee (You can’t taste this, but I think it makes the icing extra rich. Feel free to omit it if you prefer.)
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
Tools and Supplies
To decorate the cupcakes, you’ll need:
- a knife or offset spatula
- piping bags
- basic round decorating tip (mine came as part of a starter kit – it’s about 4 mm in diameter)
- Wilton tip #233
- Wilton black decorating gel
- Wilton red decorating gel
- Wilton Kelly Green concentrated icing colour
- Wilton Lemon Yellow concentrated icing colour
- orange nonpareils or sanding sugar (you may also want to use orange icing)
- soccer balls
The inspiration for the soccer cupcakes came from Mama Writes – check out her post for the details. The soccer balls we used were foil-wrapped chocolates that we found at our local bulk food store. When piping on the grass, I found it easiest to start at the center of the cupcake and work my way out.
Related: 16 Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers
Ideally, we would have used orange nonpareils to give the basketballs a realistic texture. I wasn’t able to find them, so we settled for orange sugar. Use white or orange icing for the base, then dip the frosted cupcake in the sprinkles. Use the black decorating gel for the lines.
These were the simplest – chocolate icing for the base, and pipe on the laces with white buttercream.
The only challenging part here was getting the colour right. I used Lemon Yellow icing gel, with a tiny bit of Kelly Green. The green is very overpowering, so start with a very small amount – you can always add more. Pipe on the lines with white buttercream.
The baseball cupcakes were the ones I was most worried about, as I don’t have a very steady hand. A few tips: trace the line for your seam with a toothpick first – it will give you a guide to follow when you’re adding the stitches. When you open the red decorating gel, make a small hole instead of cutting off the tip. Then, just take it slow!
Enjoy! Let me know if you make these, I’d love to hear how they turn out!