Peep Sunflower Cake

There's a bounty of cupcakes hiding under this lovely sunflower, making it the perfect centerpiece for a springtime party. The adorable marshmallow chicks on top add a bit of whimsy too.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 24 servings
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Ingredients

24 of your favorite cupcakes

4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature  

8 cups confectioners' sugar  

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract  

Large pinch kosher salt  

4 to 6 tablespoons whole milk  

Leaf green gel food coloring, for the frosting 

Lemon yellow gel food coloring, for the frosting 

25 to 30 yellow marshmallow chicks, such as Peeps ®  

1/2 cup crumbled chocolate wafer cookies (about 20 cookies) 

Directions

Special equipment:
a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain round tip (number 802)
  1. Arrange 3 cupcakes vertically at the bottom of a large platter to form a stem. Arrange 2 cupcakes to the left and 2 cupcakes to the right of the stem to create leaves. Arrange the remaining 17 cupcakes at the top of the stem in a large circle.
  2. Combine the butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, salt and 4 tablespoons of the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if using a handheld electric mixer). Mix on low speed until mostly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium high and mix until smooth and spreadable. If the frosting is too thick to spread, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining milk and mix until spreadable. 
  3. Transfer 2 cups of the frosting to a medium bowl. Add about 12 drops of leaf green gel food coloring and mix to combine.  
  4. Add a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of the lemon yellow gel food coloring to the bowl of remaining white frosting and beat until combined. Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to scoop a large dollop of the yellow frosting onto each of the 17 cupcakes that make up the flower. Use a small offset spatula to smooth over the tops and sides of the cupcakes (but not the liners).  
  5. Wash and dry the ice cream scoop (or large spoon) and offset spatula. Use the ice cream scoop or large spoon to scoop a large dollop of the green frosting onto each of the 7 cupcakes that make up the stem and leaves. Use the small offset spatula to smooth over the tops and sides of the cupcakes (but not the liners). Scrape the remaining green frosting into a small pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain round tip (number 802).? 
  6. Pipe the outline of each leaf with the green frosting, then pipe a line of green frosting inside each leaf from the point to the stem. Pipe additional lines from side to side to create veins in the leaves. Use the offset spatula to square off the bottom of the stem.  
  7. Arrange the marshmallow chicks facing outward in a circle around the perimeter of the flower, pressing to adhere. Fill the center with the chocolate wafer crumbs and press to adhere to the frosting.