Ladybug Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cute as a bug, Marzipan ladybugs are nestled in Swiss Buttercream grass. This cupcake is made with a Yellow Butter Cake; however any flavor cupcake may be used. A pastry bag and #233 decorating tip are used to pipe the blades of “grass.”
Recipe type: Dessert | Cupcakes | Butter Cakes
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature (preferably whole milk)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
Marzipan Ladybugs:
  • See recipe for Marzipan
  • Red Food Coloring
  • Black Food Coloring
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Grass Green Food Coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two standard 12-cup muffin pans; line with paper cupcake liners.
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, stir the milk and vanilla together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  4. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the milk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill ⅔ full, using about ¼ cup of batter per cup. Tip: Avoid over-filling the liners which may cause the batter to run-over the sides when baking. It is better to bake any remaining batter separately after the first pan of cupcakes has finished baking.
  7. Bake: Bake, rotating pan halfway through, 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cakes are just firm and spring back when gently pressed, and a toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in cupcake pan, and turn out of pan when cool enough to handle. Repeat process with any remaining batter. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
Marzipan Ladybugs:
  1. Divide the marzipan in half so that one half is slightly larger than the other. Tint the larger portion red and tint the smaller portion black.
  2. Form a ½ inch ball of red marzipan for each ladybug body; flatten the ball slightly into an oval shape. Form a ball, less than ¼ inch of black marzipan for each head; press onto the body. Form small bits of black marzipan for the spots; press onto the body.
  3. Cover ladybugs with plastic wrap or place in a sealed container to keep them from drying out until ready to use.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:
  1. In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer combine egg whites, sugar, and salt; place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Using a wire whisk, whisk constantly by hand until the mixture is hot, about 3 to 5 minutes. Tip: the mixture should reach about 130 degrees using a candy or instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature, or feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips. Remove from heat.
  2. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high speed for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture forms a thick fluffy meringue and is cool. Tip: Touch the meringue and make sure it has cooled to room temperature. Also the outside of the bowl should feel cool to the touch.
  3. Stop the mixer, remove the whisk and attach the paddle. With the mixer on medium speed add the butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time and mixing 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. While adding the butter, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the Buttercream is thick and smooth, about another 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add green food coloring, a drop at a time and blend with the mixer. Add additional food coloring if necessary to reach the desired shade.
  5. Use a pastry bag with small multi-opening decorating tip #233 to pipe the frosting. Start in the middle and work outwards, piping rows of grass on top of the cupcake; With the tip on the surface of the cupcake, squeeze the pastry bag, then release while quickly pulling up to form ¼ inch long blades, making some slightly longer than others.
  6. Cover unused frosting tightly or place in an airtight container. Frosting can be stored in the refrigerator up to one or two weeks. Rewhip frosting when ready to use to bring it back to a fluffy texture.
  1. Place one or two ladybugs on top of each frosted cupcake, sitting them in the Buttercream grass.
Adapted From: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York, 2009
Recipe Notes
Pan: Two Standard 12-Cup Muffin Pans Pan Prep: Paper Liners Oven Temp: 350° Yield: 20 to 22 Cupcakes Storage: Covered, Room Temperature or Refrigerate

Help: Cake Hints and Tips, Buttercream Tips, Marzipan

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