Sweltering Summer is here & the garden is flourishing fabulously, although the heatwave has played havoc with plans for doing any gardening! The bees have been busy collecting their nectar & blossoms are blooming in abundance, inspiring me to create some Summery sugar art.
As you may have seen on my social media, I love making sugar shoes (usually with some of my handmade sugar paste roses perched prettily on top). They’re definitely not for eating though, as they set like porcelain (plus it takes me at least a couple of days to make everything & I might just cry). Simple or sassy, shoes are a wonderful way to bring a smile & shouldn’t just be for your feet! Since I began making my fancy footwear, I have tried all kinds of techniques, tools & templates, but always end up using a pair of my favourite shoes as a general guide. If I’m honest, I prefer to make each one “freehand” so I’m creating something unique & special each time.
My first foray into edible footwear was making swirly stiletto cupcakes for a girly afternoon tea party with friends a few years ago. At that point, the only cake decorating I’d done was a few blobs of buttercream frosting & although they have evolved considerably since then, I still like to make my little cupcake shoes for special occasions. These sumptuously sweet stilettos are really easy to make & baking beginner friendly – the hardest part is deciding how to decorate them. Because I wanted this to be for everyone’s level of ability, I would suggest using ready-made biscuits for the sole & heel in this recipe. Ready to bake it happen? Hands washed, aprons on & here we go!
What you need:
For the Cupcakes (12):
2 large Eggs
4oz Butter (unsalted & room temperature, slightly softened)
3oz Self-Raising Flour
1oz Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Instant Coffee (trust me on this, it will make the chocolate flavour more chocolatey)
4oz Sugar (I use my homemade vanilla sugar – pop a vanilla pod in a jar of sugar overnight & that’s it!)
A splash of Semi-Skimmed Milk (about 2 teaspoonsful)
For the Buttercream:
6oz Butter (unsalted, room temperature)
12oz Icing Sugar
A few drops of your favourite food colour (try using the gel colours, as the ones from the supermarket tend to make your mixture go watery & the colours weak – I use PME Cake Decorating natural food colours)
(If you’re going to pipe flowers, remember to colour a small amount of the buttercream green for the leaves)
12 Chocolate Finger Biscuits or Ice Cream Cones (for the heels)
12 Plain long flat Biscuits (such as Langue-de-Chat biscuits)
(Tip: have some spares in case of breakages)
Edible Glitter, Pearls, Sugar Strands, Jelly Sweets or Sugar Flowers (you can buy these ready-made in supermarkets)
What to do:
First of all, pre-heat the oven to 190*C. Prepare your tray – get a patty tin & line with a dozen cupcake cases, then set aside while you make the cake mixture.
Put the butter & sugar into a large mixing bowl. Give it all a good whisk with the electric mixer (or a wooden spoon) until it turns a pale golden cream colour.
Add an egg to the mixture, then slowly mix this in to begin with until just combined. Give it a firm whisking until the mixture is smooth. Repeat with the second egg.
Stir the coffee & cocoa powder into the flour, then sift it into the wet mixture. Fold the flour in using a spatula or a metal spoon & making smooth figure of eight movements to incorporate the flour into the wet mixture. A metal spoon will cut any air bubbles, whereas a wooden spoon will knock them out & you’ve just spent ages whisking them in.
Once your mixture is completely smooth, divide as equally as you can into the cupcake cases.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 18-20 minutes, depending on your oven, until they are nicely risen. To check if they are cooked, get a spaghetti stem & poke it in the middle – if it comes out clean, they’re done.
Remove your cupcakes from the tray & pop them onto a cooling rack. Leave until fully cooled.
Now you’re ready to start decorating & will need your buttercream. Put the butter in a bowl & beat until smooth, then spread it around the base of your bowl (so the sugar will stick to it).
Carefully, without causing a dust cloud, tip all the icing sugar on top of the butter.
Get a spatula & press the sugar into the butter, scooping it in from the sides of the bowl, flipping it over & repeating. It will only take you a few moments & your arm might ache a bit, but it will create a smooth buttercream without the puff of sugar an electric mixer would give you!
Once combined, you’re ready to start getting creative with your cupcakes! If you’re colouring your buttercream, add a couple of drops of colour & whisk into the mixture , adding a little more until you get the colour you like (please read the instructions on the bottle). Usually, I only add about 4 drops as these gel colours are quite true to colour & don’t require much.
Once you’re happy with your buttercream, pop in a piping bag with your preferred nozzle & get swirling! For a large swirl covering the whole cake, start at the outer edge & pipe slowly around your cupcake, heading towards the centre & finish with a swirl in the middle. If you’re not sure how, my tip is to practise on a piece of greaseproof paper a few times beforehand. You can always scoop the buttercream back into the piping bag when you’re ready (no point in wasting all that hard work you’ve put in!).
Put the cupcakes on the serving plate or board that you will be using to present them (once they’re made, you want to be able to move them easily). Leave a couple of inches space between them.
Push a biscuit into the buttercream roughly at a 45 degree angle & put your “heel” under the free end of the biscuit. Use a splodge of buttercream to hold it in place & pipe a swirl or two to make it look pretty.
Time to add some sparkle! Decorate the buttercream on your cupcake “toes” with a sprinkle of edible glitter, pearls, sugar strands, jelly sweets or sugar flowers – it’s your creation, so make it how you like! Use long multi-coloured sugar laces to create bows or straps on your heels too – try plaiting a few together to make a thicker shoe strap. Because I had some sugar paste leftover, I made a few roses & leaves for the ones pictured.
That’s it! Your sparkly shoes are ready to serve! These are perfect for all kinds of celebrations – afternoon tea, birthdays, Princess parties, wedding or baby showers. Because they’re so easy to make, these are brilliant for any budding bakers who want to get creative. They also make the perfect gifts too.
Next time you’re having a few friends over for a special occasion, why not kick it off with some handmade sweet shoe treats & make my Cupcake Chocolat-toes! Stay hungry! A 😉 x