Monet's Water Lily Flower Cupcakes

From 6 Bittersweets
Recipe from Cupcakes, Cookies & Pie, Oh, My!
© Karen Tack and Alan Richardson 2012
Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Makes 1 lily pond; 12 mini cupcakes

Make an impression of your own version of Monet's water lilies, created with white chocolate and the back of a plastic spoon. The candy petals are artfully placed on cupcake lily pads floating in a pool of cobalt-blue Jell-O.

XIAOLU'S NOTES: When making the petals, make sure to coat the spoons with melted chocolate of a decent thickness. I cracked a dozen petals before I realized it was because the chocolate wasn't thick enough. You should also run your nail along the edges of the spoon before you try to unmold the petals to make sure none of the sides get stuck and cause the petal to break during unmolding. I had a little difficulty with assembling the petals into actual flowers. The melted chocolate simply wasn't thick enough to hold the petals up right away. You'll have the hold the petals partially upright for at least a few seconds to allow the chocolate to set. In addition to the dime-sized circle of melted chocolate that serves as the base of each flower, I recommend that you also pipe 1/4-inch wide dots of melted chocolate at the base of each petal before layering the next petal on top. This will provide additional support to hold the flower together.

2 packages (3 ounces each) blue gelatin dessert (Jell-O)
2 cups white candy melting wafers (Wilton)
Plastic spoons
1 1/4 cups canned vanilla frosting
Red and green food coloring
12 mini vanilla cupcakes
2 tsp yellow sprinkles

Follow the package directions for the blue gelatin dessert. Pour the prepared gelatin into a large shallow serving dish that can hold 1 quart. Refrigerate until the gelatin is set, at least 3 hours.

For the petals, line 3 cookie sheets with waxed paper. Place the white candy melts in a glass bowl. Microwave for 10 seconds, stir, and repeat until the candies are melted and smooth, about 1 minute. Dip the back of a plastic spoon (this NEEDS to be plastic) into the melted candy to coat, making sure that the candy does NOT go over the edge of the spoon. Allow the excess candy to drip back into the bowl. Transfer the coated spoon, candy side up, to a cookie sheet. Repeat with more spoons. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.

Remove the petals from the refrigerator and let stand for 1 minute. Carefully bend the backs of the spoons to release the candy. Transfer the candies to a cookie sheet. Any broken pieces can be melted again with the remaining candy. If the candy becomes too thick, return to the microwave and heat for 10 seconds, stirring frequently, until smooth. Repeat the dipping, chilling, and releasing steps to make about 80 petals. (The petals can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in an airtight container.)

Tin 1/4 cup of the vanilla frosting pale pink with the red food coloring. Spoon the pink frosting into a ziplock bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Tint the remaining frosting bright green with the food coloring.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Spoon any extra melted candy into a ziplock bag (do NOT seal the bag). Microwave for 5 seconds, massage the candy in the bag, return to the microwave and repeat the process until the candy is smooth, about 20 seconds. Press out the excess air and seal the bag.

For the flower, snip a small (1/8-inch) corner from the bag with the melted candy. Pipe a dot of melted candy the size of a dime onto the waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Arrange 3 to 5 of the candy petals, overlapping slightly, with the larger end of each petal in the melted candy, to make the flower shape (see photo). Repeat to make about 15 flowers. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.

Snip a small (1/8-inch) corner from the bag with the pink frosting and pipe the corners of the flowers using the squeeze-release-pull technique (see page 75 ofCupcakes, Cookies & Pie, Oh, My!). Sprinkle with the yellow sprinkles. Use a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or a carving knife to cut out eight 1 1/2-inch circles from the chilled gelatin. Spread the green frosting on top of the mini cupcakes. Remove the paper liners from 8 of the cupcakes and place in the openings in the gelatin. Arrange the flowers on top of the mini cupcakes, pressing into the frosting to secure, and add some flowers to the gelatin surface.

Serve the extra mini cupcakes and flowers with the gelatin.