So what did we try to tackle in this heat? Cupcakes with CHOCOLATE graduation cap toppers. What happens to chocolate when its hot? It MELTS!!!! So, this is not a project I would advise anyone to do this time of year if your house is not climate controlled.
I have seen so many great graduation cupcakes online, but by far the best have been by Glory of Glorious Treats. Her cupcakes are gorgeous, but I thought that I could make grad caps much tastier than the fondant ones.
So I thought chocolate!!!! Okay, so I will say upfront, we had some "make it work" moments that would have made Tim Gunn proud. Chocolate is quite messy at high temperatures, it won't set up, you can't touch anything with out melting it or leaving your fingerprints... I left quite a few on the caps, even though we eventually moved into my office where there is a room air conditioner, but in 90 degree weather that only does so much...
and then there's the humidity. Water and chocolate don't mix because when chocolate comes in contact with water it "blooms" which is a fancy way to say that it develops white spots all over your beautiful finished product. Again, the humidity in the kitchen was awful and it was only slightly better in the A/C. But we made do.
So here is how we made the grad caps... Kevin made peanut butter fudge which we cut into circles with a small cookie cutter. The cutter was about 7/8 of an inch and I then cut the circles to be about the same height. Refrigerate the fudge for a little while so its nice and firm for dipping.
I used a double boiler to melt my chocolate, but you can also use the microwave on a very low setting if you stir it often. Also, use really good chocolate!!!
Place a fudge circle on a fork and drizzle chocolate over top.
After the fudge is completely covered, tap the fork on the bowl until the excess chocolate drips off. Before you place the chocolate on wax or freezer paper to dry, drag the bottom of the fork against the edge of the bowl.
Normally, when I dip chocolates (instead of using molds) I let them set up at room temperature. These were not so cooperative, since our kitchen was sweltering, so I eventually put them in the fridge for a few moments until the chocolate hardened.
If you are short on time, you could skip a step and use these little gems... Same idea, less mess!
Only problem with using Reese's is that then you don' t have swiss cheese shaped peanut butter fudge left over! Now what could I possibly do with this? ;-)
To make the cap tops, print out a sheet of squares that are about 1.5-1.75 inches. Tape the sheet to a cookie sheet with painters tape and them tape a piece of wax or parchment paper over top. Pipe chocolate squares by tracing the outline and then filling it in. As you can see by the looks of my hand, chocolate can be messy, but this really isn't too hard. Place the cookie sheet in the fridge to let the chocolate set up. Once both parts are set up, gently remove the squares from the wax paper. For this task I used an offset spatula. Glue a square to the bottom of a fudge piece and let set up again.
For the cupcakes, I made the Chocolate Stout Cake that I made for my St. Patrick's Day post. For the frosting I made peanut butter buttercream. I wish I had a recipe to share with you, but the one I used was way too soft and I had to play with it to get the right consistency.
Once you pipe the buttercream on the cupcakes, place a chocolate graduation cap on top. What's left? The tassel of course! I was making these for some of my students who are going on to pursue a career in music/acting, so I piped a line of chocolate onto the cap and then covered it with star sprinkles. I did this with tweezers to keep everything neat.
Okay, so back to the humidity issue, you can see in the photo that there is condensation on the chocolate. This is because when you remove the chocolates from the fridge, the water in the air condenses on the chocolate. This may cause your chocolates to bloom, but we got really lucky.
Refrigerating chocolates is not usually a good idea, but of course buttercream must be stored in the fridge, so I wouldn't suggest making these days in advance of your graduation celebration.
I found these awesome boxes at Michael's as well as some premade creations by Making Memories that were ideal for budding performers. I thought the Reach for the Stars stickers were perfecto!
The package looked as pretty as the cupcakes which is always one of my top priorities! Again, I used a color scheme, gold, black and white which makes coordinating easy.So enjoy looking at the baked goods, because its too hot to bake now. I'll have to come up with something sweet that doesn't require the oven!
Congrats to all the grads out there!