Graduation Cupcakes


I've finally graduated!! As a baking nerd, I've made the obvious choice of translating that euphoria into cupcakes instead of flooding into parties and clubs to let that 3 years worth of hair down. Hence, I present to you straight from the convocation, the Graduation Cupcakes.  

The graduation caps (motar board) toppers were made from modeling chocolate and fondant. I initially wanted to use chocolate squares and Reese peanut butter cups but I thought using modeling chocolate would allow me to create a more realistic look. The thing is, I had never made modeling chocolate and it turned out rather disastrous. I used a ratio of about 200g of dark chocolate to 60g of light corn syrup but it turned out really watery and took about 3 nights to stiffen up.


To make the toppers, roll a small chunk of modeling chocolate into a circle and flattened it a little- we will call this the flat-top circle. Once you've made enough flat-top circles, roll out a sheet of modeling chocolate to about 3/16 inch thick. I have these Wilton Guide Rings but I was too lazy to use them so I simply flattened the chocolate with my hand. Cut out squares that are about 1.5 x 1.5 inch. Lay the chocolate squares down on your parchment paper, and set a flat-top circle on it. Modeling chocolate hardens up pretty fast at room temperature so you can start making your tassels.
Roll a small ball of fondant (mine was white mixed with yellow gel colouring) into a thin snake. Cut them into shorter pieces and use your finger to flatten one end. Use a sharp paring knife to cut the 'tassels'. Be careful here, do not cut the tassels too close as they will come right off and you'll end up with no tassels. At this point, you can either flatten the other end a little and attach it to the middle of the chocolate squares and secure it with another small circle of modeling chocolate or just leave the tassel without the extra circle. Leave the graduation caps to set for a few hours of overnight.

For the cupcakes, I used a scaled down version of the Six Layer Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream recipe and piped the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream using a Wilton 1M tip.

Graduation Cupcakes

Yields: 9 to 12 standard cupcakes
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
95g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
112g (1/2 cup) castor sugar
30g (1/4 cup) dark cocoa powder
3/4 tsp (3.5 g) baking soda
3/4 tsp (3.5 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (4 g) salt
80ml (1/3 cup) buttermilk
60ml (1/4 cup) espresso or strong, hot brewed coffee
45ml (3 tbsp) vegetable oil
1 egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) pure vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
150g fresh egg whites, about 5 eggs
250g (1-1/4 cups) sugar
340g (3 sticks) butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold*
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Print this recipe
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 180°C (350° F) and line a muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt).

In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed, divide batter among liners (fill liners to about 2/3 full or slightly lesser). Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.  

For the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.

Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 71°C (160°F), or if you don't have a candy thermometer, whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot*.

With the whisk attachment of your mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.

Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If the mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.

I only used half of the SMBC recipe, which was just enough for my 9 cupcakes. If you like more frosting, you should make the full recipe.

To test if the egg whites are ready, rub the egg whites/ sugar mixture between your fingers. If it feels gritty, the sugar has not melted yet.

In my hot and humid kitchen, I use the butter almost right out of the refrigerator

(Recipe by Bake & Bait)


  1. These look amazing, such a great idea! I love the sound of them too, vanilla swiss meringue buttercream on chocolate cupcakes sounds so good!

    1. Thanks Rosie, do try the recipe and let me know how it goes! I would love to try your vanilla and raspberry jam cupcakes as well!

  2. Just gave you a shout out! Thanks for the inspiration!