A friend of mine’s daughter recently had a luau-themed birthday party and she asked me to help out with cake ideas. Twenty-three children, ages 2-10, were expected to attend! We discussed cake ideas, including a volcano cake, hula girl cake, and just regular old sheet cake, but we settled on cupcakes — one of my favorite things in the world to be honest with you.
I hit the internet looking for luau, hawaiian, or tropical cupcake ideas and came upon several pictures of sandy beaches and ocean waves, with some variety of items stuck on top — starfish, candy flip-flops, flowers, surfboards, teddy bears sitting in gummy rings (Haribo makes a good one — you can find them at World Market). But we settled on a flower.
So here are some tips on making these cupcakes. The cupcake itself was out of the box (I know, gasp!), but it was for kids and what kid doesn’t like the boxed funfetti cupcakes – plus the mom hosting the party was responsible for baking the cupcakes. I tend to agree – why waste time pureeing fresh fruit and getting all fancy for a bunch of kids who are just going to scarf down the cakes for the sugar. I did make a simple buttercream icing, which we then colored to our liking with gel food coloring.
After cooling, I iced half of the top of each cupcake with a thin layer of buttercream. The sand for the “beach” is just graham crackers, ground into a powder with a food processor. Holding the cupcake over the sink, I sprinkled the graham cracker crumbs over the buttercream and gave it a quick shake. Then, I used a wavy tip to make the blue ocean waves. Here’s another important tip – leave a little empty space on the beach sand side — so one little fingertip-sized area where there is no icing and no graham cracker b/c otherwise, whatever you choose to decorate the top of the “beach” with will not stick! I learned this after the first several frustrating attempts to pipe the flowers onto my cupcakes.
Stick in a paper umbrella and voila! Tiki luau cupcakes.
Oh, another word of caution, IF you should be hosting an outdoor party in 90+ degree heat, wait until the cupcakes are ready to be eaten to bring them outdoors. After an hour+ of sitting in the sun, it wasn’t pretty. The pristine ocean waves got a little drippy. Oh well, the kids didn’t mind at all. Gotta love kids!