Ever since I saw pictures of a hamburger birthday cake earlier this year, I have been itching to make one. It seemed like one of those where the result makes the actual effort required appear much greater than it really is. And it just looked so cute!
Unfortunately, there have been no burger-appropriate birthdays since then, and it remained just a plan. Then, a few months ago, I came across Hamburger Cupcakes, which were just as cute, and didn’t need an excuse to be attempted (one Never needs an excuse to make and/or eat cupcakes!)
As with most creative cupcakes, the art is in the icing and decoration, and not the cupcake itself, and these were surprisingly easy to make.
As always, I used my go-to cupcake recipe: Jenny Colgan’s Failsafe Vanilla Cupcakes. The only difference was adding cocoa to the mixture for 3 of the cupcakes, so that there were 9 vanilla and 3 chocolate in the batch of 12.
Ingredients (makes 9 hamburgers)
9 vanilla and 3 chocolate cupcakes
Green food colouring
Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup hot water
Candy vermicelli (Many people use sesame seeds, but I worry about allergies, and children who just don’t like them)
12 cup muffin tin
Non-stick cooking spray
3 paper muffin cups
3 knives (one for each colour icing)
Small microwavable bowl
Cupcakes (buns and burgers)
- Spray the muffin tin well with non-stick spray, and place 3 paper cups in the tin.
- Prepare a vanilla cupcake batter as per the chosen recipe.
- Measure out batter for 9 of the cupcakes, and place directly into the tin (this is to ensure a smooth “bun” and so that the “buns” are golden brown rather than pale).
- Stir cocoa into the remaining batter, a teaspoon at a time, until it is as dark as you like it (I used about 1.5 teaspoons for reasonably “chargrilled” burgers)
- Distribute this cocoa batter into the 3 paper cups (You don’t necessarily have to use the paper cups, but it does give the “burgers” rougher edges and makes them more realistic and different from the “buns”.)
- Bake according to instructions. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.
- When cooled, cut the vanilla cupcakes in half with a serrated knife. Cut the chocolate cupcakes in thirds, levelling any peaks off the top if necessary. (Use a light touch and a gentle sawing motion)
(Lettuce and Mustard)
- Prepare a basic buttercream icing (see Jenny Colgan’s Failsafe Vanilla Cupcakes).
- Separate the icing into two bowls – more for the “lettuce” (there are 2 layers of lettuce), slightly less for the “mustard”.
- Add some extra icing sugar to the icing to be used for the lettuce – you want this to be fairly stiff and “rough”.
- Add just a drop or two of green food colouring to the larger amount (you want the lettuce to be a light green).
- Add 2-3 drops of yellow food colouring to the lesser amount of buttercream icing, until a mustard sauce colour is achieved.
The red liquid food colouring we get in South Africa does not make buttercream icing red, but rather a deep pink colour. I really wanted the “tomato sauce” to be red, so decided to make a thick water icing for this element. The red colouring on its own made the icing an almost beetroot red, so I added a drop of yellow colouring which perfected the colour.
You only need a small quantity of this sauce to contrast the mustard, so I mixed a few teaspoons of icing sugar with little bits of hot water and drops of red colouring and the drop of yellow colouring until I was happy with the result. Do remember that the colouring drops count as liquid to the icing, so don’t add too much water to the icing initially, you do not want the icing to be too thin and runny.
Sesame seed topping
- Finely chop vermicelli or similar candy toppings to create small even-sized “sesame seeds”.
- Place ¼ cup of white sugar and a ¼ cup of hot water in a small microwavable bowl. Heat in 30 second bursts at 100%, until the mixture boils and all the sugar has dissolved. (This is a simple syrup – a baking glaze to help the “sesame seeds” stick to the cupcakes.)
- Roughly ice the bottom half of each vanilla cupcake with green icing, focusing on the edges and aiming to have a little of the icing on the sides.
- Place a slice of chocolate cupcake on top of the green icing.
- Smooth a reasonable layer of yellow icing on top of the chocolate cake, allowing it to drip over the sides in places.
- Using a teaspoon and toothpick (or kebab skewer) drizzle the red icing over the yellow icing, again allowing some to drip over the edges and sides.
- Roughly ice a thin layer of green icing on the underside of the tops of the vanilla cupcakes, again aiming for visibility around the edges.
- Place the tops on each burger.
- Lightly brush the top of each hamburger with the syrup, and sprinkle with the chopped vermicelli.
- Dig in!