How to Make Adorable Popcorn Cupcakes

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What better dessert for a kid-centered outdoor movie night than popcorn cupcakes?   The cupcakes are topped with marshmallows toasted to look like perfectly popped popcorn, and they're baked in red striped baking cups, so the whole cupcake looks like a miniature tub of popcorn.

Collage of popcorn cupcakes optimized for pinterest

The kids at the movie night went absolutely nuts for these adorable popcorn cupcakes!

How to make Popcorn Cupcakes

Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes baked in red and white striped paper baking cups to make popcorn cupcakes

Bake your favorite cupcake recipe right in grease-proof striped baking cups.   The paper of the cup is sturdy, so you don't need to use a cupcake tin, and thick enough that even the darkest chocolate cupcakes didn't mar the look of the red and white stripes.

If you're using regular red and white striped cupcake liners (like these), I'd stick to a lighter colored cupcake flavor (like vanilla, or funfetti).  If your heart is set on chocolate and you only have regular cupcake wrappers, I'd actually bake the cupcakes in plain, inexpensive white cupcake wrappers, and use the red and white cupcake wrappers as a second decorative wrapper added after you've baked the cupcakes.

Decorating The Popcorn Cupcakes with Marshmallows

Chocolate cupcake baked in a red and white paper baking cup, brushed with clear corn syrup to make popcorn cupcakes.

I needed to get the marshmallows to stick to the tops of my cupcakes, but I didn't want to use regular buttercream icing, which would melt when I got to the step of toasting the marshmallows.  The easiest solution was using light corn syrup as a sweet, edible, sticky glue for my popcorn cupcakes.

Let the baked cupcakes cool completely, then paint the tops of the cupcakes with corn syrup.

Baked cupcakes in red and white baking cups being covered with mini marshmallows.

Arrange the mini marshmallows on the sticky domes of the cupcakes, packing them tightly so that as little of the cupcake shows as possible.  

On some of the cupcakes, I snipped the marshmallows almost in half with a pair of kitchen scissors.  It looked cute, but not dramatically better than just using unaltered mini marshmallows.  

Three popcorn cupcakes sitting on a red cake plate.

Since I was making 150 cupcakes, I opted for the still-awesome-but-less-time-consuming variation.

Cupcake topped with toasted marshmallows to make popcorn cupcakes.

Place the marshmallow-topped cupcakes back in the oven, but this time under the broiler. Only for a few seconds, though! Watch the cupcakes very carefully; you're looking for the marshmallows to puff and brown slightly.   

I ended up doing four or six cupcakes at a time under the broiler.  More seemed to be a little too much to handle for this delicate operation.  I only had to hear my daughter exclaim "Mommy!  The cupcakes are on fire!" once to learn this lesson.  ;-)  Don't get distracted and try to do anything else while doing the broiling step like I did!

Three tiered red cake stand covered in popcorn cupcakes cupcakes baked in red and white striped baking cups.

When the marshmallows begin to brown, remove immediately from the oven and let cool. You'll have a sweet simulacrum of popcorn perfect for a summer evening watching movies with friends and family.

Three tiered red cake stand covered in popcorn cupcakes.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Firefly Theater party and much more in the latest issue of Festivities magazine!

Other Cupcake Tutorials You Might Like:

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Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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