The Best Baking Tips We've Ever Published

It's time to polish that Best Baker on the Block trophy, because these no-fail tips will take your baking to the next level.

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Bloody Mary Recipes

Whip up an amazing Bloody Mary recipe from our wide selection of beverages featuring variations made with vodka, tequila, and even beer. Plus, we throw in ideas for unique drink garnishes, along with our best tips for hosting a cocktail party. Cheers!

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All-Time Favorite Christmas Cookies

It's simple: These very merry Christmas cookie recipes are favorites that you'll want to save, hand down, and make again and again. We've got all the classics, including sugar cookie recipes, Christmas spritz cookies, and spiced gingerbread recipes. Try one of our cookie recipes to share this Christmas!

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60-Minute (and Under) Dinner Rolls

One of the most time-consuming parts of any holiday meal: making the dinner rolls. With the time it takes to prepare the dough, wait for it to rise, and bake, traditional dinner roll recipes can be an all-day affair! Making dinner rolls doesn't have to take all day, though. Whether you make them from scratch or start with a little extra help, you can make delicious dinner rolls in just one hour. So, make preparing your holiday dinner a little easier with these eight quick dinner roll recipes that are all ready in 60 minutes or less!

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Snowman Jars You Can Make in Bulk for Christmas Gifting

Add a frosty flare to your mason jars with this holiday craft that you can make for anyone on your gift list.

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Birthday Cakes and Cupcakes for Girls

Whether you have an athlete or a princess, these cakes and cupcakes will thrill your birthday girl. With creative ideas and simple techniques, cakes and cupcakes are transformed into birthday treats that party guests will adore. These ideas work well with a purchased cake or cupcakes, or bake your cake from scratch using our recipe suggestions.


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    • Cute Owl Cake

      We're not sure which we like better -- the wide-eyed mama owl cake or the mini baby owl cupcake. Whichever you choose, any kid will love this cute, delicious, and suprisingly easy cake.

      For the baby owl cupcakes:

      Frost twelve 2 1/2-inch cupcakes in paper bake cups (any flavor) with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting and yellow-tinted Butter Frosting as directed; insert rows of almond slices into yellow frosting for feathers. For each cupcake, place two chocolate pieces on top of head for "ear" feathers. Add two white candy coating discs for eyes; attach two brown miniature candy-coated chocolate pieces to centers of candy discs using yellow frosting. Add orange miniature candy-coated chocolate pieces for a beak and four claws.

    • Princess Birthday Cupcakes

      Every girl is a princess on her birthday. These birthday cupcakes proudly display the tall hat and flowing ribbons of a fairy-tale princess

      Place flat tart taffy candy, such as Airheads, on waxed paper. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 5 seconds. Flatten candies and cut into ribbons; set aside.

      Tint decorating frosting pink or to desired color. Place the frosting in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 20 to 30 seconds or just until melted. Stir well and set aside to cool slightly

      Frost cupcakes with white frosting. Lightly cover; set aside.

      When melted frosting is cooled but still pourable, hold a rolled sugar ice cream cone over the bowl, and spoon melted frosting over cone to cover, allowing excess to drip into bowl. Place frosted ice cream cones, pointed ends up, on a wire rack set over waxed paper

      While frosting is still wet, decorate cones with multicolor sprinkles. Press one end of a taffy ribbon into the top of each cone, letting ribbon spiral down cone.

      Chill cones about 30 minutes or until firm.

      Place white frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip; pipe designs on cones. Let cones dry completely.

      Place cones on top of frosted cupcakes, pressing into frosting to secure. Arrange small decorative candies around bottoms of cones

    • Candy Polka-Dot Cake

      Make this cake an even bigger birthday surprise. Use food coloring to tint each layer of the cake a different pastel color.

      Spread about 1/2 cup fluffy white frosting on top of one 8- or 9-inch square white cake layer. Top with a second square cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake.

      Arrange pastel-color round wafer candies on top and sides of cake in a random polka-dot pattern. If desired, arrange pastel-color candy-coated milk chocolate pieces around bottom edge of cake.

    • Lollipop Flower Cupcakes

      How sweet! Lollipop flowers sprout out of this birthday cupcake. Let your child help make this easy garden grow in all the colors of the rainbow or in a color scheme that matches the party.

      Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

      Sprinkle crushed vanilla and chocolate wafer cookies on frosting; insert an unwrapped lollipop into the center.

      On a sugared surface, roll out green jelly candy and cut into leaf shapes. Gently press into frosting at base of lollipop to make flower.

    • Basketball Star Cupcakes

      The birthday girl and all her party guests will make a fast break for the treat table when they see these basketball cupcakes. You'll cheer for the simplicity of the decorating.

      Place green decorating frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or multiopening (grass) tip. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes to resemble grass.

      In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave orange candy coating disks on 100 percent power (high) for 1 minute. Stir; microwave for 30 to 60 seconds more or until melted, stirring once more.

      Using a fork, dip doughnut holes, one at a time, into melted candy coating, turning to coat completely. Place on waxed paper until set.

      Use a tube of chocolate icing to pipe lines onto coated doughnut holes to resemble basketballs. Place a decorated doughnut hole on each cupcake.

    • Silly Confetti Birthday Cupcakes

      Frosting streamers and confetti sprinkles scatter in festive disarray over these party-theme cupcakes. There's a birthday party in every bite -- and the decorating is easy enough to let the birthday girl take part.

      Spread or pipe white frosting over cupcakes. Sprinkle with multicolor confetti sprinkles

      Tint white frosting various colors (such as pink, lavender, and other fun party colors) with paste food coloring.

      Place different colors of frostings in separate heavy resealable plastic bags. Snip off a very small piece from one corner of each bag. Pipe strands of colored frostings over cupcakes and serving plate to look like streamers.

    • Lazy-Daisy Mini Cupcakes

      This garden blooms with birthday cupcakes. Plant colorful cupcake pops in tiny clay pots for each party guest, or fill a bigger pot with a bouquet of cupcake flowers. For a crowd, plant rows of cupcake flowers in a green-frosted sheet cake.

      Frost mini cupcakes with white frosting.

      On a sugared surface, flatten a small gumdrop using a rolling pin or your fingers; snip to resemble flower petals. Place on frosted cupcake with a small round or oval candy in the center to mimic a flower.

      Using a small sharp knife, cut a small slit into the bottom of each cupcake, cutting through paper liner and partway into bottom of cupcake. Insert a lollipop stick into bottom of each cupcake.

      Fill a small pot with florist's foam to hold the cupcake pops. Top with jelly bean "stones." Add a few bay leaves, if desired.

    • Go Bowling Birthday Cake

      You'll earn a perfect score for this bowling-pin-and-ball cake. Easy to assemble and decorate, this cake leaves plenty of spare time!

      Prepare, bake, and cool two 13x9-inch cakes.

      Change oven setting to 325 degrees F. Grease a 6-inch ovenproof bowl. Mix the batter for a 1-layer-size cake according to directions. Spread evenly in prepared bowl. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake in bowl on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake from bowl; cool completely on wire rack.

      Frost one 13x9-inch cake with yellow frosting.

      Trim the remaining 13x9-inch cake into the shape of a bowling pin. Place on top of the yellow-frosted cake. Frost bowling pin layer with white frosting.

      Trim the 6-inch round cake to make a flat bottom. Place on the bowling pin layer, rounded side up.

      Frost with chocolate frosting. Arrange tea-light candles on the chocolate layer to resemble holes in a bowling ball. Cut red fruit leather lengthwise into thin strips. Position three strips on neck of bowling pin to make stripes.

      Editor's Tip: Use two cake flavors to please a crowd with different tastes.

    • Doughnut Birthday Cakes

      These giant doughnuts may look like breakfast sweets, but they make fun birthday cakes for any time of day.

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. Lightly coat the outside of three 6-ounce custard cups with nonstick cooking spray. Dust cups with flour; place one upside down in the center of each pan; set aside.

      Prepare batter for a 2-layer-size cake. Spoon batter into pans around custard cups, filling pans about half full.

      Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in cakes comes out clean.

      Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around custard cup in each pan and around edges of pans. Invert cakes onto wire racks; carefully remove pans and custard cups. Invert cakes onto another wire rack so tops are up; let cool.

      Top one cake with powdered sugar, one with Chocolate Glaze, and one with Vanilla Glaze. Top glazed cakes with nuts, sprinkles, or coconut to create your favorite doughnuts.

      Chocolate Glaze: Stir together 2/3 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and enough milk (2 to 4 tablespoons) until smooth and of glazing consistency.

      Vanilla Glaze: Stir together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and enough milk (1 to 2 tablespoons) until smooth and of glazing consistency. If desired, add 1 to 2 drops desired color food coloring.

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      Ice Cream Cone Cake

      Cake and the fun of ice cream come together in this birthday treat. The cone is simple to create from a square cake, and the cupcake toppings can be customized to the birthday girl's favorite flavors.

      Cut an 8x8-inch cake into a cone shape. Starting at the top left corner and cutting to the bottom center edge, use a serrated knife to trim off a triangle; repeat starting at the top right corner and cutting to the bottom center. Place the cone shape on a large flat platter. Place the leftover two triangles side by side on another large flat platter to create a second cone shape.

      Use buttercup yellow decorating frosting to frost the two cone shapes. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup white frosting and 1 tablespoon chocolate frosting until well combined.

      Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, pipe lightened chocolate frosting on the cone cakes in a crisscross diamond pattern.

      Starting with a dozen cupcakes, frost a few with pink frosting. Top with a small amount of strawberry preserves and/or chocolate ice cream topping.

      Frost the remaining cupcakes with white or chocolate frosting. Top with nuts, sprinkles, chocolate pieces, and/or maraschino cherries.

      Arrange six cupcakes above each of the cake cones to look like stacks of ice cream scoops.

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      Pink Flower Birthday Cupcakes

      Keep it simple and feminine for your little princess. These cupcakes require only one color of frosting and one decorating tip to create pretty pink flowers. If pink isn't the birthday girl's color, simply tint white frosting to a color that suits her.

      Tint decorating frosting to desired color and transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a small open star tip.

      Dot the top of each cupcake with stars to make the allover flower pattern.

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      Soccer Star Cake

      Everyone will get a kick out of this soccer ball birthday cake nestled on a field of candy grass.

      Prepare and bake one 2-layer-size cake as directed for two 9-inch square baking pans. Prepare batter for a second 2-layer-size cake, ignoring any pan preparation directions.

      Grease and flour a 7- to 7-1/2-inch-diameter ovenproof bowl. Pour 4 cups of batter into prepared bowl. Use remaining batter for cupcakes (about 3), if desired.

      Bake cake in bowl at 350 degrees F for 60 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove cake from bowl; cool completely on wire rack.

      Tint about 3 cups white decorating frosting with black food coloring paste. Blend in powdered sugar until mixture is firm enough to roll out.

      On a surface lightly coated with powdered sugar, roll out black frosting mixture to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out five hexagons and one pentagon. Cover and set aside.

      Frost top of one square cake layer with lime-green frosting. Top with second square layer. Frost with lime-green frosting.

      Place bowl-shape cake on top of frosted cake. Frost with white frosting.

      Arrange hexagonal black cutouts around cake with pentagonal cutout on top.

      Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, pipe connecting lines with black decorating frosting.

      For grass, cut green licorice twists and sour straws on the diagonal into various lengths. Split each in half lengthwise. Attach to edge of cake using lime green frosting.

      Sprinkle green-tinted coconut around ball.

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      Eliminate the drips but keep the fun of ice cream cones with cupcakes baked in flat-bottom cones.

      Wrap the bases of 24 to 30 flat-bottom ice cream cones in foil. Place one cone in each cup of a muffin pan. If necessary, press foil into cups around the cones to secure.

      Spoon cake batter into cones, using about 3 tablespoons batter (no more than half full); let batter settle in cones. (Before filling all cones, bake one to check batter amount.)

      Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees F or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool completely.

      For Ice Cream Frosting, allow half of an 8-ounce package cream cheese and 1/3 cup butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Allow 1/4 cup vanilla ice cream to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

      In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in 5-1/2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in ice cream to reach piping consistency. Chill until ready to use.

      Use red food coloring to tint half of the Ice Cream Frosting pink. Spoon pink and white frostings side by side into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe frosting over cupcakes to look like soft-serve ice cream; decorate as desired. Chill until ready to serve.

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      Mosaic Garden Birthday Cake

      The artistry of this mosaic will impress your birthday party guests, and the simplicity of the technique means kids can create their own designs, too.

      Place clear, hard, colored candies in separate heavy-duty plastic bags, one for each color. Wrap each plastic bag in a kitchen towel. With a meat mallet or hammer, gently break the candies into coarse pieces.

      Place broken candy in a wire sieve. Working over a large bowl, shake out dust and small pieces of candy; discard.

      On a flat surface, practice arranging candy pieces into a mosaic garden design. Use the photo for inspiration.

      Place one round cake layer on a cake plate. Frost cake layer. Top with a second round cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake. Using a pastry bag fitted with a ribbon tip, pipe an edge around bottom of cake.

      While frosting is still wet, transfer the desired hard-candy garden design to the cake. In general, start in the center and work to the edge.

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      Dotty Birthday Cupcakes

      These little gems are so easy! Decorated in bright contrasting colors, they have a playful attitude reminiscent of Alice's tea party with the Mad Hatter.

      Tint decorating frosting to desired color and smoothly frost cupcakes.

      Place white frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, or place frosting in a resealable bag and snip off a small corner.

      Pipe the top of the cupcake with dots.

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      Domino Cakes

      The birthday girl will be knocked over by these super-easy, super-fun domino cakes.

      Prepare and bake cake mix or desired cake recipe according to directions for a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan. Cool completely.

      Using a serrated knife, cut cake crosswise into thirds.

      Spread chocolate frosting over the top of each cake piece.

      Transfer white frosting to a resealable plastic bag and snip off small corner.

      Decorate the top of each cake like a domino, piping lines crosswise with white frosting and making desired numbers with white candy-coated milk chocolate pieces.

      Editor's Tip: White candy-coated milk chocolate pieces can be found at specialty candy stores, or omit the white chocolate pieces and pipe white frosting dots on the cake instead.

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      Daisy-Topped Mini Cupcakes

      These bite-size birthday morsels hide a sweet surprise inside. Bake the mini cupcakes in festive nut cups suited to the birthday party color scheme.

      Before frosting, with the handle of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cupcake.

      Spoon or pipe a scant teaspoon of jam into each indentation.

      Frost cupcakes with white frosting.

      Top with sugar flowers in appropriate birthday colors.

      Editor's Tip: Find sugar flowers among baking ingredients at the grocery store or at baking supply stores.

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      Soccer Ball Birthday Cupcakes

      Goal! Every soccer star will want these sweet soccer balls for her birthday party. Luckily, they're simple to decorate.

      Place green decorating frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or multiopening (grass) tip. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes to resemble grass.

      In a small microwave-safe bowl microwave white candy coating disks on 100 percent power (high) for 1 minute. Stir; microwave for 30 to 60 seconds more or until melted, stirring once more.

      Using a fork, dip doughnut holes, one at a time, into melted candy coating, turning to coat completely. Place on waxed paper until set.

      Soften a log-shape chocolate caramel candy (such as a Tootsie Roll) in the microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 5 seconds.

      Use a rolling pin to flatten softened candy. Cut out small squares using aspic cutters; arrange squares on coated doughnut holes, using white frosting to secure. Place a decorated doughnut hole on each cupcake.

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      Flower Garden Cupcakes

      These birthday blooms may take a little practice, but the results are impressive. Whether the party is indoors or out, these flowery cupcakes make it feel like summer.

      To Make a Violet Cupcake:

      1. Place purple frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a large rose tip.

      2. Pipe five petals around the edge of a frosted cupcake, then pipe another five petals in the center of the cupcake, staggering the top petals with the bottom petals. Add a blackberry center.

      To Make a Daisy Cupcake:

      1. Place white frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small rose or basket-weave tip.

      2. Starting at the center of a frosted cupcake, use back-and-forth motions to create long petals. Add yellow candy-coated sunflower seeds to make flower center.

      To Make a Sunflower Cupcake:

      1. Place yellow frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a medium leaf tip.

      2. Pipe petals around the edge of a frosted cupcake, then pipe petals around the center of the cupcake, staggering top petals with the bottom petals. Sprinkle chopped miniature semisweet chocolate pieces and toffee pieces for center.

      To Make Cookie Leaves:

      1. Cut sugar cookie dough into leaf shapes and bake according to recipe. Tint icing green with paste food coloring. Spread over cookies and let dry.

      2. Arrange cookie leaves around cupcake flowers.

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      Sweet & Simple Glazed Cupcakes

      The beauty in these charming birthday treats is in the size and display. Start with two sizes: regular for the birthday girl and mini for her favorite doll or stuffed animal. After the cupcakes are baked and glazed, slip them into decorative paper liners with pretty designs.

      To make Lemon Glaze, finely shred 1/2 teaspoon lemon peel from 1 lemon; set aside. Juice lemon over a small bowl.

      In another small bowl, combine 1 cup powdered sugar and enough of the lemon juice (5 to 5-1/2 teaspoons) to reach thin spreading consistency. Stir in the lemon peel.

      Drizzle over mini and regular-size cupcakes and finish with a curl of lemon peel.

      Before serving, place each cupcake -- paper bake cup and all -- into a second, more colorful paper liner. Spread out the edges slightly so the cup flares around the outside of the cupcake.

      Editor's Tip: Paper cupcake liners are available in pretty colors, fun designs, and clever themes. Liners are a cheap way to dress cupcakes in party attire. Explore the options at cake decorating stores, crafts stores, kitchen stores, and online retailers.

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      Cupcake Rainbow

      This cupcake arrangement is a pot of gold. You don't even frost the cupcakes individually. Simply arrange the cupcakes and pipe frosting in colorful bands. The birthday girl gets first choice of colors!

      Divide white decorating frosting into six portions. Tint each portion a different rainbow color with food coloring. Place each color in a separate disposable pastry bag or heavy resealable plastic bag.

      On a very large serving platter arrange cupcakes tightly together in a rainbow shape; use 6 to 8 cupcakes for the inside row, 8 to 10 cupcakes for the middle row, and 12 to 14 cupcakes for the outside row.

      Snip off the tip of each pastry bag or one corner of each plastic bag. Pipe rows of colored frosting onto tops of cupcakes to make a large rainbow. If desired, use a narrow metal spatula to gently spread frosting to fill in gaps.

      Sprinkle matching sugars over colored frostings.

      Sprinkle marshmallows over frosting at each end of the rainbow to resemble clouds.

      Editor's Tip: The top red band of the rainbow will require the most frosting, and subsequent bands of frosting will require less, so divide frosting accordingly.

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      Flower Power Cake

      Gumdrop flowers weave around and over this birthday cake that's a garden of sweet delights. Alternate contrasting colors for petals and centers for striking impact.

      Place one round 8- or 9-inch cake layer on a serving plate; spread with white frosting. Top with second cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with white frosting.

      To make flowers, slice small gumdrops in half horizontally to form flower petals. Use candy-coated fruit-flavor pieces for flower centers. Flatten green gumdrops and cut into leaf shapes for leaves.

      Snip sour fruit-flavor candy straws to desired lengths for flower stems. Arrange stems as desired on side of cake.

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      Marshmallow Tower Mini Cupcakes

      This marshmallow topping resembles soft-serve ice cream. Sprinkled with colored sugar, the towering peaks add festive drama to tiny birthday desserts.

      For marshmallow topping, in a large mixer bowl, sprinkle one packet unflavored gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.

      In a small, heavy saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves; remove spoon. Brush insides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals and place a candy thermometer into mixture. Boil (do not stir) until syrup registers 235 degrees F (soft-ball stage), about 10 minutes. Pour into gelatin.

      With the whisk attachment, beat mixture on high until soft peaks form, about 7 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and use immediately.

      Fill a large pastry bag fitted with an open star tip with marshmallow topping. Pipe onto mini cupcakes, pulling pastry bag straight up to create tall towers.

      Immediately sprinkle with colored sugar.

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      Beribboned Strawberry Cupcakes

      Tiny satin bows encircle strawberry-topped birthday cupcakes that any little girl will love. It's so simple and adds a cute, sophisticated finish. Choose a single ribbon color, such as pink, to match the cupcakes, or use various ribbon colors for a complementary color scheme.

      Pipe or spread pink frosting over cupcakes. Top with a fresh strawberry.

      Tie pink or the desired color of thin satin ribbon in a bow around the outside of the paper liner.

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      Flower Patch Cupcakes

      Marshmallow slices and gumdrops grow into these beautiful birthday bouquets.

      Frost cupcakes with white frosting. Or for a "grassy" background, frost the cupcakes with green frosting.

      Slice large marshmallows crosswise into four slices.

      Arrange marshmallow slices on frosted cupcakes to resemble flower petals. Squeeze the slices slightly to create an oval petal.

      Add a gumdrop in the middle to form the flower center.

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      Swirls and Sprinkles Cupcakes

      It's a party! Decorate cupcakes with ribbons of frosting, confetti sprinkles, and a candy treat topper. Add sprinkles to the cupcake batter for even more party fun.

      Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ruffle tip with pink decorating frosting.

      Pipe ribbons of frosting over top of cupcake, covering completely.

      Add multicolor sprinkles, and top with a brightly colored gum ball, sourball, or round candy-coated milk chocolate piece.

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      Flower Swirl Cupcakes

      Dress cupcakes for the birthday party. Swirls of creamy frosting, sugar flowers, and pretty paper liners outfit plain cupcakes in festive attire. The color scheme is easy to match to the birthday girl's favorite colors.

      Pipe or swirl white frosting onto cupcakes, creating soft mounds.

      Scatter sugar flowers in appropriate birthday colors on top of frosting.

      Serve the cupcakes nestled in a second decorative paper liner.

      Editor's Tip: Find sugar flowers among baking ingredients at the grocery store or at baking supply stores.

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      Pretty-in-Pink Cake

      Pink candy wafers add a flash of feminine color to a simple white-frosted birthday cake. If the birthday girl isn't pink-obsessed, choose a candy color that matches her sweetest desires.

      Frost one round cake layer with white frosting. Top with a second round cake layer, and frost entire cake.

      Transfer white frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe decorative details along bottom of cake and around top, if desired.

      Press the edges of pink candy wafers gently into the frosting to make a random pattern, or lay them out in a decorative grid.

      Editor's Tip: This simple decorating idea also works well on a basic cheesecake or even an ice cream cake.

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      Next Slideshow Our Best Birthday Cake Recipes

      Our Best Birthday Cake Recipes

      Celebrate the special days in your loved ones' lives with an elegant and delicious birthday cake! From red velvet to citrus-flavor cakes, we have a birthday cake recipe to suit even the pickiest guest of honor!
      Begin Slideshow »



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