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1. Divide white frosting into three portions. Use food colorings to tint one portion gray and one portion yellow; leave the remaining frosting white. Place some of the chocolate frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip or in a heavy resealable plastic bag. Place some of the white frosting in a separate pastry bag fitted with a round tip or in a plastic bag. Snip off a small corner from each plastic bag.
2. For monkey cupcakes, frost the tops of three of the cupcakes with chocolate frosting. For ears, microwave a chewy fruit-flavor square candy on 100 percent power (high) for 7 seconds; flatten candy. Cut out small candy rounds and attach to miniature peanut butter cookies with frosting. Press ears into frosting on opposite sides of each cupcake top. Place a cookie in center of each cupcake for mouth and nose. For eyes, place two candy-coated milk chocolate pieces on cupcake top; pipe a white frosting dot on each and top with miniature semisweet chocolate pieces. Pipe chocolate frosting for mouth and nose.
3. For elephant cupcakes, frost the tops of three cupcakes with gray frosting. Pipe white frosting for eyes and top with a dot of black icing. In a microwave-safe bowl microwave some of the gray frosting on 100 percent power (high) for 10 seconds or until melted. Trim gummy worms to appropriate size for trunks (if they are too long, they may be heavy and fall off). Dip gummy worms in melted gray frosting, letting excess drip off. Place on waxed paper. For ears, dip pretzels in melted gray frosting, letting excess drip off; place on waxed paper. If desired, for pink on elephant ears, microwave and flatten chewy fruit-flavor square candy as in Step 2. Using a pretzel as a guide, cut outlines from candy. Press candy outlines into frosting on back side of each pretzel. Place on waxed paper. Chill gummy worms and pretzels for about 5 minutes or until set. Arrange trunks on cupcakes. Stick white candy-coated licorice into frosting for tusks. Press ears into frosting on sides of each cupcake top.
4. For lion cupcakes, frost the tops of three cupcakes with yellow frosting. Tint half of the remaining yellow frosting orange. Place orange frosting and yellow frosting in separate heavy resealable plastic bags; snip off a very small piece from one corner of each bag. Pipe frostings around edge of each cupcake for mane. Add oat cereal for ears. Pipe white frosting for eyes; add miniature semisweet chocolate pieces. Place a rich round cracker in center of each cupcake; attach a candy-coated chocolate piece for nose. Pipe chocolate frosting for mouth.
5. For panda cupcakes, frost the tops of three cupcakes with white frosting. Split miniature chocolate sandwich cookies in half; press cookie halves into frosting for ears. Arrange jelly bean and sunflower kernels on cupcakes for nose and eyes. Pipe chocolate or black icing for mouth. Makes 12 (2-1/2-inch) cupcakes.
1. In a very large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in cocoa powder. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in 1/2 cup milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in an additional 6 cups powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to reach spreading consistency. Makes enough to frost tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers.
1. In a large mixing bowl beat shortening, vanilla, and almond extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. Gradually add milk until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Makes about 3 cups.