I’m a big fan of cactus anything, and the cactus cupcake design was one of my earliest cupcake projects (wholly inspired by Alana Jones-Mann). I’ve gotten to make them a handful of times for birthday parties and bridal showers, but it wasn’t until I saw the beautiful Cactus Flower sprinkle mix that I tried incorporating sprinkles into the design. I absolutely love how these pretty sprinkles add a celebratory element to these cactus shapes!
The Cactus Flower sprinkle mix is a beautiful blend of jimmies and spherical shapes made of teals, mints, greens, and purples. It’s all the colors you would see in a lush succulent garden and totally perfect for Summertime desserts. Just look at how amazing these colors are together:
When I first started out with cactus cupcakes, I was using fondant as a base for the cacti before piping buttercream on top. Then I realized, who wants to bite into a huge chunk of fondant? Not me! In order to make the cactus shapes tasty as can be, I started making the bases out of cake mixed with buttercream. It’s an easy medium for molding the cactus shapes, plus it tastes amazing. A total win win! And the sprinkled base of the cupcakes really adds a fun element with all that texture and color going on. I’m in love!
I’ll show you everything you need to know about making sprinkle cactus cupcakes in the tutorial below, but before you get started, be sure to watch this quick video to see the techniques in action:
Before you get started, it’s best to get all your materials prepped and ready to go. Divide your buttercream into three different bowls: add about ¼ cup of the buttercream to a small bowl and keep it uncolored and add another ¼ cup of buttercream into another small bowl and color it with purple buttercream. Divide the rest of the buttercream into two separate bowls and color one a darker shade of green and one a lighter shade of green. I used different amounts of Americolor Forest Green for these two shades.
Next, pour the Cactus Flower sprinkles into a small bowl, then chop up six of the baked cupcakes into smaller bits and add them to a medium sized bowl.
Add about ¼ cup of either of the green buttercreams to the bowl of chopped up cupcake bits. Then, use a rubber spatula or spoon to mix it all together until it’s uniform in consistency.
When you’re finished mixing, the result should be moldable when you try to shape it with your hands. If it’s not sticking together enough, just add a little bit more buttercream until it’s easy to mold with your hands.
There are two different styles I love when it comes to cactus cupcakes. The first is a traditional elongated shape and the other is more spherical. Before you start shaping, fit a piece of wax paper onto a baking sheet. Then, roll a little bit of the cake/buttercream mixture into 1 inch spheres using your hands and place them one by one onto the baking sheet. You’ll want to make 6 of these.
To make the elongated shape, roll the cake/buttercream mixture between your hands to make more of a rod shape. They should each be about 1.5-2 inches tall and about an inch wide. Place them one by one onto the baking sheet until you have 6 of them.
When you’re finished making your cactus shapes, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to let them firm up for about 20 minutes. They’ll be much easier to work with that way!
Using the bottom of one of your piping tips, create a small cutout in the center of each cupcake to give the cactus shapes a nice foundation to sit on later.
Use a small icing spatula to frost the surface of the cupcake, excluding the small hole you created.
Then, dip the surface of the cupcakes into the Cactus Flower sprinkles. Repeat until you have all of the cupcake surfaces covered in sprinkles.
For the spherical cacti, add the refrigerated cake/buttercream balls to 6 of the cupcakes.
Prepare a piping bag by fitting it with Wilton Tip 4B and filling it with the lighter green buttercream. Cover the surface of each spherical cactus in open stars.
Next, prepare a piping bag fitted with Wilton Tip 109 (or any drop flower tip) and fill it with purple buttercream. Pipe a drop flower onto the top of each one.
Continue decorating with spherical sprinkles from the Cactus Flower mix wherever you’d like.
For the elongated cacti, add the refrigerated cake/buttercream rods to 6 of the cupcakes. Prepare a piping bag by fitting it with Wilton Tip 352 and filling it with the darker green buttercream. Then, pipe a series of vertical lines around the surface of the rods.
Use the purple buttercream bag to pipe a drop flower on top of each of the cacti. Then, prepare a piping bag fitted with Wilton tip 3 and fill it with the remaining white (uncolored) buttercream. Pipe a series of dots onto every other line on the cactus. These are meant to look like the spines of a cactus.
Use your lighter green buttercream to pipe a couple open stars next to the elongated cacti, then continue decorating with spherical sprinkled from the Cactus Flower mix wherever you’d like.
Aren’t these sprinkly cactus cupcakes the cutest thing? Perfect for any Summer soirèe!
The best part is, this cactus technique will work for decorating cakes as well as cupcakes. I’d love to see these beauties with the Cactus Flower sprinkle mix on a cake! Maybe that’ll be my next cactus-inspired project.
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