It is fairly simple to do and only requires a few items to get started. You can customize a lot about it as well. I had a lot of these items on hand already. I only spent money on the spackling and expandable foam. That was around $11 total.
I went searching for a tutorial when I first knew I wanted to make a fake cupcake. There are some great tutorials out there but I felt there weren't enough photos with them. There were only a few before and after shots. I wanted to show people each step of the process, so they knew if they were doing it right or not. Plus, I read a lot of comments on each post and found that people were having problems. I decided to experiment and I found the perfect way to make them.
Let's get started!
You will need:
- A cupcake pan (preferably one that you won't use to make real cupcakes again!)
- Cupcake liners (you can choose whichever ones you would like)
- Round cardboard circles that fit inside of the cupcake liners (measure the bottom of your liners and then cut out cardboard circles)
- Styrofoam Cups (1 or 2, depending on how many icing colors you will want to mix)
- Plastic bags (big enough to fit a good amount of "icing" in)
- Paint colors (1 to paint the cupcake and 1 or 2 for icing)
- A paintbrush
- Stir sticks (craft sticks, an old spoon you won't use anymore, something to stir with!)
- Icing tips (look online to see which way you want your icing to look, then get a tip that will make that icing pattern)
- Lightweight spackling (I used Premium Grade Patch n Paint)
- Expandable foam (I used Great Stuff Window and Door Insulating Foam Sealant)
Place the cupcake liners in the cupcake pan.
Place a cardboard circle in the bottom of each cupcake liner. The cardboard is to ensure your cupcake has a flat surface to sit on and it doesn't topple over. The foam may expand to create lumps on the bottom if you skip this step! Make sure to put the circles in the bottom.
The can of expandable foam should have a plastic attachment hose/nozzle. Attach this and get ready to spray the foam in the cupcake liners. It comes out really fast, so don't be alarmed. It will fill up the cupcake liner quite fast as well. Don't put too much in. Once you see it is half way full, let go of the sprayer. It should expand from there to be a pretty normal size cupcake. You may have to experiment with this. I had to spray one to get the hang of it, then I was able to spray the other cupcakes with ease.
Above is how it should look after you just spray the foam in the cupcake liners. It will start expanding fairly quickly after this, so leave it alone for a while.
Let the expandable foam dry overnight. This gives it time to expand as much as it needs to and dry. It may feel ready to go after a few hours but it is wise to wait overnight. If you paint it or add "icing" too soon, the foam beneath may collapse. The photos above are after the cupcakes have set overnight.
After your cupcake forms have dried overnight, it is time to paint them. Use a white, cream, brown, or black to paint the foam base. The idea is to make it look like a cupcake, but you can use crazy colors if this is just for fun. Since the "icing" will be on top, it is only really important to paint the outside of the shape. You can paint the whole thing if you want to. Let this paint dry for a few hours.
The next step is to make the "icing". Put some of the lightweight spackling in a mixing cup. I used a styrofoam cup so it was easy clean up. It is very important that you use lightweight spackling for this. It dries quicker and it will not make the foam beneath it collapse. After you have your spackling in a cup, add whatever color you wish your icing to be, then mix thoroughly.
Take a plastic bag and put the icing tip in the corner of it. You should then cut a small part of the corner off so the icing tip can fit down but not all the way out of the bag.It should be a snug fit. If you have a pastry bag this may be easier.
After you have your icing tip in place, you can then fill the bag with your spackling mixture. This is easiest if you fold the edges of the bag back and shovel the mixture in. That way it doesn't get all over the top of your bag. After the mixture is in the bag, you are ready to ice your cupcakes! You can do this however you know how. You may want to watch a video online if you aren't familiar with it.
Decorations! I chose to add some blue glitter on top of my cupcakes. However, you can really decorate them with anything. While the "icing" is still wet, the glitter stuck to it just fine. If you want to add beads or other heavier objects, I would wait until the "icing" is dry and then glue the items in place. Since these cupcakes are not perishable, I would not really use real food or sprinkles as decoration. You don't want bugs to get those.
That's it! You now have beautiful cupcakes.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask! I would love to help other people make these. It didn't take very long to make them, and I will have them for a very long time. I made these in May and I am still using them in my Etsy photos. They hold up very well to being moved around. It's very easy to place cupcake toppers in them as well.
8/19/14 Update: I was able to remove the icing from this tutorial to make better looking icing for product photos. It was really easy to do! If you are unhappy with how your icing turns out the first time you make a cupcake just wait for it to dry completely. Wait a few days even. Then peel it off of the cupcake base. I should have used a larger icing tip. Here are some photos of newer icing made using a larger tip.