Cactus Cupcakes - The Sweet Rebellion
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Cactus Cupcakes

Hola amiga’s! I’ve been really excited to share these not-so-cuddly cupcakes with you. Succulents and cacti are SO on-trend right now! Especially if you live in Cape Town and can grow nothing else in your garden, thanks to the drought.

Perhaps you’re wondering what type of occasion would call for making these prickly cactus cupcakes. In my case it was for a Mexican-themed 1-year old’s party (alongside a Piñata cake, of course). Your reason may be margarita night, a garden-club tea, or even to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Whatever the occasion, these barbed beauties are sure to bring a smile to your face.

Now these cactus cupcakes may look intimidating to make, but when you break it down they are nothing more than vanilla cupcakes and a little buttercream piping work. There are heaps of fun ways to pipe your cactus shapes. In fact once you start decorating them, I think you’ll find it’s hard to stop!


Vanilla Cupcakes:
165g butter, softened
350g sugar
15ml vanilla extract
2 large eggs
320g flour
2,5ml salt
12,5ml baking powder
300ml milk

Vanilla Buttercream:
250g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
10ml vanilla extract
30ml milk
green food colouring (preferably gel colouring, I used a mix of olive green and forest green)

To decorate:
About 8 shortbread (or similar) biscuits
1 tub of green fondant
red and yellow sugar flowers
white sprinkles


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake cases.
  • To make the cupcakes, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and beat very well.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition.
  • Once all the ingredients have been incorporated and the batter is smooth, divide the mixture between the 24 cupcake cases. They should be about 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  • To make the buttercream, beat together the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside about a third of the icing.
  • To the remaining icing, add enough green food colouring until you have a cactus-coloured buttercream!
  • Crush the shortbread biscuits into fine crumbs to make your sand and place in a small bowl.
  • Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread about a tablespoon of plain-coloured icing onto each cupcake then dip into the crushed shortbread crumbs.
  • Now roll your green fondant into dome shapes of various sizes. This is the base onto which you will pipe the green icing. To stick the fondant down onto the “sand”, you will need to scrape off some of the crumbs in the centre and use some extra buttercream to hold it in place.
  • Once your fondant is steady on the cupcake, use a piping bag with various nozzles to pipe the rest of the cactus with green buttercream. To make the spiky looking cacti below, it is important to use cold icing. Do quick squeezes of icing and pull the tip away quickly. For the egg-shaped cacti simply from the bottom of the cactus to the top and repeat until all the fondant is covered. A leaf nozzle can also be used to create a leafy-looking succulent.
  • Use your white sprinkles to create thorns and sugar flowers to decorate the cacti.
  • Leave to set for an hour then store in an airtight container.


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