One day a few weeks back I had a meeting with a little boy, W, the son of a friend from work,  in my office at work about what kind of cupcakes he wanted me to make for his birthday.  When you’re 5 going on 6, birthday cupcakes are a serious matter that warrant meetings.  And he took this meeting seriously.

Ok, so I didn’t call Sarah, W’s mom, and ask to schedule a meeting with me.  She happened to drop by with her boys one day and we huddled in my office around my computer while W discussed the possibilities of his cupcakes.  Madagascar.  Chocolate cake.  Colored frosting that…”ooo! Make it the color of the sky in that picture!” And then the sweet sweet child asked for characters. My stomach sunk. I suggested characters on sugar cookies and he was thrilled…and then proceeded to pick out 15 different characters he wanted on his cookies.

I’m no artist so I freaked myself out with this [overconfident?] suggestion.  But it just so happens that I stumbled across these cookies on twitter later that day, almost as if by divine intervention. So in the next few weeks, I talked to the bakery department in my local grocery store about the idea of printing out a sheet of edible ink icing to take home with me instead of putting on a cake and they were fine with the idea. Could it really be that easy?

I sized all of the Madagascar images onto one page (I squeezed in 24 – MS Powerpoint is really easy to work in for something like this), printed it out on photo paper, and brought it to the bakery.  Then I followed Bridget’s instructions on Bake at 350 and finished the cookies.  I should note here that Bridget says to place the image on the wet royal icing but I missed that step and let the icing dry completely.  So with a paint brush I have dedicated for royal icing, I painted on some of the meringue-water mixture to use as glue for the image and it worked perfectly. I pulled the whole look together with sky blue (of course) frosting on 1/2 of the cupcakes and orange on the other 1/2 to complement the nonpareils I chose for the cookies the smooshed (technical term) the cookies on top of the frosting, just as W had asked for.

Both the cookies and the cupcakes were a big hit at W’s party and most importantly, W and his family really loved them.  Below are a few shots Sarah’s neighbor took at the party and just to note, I do have permission from all parents involved to post these photos of their kids here.

The birthday boy, W on left with two friends.


W's little brother, A, taking good care of his cookie.

Diving in!

And totally loving it!

Cupcake Recipe: Martha Stewart’s Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Frosting Recipe: adapted from Wilton (non-dairy requested by parents – replaced butter with shortening and milk with water) – double this recipe for 24 cupcakes
Yellow Cupcake Liners: Bake It Pretty
Cupcake Tower: homemade, tutorial @ Annie’s Eats; Ribbon from Michael’s
Sugar Cookie Recipe: Martha Stewart’s Sugar Cookie Cutouts
Royal Icing Recipe: adapted from Good Things Catered
Blue and Orange Nonpareils: Bake It Pretty

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Leave a Comment

  • September 22, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    Tara, those are gorgeous and adorable and delectable looking! Will you make my birthday cupcakes? February, and I *love* Tinker Bell! 😉

  • September 22, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Those are adorable! I showed my 3 year old and he wants me to make some for him!

  • September 22, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Happy birthday!! These are so adorable!

  • Sarah
    September 22, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    As the mom of the birthday boy, I can confirm that everyone LOVED these cupcakes/cookies. My husband kept interrupting me all evening to tell me that they were “probably the best cupcakes I’ve ever had in my life.” Thanks, Tara!

    • smellslikehome
      September 22, 2010 at 10:28 AM

      You’re welcome, Sarah! I’m so glad they went over well!

  • September 22, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    So cute! Kids always have very clear ideas about what they want but you were great in making the boy happy!

  • September 22, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    I adore the penguins from the madagascar movies- and they look fab on the cookies! Bet it must have been a mega hit with the kids 🙂

  • September 22, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    These are adorable! Love the colors…thanks for sharing!

  • September 22, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    So cute! I melted in my chair!!!

  • September 22, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    These are so cute, how fun!

  • September 23, 2010 at 5:42 AM

    How CUTE!! Too cute to eat imo!

  • Stephen
    September 23, 2010 at 7:40 PM


    As the father of “W” I want to thank you for all the effort and creativity that you put into those beautiful and scrumptious cupcakes. It made for the perfect day which made a 6 year old have a “dessert memory” for life. It doesn’t get any better than that!!!

    Can I book a meeting with you for my birthday dessert? FYI – my theme would be wine:)

    All the best,

  • September 25, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    Those are so cute and not to mention delicious looking! What a fantastic idea for a birthday party, you did a great job with the cookie topped cupcakes! 🙂

  • September 25, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    These are so very cute, you are inspiring me for my little one’s birthday 🙂
    Great job !