DIY: Snow Globe Cupcakes
A couple of years ago I was trying to figure out how to make a snow globe cake and after failing a few times, I ended up just adding a plastic one to top the cake. It still looked cool, but I was pretty bummed I couldn’t figure out the edible version. I was focusing on sugar and had assumed I’d just need to become a glass blower or something to be able to achieve a perfect dome. I realized my problem was the material – to get a see-through sugar dome is nearly impossible. But, gelatin – well that’s a whole different story. After doing a little research, I gave it a go with the gelatin and voila – it worked! I also used modeling chocolate instead of fondant for my figurines, so that I would actually be interested in eating them. Looking at them, it may be hard to believe, but these snow globe cupcakes are 100% edible…and every piece of them tastes great too!
As you can see I went for a retro tropical feel for my holiday snow globe cupcakes just to be extra ironic, however, the theme you choose is totally up to you. Whether you plan on dreaming up your own theme (go for it!) or just plan on going along with my vibe, the directions are the same. Continue on below for the tutorial.
- Snow Globe Materials:
- Knox unflavored gelatin packets
- Microwave-safe bowl
- Whisk, Spoon
- Small (5-inch) balloons or water balloons
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp light corn syrup
- Snowflake sprinkles
- 1 batch vanilla cupcakes
- 1 batch vanilla buttercream
- White sanding sugar
- White modeling chocolate (or fondant)
- Gel food color (assortment)
- Plastic bags
- Edible markers
- Optional: Edible disco dust, pearl dust
Day Before – The Gelatin Snow Globes: Before you bake your cupcakes you’re going to want to make your gelatin snow globes, as these will need to dry overnight. Follow along below with the directions.
Blow up each balloon to the best size for your cupcake top. Double knot the balloons when tying to prevent any air from leaking. To cover 6 balloons, add 6 tablespoons cold water and 3 packets of Knox unflavored gelatin to a microwave-safe bowl (ratio is 2 parts water : 1 part powdered gelatin). Use a small whisk or a fork to mix in the gelatin with the water. Once mixed, set aside for 5 minutes. In this time, the gelatin will become a semi-firm sponge texture.
Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 20-30 seconds, keeping a close eye on the gelatin to make sure it doesn’t begin to boil. Remove from the microwave and let sit for a couple of minutes to cool. Once cooled, use a spoon to skim the surface to remove the bubbles, as well as what I like to call the “muck” that can form on top during the heating process.
Using a paper towel, lightly (very lightly) coat each balloon in vegetable oil or shortening. FYI – I found that vegetable oil resulted in a more clear globe once they were dry. Dip each balloon into the bowl of gelatin, working quickly to ensure the gelatin stays warm. Let excess gelatin drip off. To dry, I found it easiest to poke a toothpick through the end of my balloon and then position the toothpick into Styrofoam. You could also set the balloons on a wire rack. Whatever you do, just make sure to cover the surface below your drying area, as things will get a little messy during this part.
Set the balloons aside to dry. You can place them in front of a fan to speed up the process, or just wait for them to dry overnight. When they’re completely hard, that means they’re dry. Once dry, remove the balloon by using a pair of scissors to cut the knot. For an added touch, use a tiny dab of light corn syrup to secure snowflake sprinkles to the interior of your snow globe.
The Cupcakes and Toppers:
Step #1: Before you frost your cupcakes pour white sanding sugar onto a plate and set aside. Lightly frost each cupcake with vanilla buttercream and gently roll the top of the cupcake into the sanding sugar to cover the frosting. Set in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to allow the sanding sugar to set into the frosting.
Step #2: Break your modeling chocolate or fondant into 10 to 20 balls. Using just 1 small drop of gel coloring, dye each ball a separate color. Knead the color into each ball and work the modeling chocolate until the color is completely blended. Store each of your colors in a separate plastic bag.
Step #3: Prepare your work surface with either wax paper or a silicone mat. Get a knife, some toothpicks, and any other decorating tools you wish to use, and then start molding your figurines. It’s important to make sure that the size of your figurines can fit inside the snow globes, so make sure to keep them to size! If you’re using modeling chocolate you’ll notice how it doesn’t dry quickly, which is amazing…but you will need to allow at least a few hours of dry time for any large figurines. Use edible markers to add any small details to your figurines. Lighlty dust on Pearl dust or disco dust with a paintbrush to add a little sparkle. I’ve provided some closeups of the cupcakes below to help you out. All of the details were added with toothpicks (the trees, leaves, wreaths). Toothpicks are your best friend when working with details this small!
Tip: If your modeling chocolate or fondant is getting sticky, work in some confectioner’s sugar.
Step #4: Apply a small dab of buttercream to the bottom of each figurine before adding it to the cupcake to allow it to sit firmly on the cupcake. I also like to remove a touch of the sanding sugar that’s going to be under the figurine for a more stable base.
Step #5: Once you’ve added your toppers, go ahead and add the snow globes. And there you have it – snow globe cupcakes! You can use scissors to cut a larger opening at the bottom of your globe if needed. Pretty cool, eh?!
I made my first flamingo a bit too big, so I ended up turning him into a flamingo pool floatie. Clearly, I spent a little too much time with these guys…I even ended up posing a snowman atop the pool float for a pic. Perhaps, I just need more sleep.
One last thing to note – if want to make a larger version of these cupcakes for a cake topper, just use a larger balloon for the gelatin mold.