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Butterfly Cupcakes and New Beginnings 
Jun. 7, 2010 8:02 pm 
Updated: May 24, 2011 5:56 pm
I am NOT the first person to blog about these cupcakes. But since I took pictures of the entire process, I'm doing it anyway. I first saw these in the book Hello, Cupcake.

I made these cupcakes as a last day/birthday treat  for my second graders. I had a terrific bunch of kids this year. I say this because these cupcakes are a LOT of work, especially when made in large quantities. These kids are worth the work.

Each year, in the spring, we study the life cycle of the Painted Lady butterfly. We start with tiny caterpillars and release pretty orange butterflies into the sunny Pennsylvania skies a month later, usually just before the end of the school year. I thought these cupcakes would be the perfect way to end the school year.
Painted Lady Butterfly

During the last few weeks of school students with summer birthdays are assigned a day to celebrate their special day with the class. I always reserve the last day of school for my summer birthday and bake a treat. I almost didn't have the chance to do it this year - between my husband's recent accident (he's still recovering) and my oldest son's baseball schedule, it didn't look promising. Thanks to our recent very ugly weather, my son's two weekend make-up games were cancelled. I bit the bullet and started making butterflies.

I started with a template of the wings drawn on plain paper.

Over this, I laid waxed paper and piped the design in melted chocolate. I used a squeeze bottle which I kept in a cup of hot water. I kept microwaving the water to keep the chocolate melted.

Next, I piped melted colored wafers between the chocolate. I melted these in a freezer bag (open) and cut the corner for piping.

Working quickly, I used a toothpick to spread and swirl the chocolate and wafers, then sprinkled on some white nonpareils.

While the wings dried (32 pairs of them), I piped about 40 pairs of antennae onto waxed paper and set them aside.

Next, I folded pieces of cardstock paper and propped them up between upside down bowls. Then I folded pieces of waxed paper and set them in the cardstock. Into the "V" I piped a body of chocolate. I did eight of these at a time.

I placed one wing into the chocolate and let it rest against the waxed paper, then repeated with the other wing.

These had to harden for a while. Fortunately, the weather was unseasonably cool and the breeze from the open windows helped out.

Here are shots of the wings drying flat, then again, propped between the bowls. You can see the antennae on the finished product. I found it worked best to wait a few minutes before putting the antennae into the chocolate. AND, it was a good thing I made extras, as some broke when handled.

Next, we need cupcakes. I baked chocolate and yellow from (gasp) boxed mixes. I did make homemade frosting using Decorator Frosting I from Allrecipes. I tinted this green and used a large piping bag and 1A tip to pipe big swirls of frosting on each cupcake.
Each cupcake was topped with a butterfly. As you can see, some of my bodies turned a lighter color. This is because I remelted chocolate. This is a no-no. Now I know better. The kids didn't care. :)
Here they are all loaded up to go. I wish I could say they all made it in one piece, but  few lost antennae along the way. They still tasted good, though.
Because some of them may be reading this blog, a special HELLO to all my special kids! We had a great year together! Just as we set our butterflies free to begin a new life, I say goodbye to each of these precious kids and wish for them a wonderful new beginning as THIRD graders!
Thanks for dropping by!
P.S. - Dear Food Police: I've gotten the message in the comments below. I promise never to melt chocolate in plastic again. Okay? Good.
Butterfly Cupcakes from "Hello, Cupcake"
Photo Detail
Second Grade Butterfly Release
Photo Detail
Just Hangin' Around -sometimes they don't fly right away
Photo Detail
Jun. 7, 2010 8:05 pm
Wow! I don't care if it was your idea or not, these are incredible! Props to you for spending so much time making beautiful cupcakes!
Jun. 7, 2010 8:08 pm
Holy Cow! That's beyond cool, Pam! Awesome!!
Jun. 7, 2010 8:24 pm
Wow, what an amazing teacher you are to put so much effort into something specail for your 'kids'. Not a lot of teachers would, or could, do that (how DO you do it, lol?) Your heart for them really shows. I have that cupcake book, and after my experience constructing the shark cupcakes, I haven't cracked it open again ;D (I'm not a girl for cursing, but there was a lot of it to be heard in my kitchen that particular morning.)
Jun. 7, 2010 8:26 pm
whoa!!!!!!!! those are AMAZING!!! I totally remember growing butterflies, though I think I did them in first, not second, grade. Great job!!!!!!!!
Jun. 7, 2010 8:30 pm
WOW! Those are amazing! You have inspired me to atleast give this a try. You are an amazing teacher and those kids will remember this forever:)
Jun. 7, 2010 8:43 pm
I looked at just about every recipe in this book today at the bookstore and saw these! Very cool execution... I ended up buying Martha Stewart's Cupcakes instead. I don't know why I'm suddenly obsessed with cupcakes, but I am. Our school's "theme" for next year is Catch the Wave and I'm already planning to do cupcakes with "waves" and sweet goldfish "swimming" in them. I'm also thinking about doing fondant "shark fins" in some of them. I also really, really, really want to make some owl cupcakes...I've seen a couple of ideas now that are adorable. I don't have a reason to make those though. I just want them.
Jun. 7, 2010 9:09 pm
They look amazing! You did such an awesome job on them! After the time and effort you put into the butterflies and frosting, I don't think anybody is going to fault you for a boxed mix. I know I definitely won't! :)
Jun. 7, 2010 10:06 pm
Wow! Those look amazing! You did an awesome job :) I don't have the patience to do that. I would have got frustrated at 2.
Amy K. 
Jun. 8, 2010 3:54 am
Thank you for your photo tutorial - these are absolutely gorgeous!
Jun. 8, 2010 7:53 am
How special and what beautiful cupcakes!
Jun. 8, 2010 7:59 am
Pam, WOW fantastic job. Do you think I could make the butterflies ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator if I wanted to take my time making them and then attach to my cupcakes right before the party?
Jun. 8, 2010 8:48 am
Luvs2Bake - I'm sure you could make the butterflies ahead of time. I had intended to make them the day before, but had changed my mind and wasn't going to make them. I don't think you'd need to refrigerate them as long as they're kept in a cool place out of sunlight.
Jun. 8, 2010 8:50 am
Incredible! I envy those like you who make such amazing creations w/melted chocolate!! Great *how to*, too! What a great culminating activity for the butterfly unit; your kiddos will remember them forever! Enjoy SUMMER VACATION!!!!
Jun. 8, 2010 8:53 am
That's awesome pam! I wish I had the patience to do all that! Thanks for sharing.
Jun. 8, 2010 8:55 am
Talk about patience! Great job Pam! ;) your kids must really love you as a teacher! Now go grab a margarita....you deserve it! ;)
Jun. 8, 2010 8:57 am
Pam, you're totally awesome! And the cupcakes too!
Jun. 8, 2010 9:01 am
I find myself coming back to this blog again and again because that's so incredibly talented!
Jun. 8, 2010 9:03 am
I have ALWAYS wanted to make these, thanks for making it seem possible! It's really helpful to see all the pictures. Great blog!
Jun. 8, 2010 9:05 am
GREAT JOB! They look so pretty Pam! You are right - these were so worth all the time and effort. Your kids must have gone crazy over them! I always enjoyed it when my kids did this in school - you really made it special for them! Just amazing..... :)
Jun. 8, 2010 9:08 am
Your students should be SO grateful to have such an amazing teacher! Your'e an inspiration to many!!
Jun. 8, 2010 9:15 am
Those cupcakes are the cutest things ever!! I was admiring your new avatar this morning, didnt even think to check your blog. Seems like a lot of work but worth it :) Thanks for sharing.
Jun. 8, 2010 9:21 am
Pam, you are awesome! I am also a teacher and know how time consuming it is when making things for the class. What a wonderful job and enjoy your summer break!
Jun. 8, 2010 12:11 pm
Pam, I'm so glad you wrote this blog. I've tied butterflies several times and I haven't been happy with the results. Seeing the process helped me see the little details I was missing. Thank you! Enjoy your summmer!
Jun. 8, 2010 12:56 pm
great blog, I love to see how artistic one can get and the play by play makes me think that even I could attempt it. They look beautiful and I'm sure your young Einsteins will enjoy them. I remember when my kids did butterflies in grade 3-I had cocoons kicking around the house after every transformation;)
Jun. 8, 2010 1:26 pm
Wow Pam...are you sure you aren't an art teacher? I love how you did those and like a few others have said, you inspire me to even give it a go and try it. I love them.
Jun. 8, 2010 3:33 pm
Thanks for the great feedback everyone! These really were fun to make and were a big hit with the kids. I'm hoping to try some of the other designs in the book, and I want to get the sequel. I think it's called "What's New, Cupcake".
Jun. 8, 2010 3:40 pm
Such talent thet are Gorgeous!! Your students are very - lucky your ability to teach in an interesting manner is wonderful. Have a great summer and rest up as much as you can between nursing duty and taxi/cheerleader duty.
Jun. 8, 2010 5:30 pm
Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us. I know you are a very busy woman. You are definitely a Godsend.
Jun. 8, 2010 7:56 pm
Your cupcakes and amazing and so his your dedication to the kids. They are so lucky to have you as a teacher. Love the pictures and your blog!
Jun. 8, 2010 8:10 pm
Oh wow! Those are absolutely amazing cupcakes! What an amazing teacher those kids have! How lucky they are! WAY TO GO!!
Jun. 9, 2010 8:09 am
Your students will be telling everyone about those cupcakes and the wonderful teacher that made them for many many years to come!!
Jun. 10, 2010 9:41 am
Your students are so lucky and you have talent to make them look so great.
Jun. 10, 2010 9:47 am
awesome blog great cupcakes, what a talented and devoted teacher you are.
Jun. 11, 2010 6:27 am
Wow those are gorgeous and a lot of love went into them. Glad they were a hit.
Jun. 11, 2010 7:40 am
They are just beautiful! Thank you for sharing :)
Jun. 11, 2010 10:50 am
I saw pictures of these on the photo voting and thought they were absolutely amazing!
Jun. 11, 2010 11:22 am
Wow... I can't think of any other word to say. I will try to make these cupcakes for my Daughter's birthday with your inspiration. What a nice teacher you are!
Jun. 11, 2010 12:11 pm
Amazing cupcakes! Your students will remember this for a long time to come! What an awesome teacher you are to share your talents with your students!
Jun. 11, 2010 1:29 pm
What an amazing teacher you are. Showing your kids how much you care with these amazing cupcakes. Makes me want to go right out and try and make them for my grands. I'll be taking care of them in a couple of weeks, so this will be a fun project for us to do together. Thanks so much for sharing how you made them and thanks for the blog.
Jun. 11, 2010 2:01 pm
OMG they are soooo beautiful awesome job im going to have to try it now!!!! amazing!!
Jun. 11, 2010 2:31 pm
Did you really "melt (the wafers) in a (open) freezer bag and cut the corner for piping."????? Food containers made of plastic leaches BPA (Bisphenol A) into the food! When the plastic + food is heated (in the microwave for instance) a lot more plastic get into the food. It causes cancer and sterility. Other than that your butterflies Cupcakes look amazing!
Jun. 11, 2010 3:38 pm
Pam, do you think maybe if I bake my cupcakes from scratch, I could find some boxed butterflies???? I remember seeing these pictured and wondered was this "real", but then I saw whose picture it was and answered my own question really quickly. B+U+T+FULL! (beautiful).
Jun. 11, 2010 3:42 pm
Great looking cupcakes, I'd eat one even if it causes cancer :o)
Jun. 11, 2010 4:25 pm
I should have added that it is better to use glass containers to heat the food. And for the "squeeze bottle" is it better to use cloth rather than plastic. I wish I wasn't the bearer of bad news but "It is better to be safe than sorry" :)
Jun. 11, 2010 6:28 pm
i love this idea alot hope you come up with one
Jun. 11, 2010 6:28 pm
i love this idea alot hope you come up with one
Jun. 12, 2010 2:43 am
You rock, Pam! These are lovely!
Jun. 12, 2010 5:06 am
Diane - I followed the directions in "Hello Cupcake" and the products I'm using are safe for people. As for using glass and cloth - not sure how that would work for piping. I've never seen a glass or cloth squeeze bottle or piping bag.
Jun. 12, 2010 5:31 am
I just finished reading the Hello Cupcake book and boy I couldn't believe the talent in that book. Your cupcakes came out awesome....so glad you shared this with us.
Jun. 12, 2010 7:38 am
Hezzy - I've never seen boxed butterflies. These ones aren't all that hard - just time consuming.
Jun. 12, 2010 9:29 am
WOW beautiful and SO creative! wish i had your talent :D Great job those look great!
Jun. 12, 2010 10:50 am
Wow! Those are so cute...lucky kids! I'd eat your boo-boos anytime! (That sounds wierd but you know what I mean!) Great job!
Jun. 12, 2010 12:51 pm
These are gorgeous! I've saved this for future reference. Beautiful photos, step by step. You're very talented not to mention very patient. I bet the kids were really excited when they got a look at these!!!
Jun. 12, 2010 2:52 pm
WOW these are beautiful! I have just recently started to do cake/cupcake/cookie decorating and I will defiantly be trying this!!! WOW! They will be hard to even try and match!!
Jun. 12, 2010 3:37 pm
Those are works of art. Good job!
Jun. 12, 2010 8:54 pm
These are adorable, far too pretty to eat!
Jun. 12, 2010 9:18 pm
Wow these are beautiful!!
Jun. 13, 2010 6:40 am
Thats wonderful that you shared these with your students! They are adorable and you seemed to make them look almost like fun to make LOL
Jun. 13, 2010 7:37 am
looks terraffic i like it and think about making them to my kids this summer. thanks a lot.
Jun. 13, 2010 8:06 am
Holy cow....those have to be the most amazing cupcakes. What lucky students you have, to have a wonderful teacher like you!
Jun. 13, 2010 8:46 am
Those look amazing! Thanks for the tutorial because believe it or not it helps a lot!
Jun. 13, 2010 9:15 am
These are beautiful. I hope the kids appreciate all of your hard work- they're lucky to have a teacher who cares about them so much. :)
Jun. 13, 2010 11:52 am
very pretty!!
Jun. 13, 2010 12:21 pm
Pam, thank you So Much for your blog and sharing your experience! :) It was a great Show & Tell, Teach! ;) Just amazing, the entire story! :) I definitely agree with Diane! :( Even though recipes & people may say you can use plastic in the microwave, I don't think it's a good idea! :( I have used plastic bags as cheaper pipping bags too but I heat the chocolate in a glass bowl and then transfer it into a plastic bag, waxed paper or parchment paper, rolled into a cone shape. Then cut what ever sized hole you need, at the tip or corner of the bag. You can do small batches, so as not to have to keep reheating the chocolate that may result with chocolate "bloom." That's probably why the butterflies changed color. :(
Jun. 13, 2010 12:23 pm
Pam, P.S. I do think there are cloth pastry bags. :)
Jun. 13, 2010 12:28 pm
Luvs2Bake - Chocolate should NOT be refrigerated. It should be tempered though! There are two kinds of Bloom. And your chocolate can get that problem with varying temperatures and moisture. The frig does both of those things! :( F.Y.I. FAT BLOOM: The cocoa butter has separated out from the chocolate due to poor tempering or incorrect temperature. It creates a hazy surface appearance, but is fine to eat. SUGAR BLOOM: When condensation forms on the surface of chocolate, it combines with sugars present to create a syrup. Large sugar crystals remain on the surface of the chocolate when the moisture then evaporates.
Jun. 13, 2010 2:34 pm
Your class is lucky to have you. What beautiful butterfly cupcakes. Great job.
Jun. 13, 2010 4:51 pm
LaughingAngel - thanks for the info about chocolate "blooming". I haven't done much with it and realized my mistake too late. I've never seen the cloth pastry bags despite purchasing a LOT of the plastic ones (both reusable and disposable.) I'll have to look harder. :)
Jun. 13, 2010 4:55 pm
I found them on Amazon. Here's a link for anyone interested: http://www.amazon.com/Heavy-Cloth-Pastry-Bags-10-12-14/dp/B002USG7G6
Jun. 14, 2010 3:37 am
Wow! Absolutely incredible-I'm totally impressed!!
Jun. 14, 2010 9:14 am
Great job!! I plan on making these soon!
Jun. 14, 2010 11:12 am
those are beuatiful! i'd love to make them for my daughter's birthday. can you give me a bit more detail about the "colored waifers"...where to find them, etc. or just where to get/how to make colored chocolate. amazing job!
Jun. 14, 2010 12:44 pm
To those who are concerned about my using plastic to melt the wafers: I read the labels and the products I'm using do NOT contain BPA. Thanks for your concern. I don't think I poinsoned anyone. :)
Jun. 14, 2010 12:45 pm
jkcooks - you can buy the colored wafers at any craft store or candy supply store. I buy them at Michael's, but have seen them at Wal Mart or even my local grocery store. :) Good luck!
Jun. 14, 2010 1:13 pm
thnak you!
Jun. 14, 2010 1:15 pm
Beautiful! Thank you for posting step by step!
Jun. 14, 2010 3:42 pm
I'd feel safe using plastic. I've seen a lot of BPA-free plastics lately, and I'm sure you can get squeeze bottles that will proudly say they are!
Jun. 14, 2010 3:55 pm
My squeeze bottles are actually called "Melt 'n Mold"- they're sold at Michael's and are wonderful.
Jun. 14, 2010 6:41 pm
That's really cool! You did an amazing job with these =) I'm going to have to try this!
Jun. 14, 2010 6:48 pm
I'm looking for superlatives! Excellent work, Pam!
Jun. 14, 2010 7:40 pm
Hi there Pam. You have yet another admirer, me. You have created something worthy of much praise. Proof positive that all things culinary are indeed art. Particularly baking and decorating. I'm sure your students are enjoying the cupcakes so much, they are unaware of the many lessons you are quietly instilling. They are like little gems tucked into the soft folds of lining in size small clothes. You took the time to fit in this fun endeavour while keeping the needs of your family foremost and in its place. First! Compromising can mean a happy outcome for everyone. You used your own imagination yet you were still appreciative of resources which gave you some helpful hints. You were not afraid to ask for help(The cake mix option made me smile.) You weren't threatened by the ideas and suggestions from others. Homework pays! Teamwork pays! Amidst the glory of success there were some errors, for example, the differing shades of chocolate. The world is full of different "colours" much like your butterfly bodies. You quoted the children "but they didn't care." These children unknowingly remind everyone that not everything is the same on the outside but if you try a little bite, the inside is delicious. A lesson for us all! Things aren't always perfect! They don't have to be! Posting here you gracefully accepted well meaning criticism without taking offence. Showing maturity, listening skills and maintaining an optimistic attitude. What I see here is someone who teaches by example, doing so with such care. Without saying, you demonstrate how much we should value all children. Better still, how the children will value themselves and in turn others. There will surely come a time when each and every student in this class will happen upon a situation where these skills will make a difference. The children will then have the opportunity to draw from this experience and share the same wisdom with the children in their lives. These traits do not always come naturally. Those who arm the young with compassion and care are treasures. The world needs more of you. Pam. Thank you.
Jun. 14, 2010 8:34 pm
Thank you, CYNJNE.
B L 
Jul. 10, 2010 3:53 pm
Hi Pam! Can't believe I haven't seen your blog before now - guess I don't read that many.... but I am really glad I stopped by! These are beautiful and you make it look so easy and fun! Maybe I will get inspired - I decorated 'character' cakes when my girls were younger - seems like such a long time ago. Your butterflies are gorgeous, even if I am seeing them late :) Thanks for visiting my first blog!
May 23, 2011 8:33 pm
Beautiful work, Pam! Considering sending my future children to you when they reach 2nd grade... you take boarders, right? ;)
May 24, 2011 5:56 pm
I made these for my kiddos end of the year dance party and they were a big hit. Thank you Pam for the easy to follow blog.
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Pam Ziegler Lutz

Home Town
Monroeville, Pennsylvania, USA

Member Since
Jan. 2003

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Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Mexican, Italian, Southern, Low Carb, Healthy, Dessert, Quick & Easy, Gourmet

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About Me
I have three teenage sons who are picky eaters (especially the middle one). I try to cook things that they might enjoy trying, but they're not always willing to try new things. My husband started out a picky eater when we met back in 1986, but he's gotten much better and is willing to try ALMOST anything I make. In my spare time I teach second grade. I have introduced my students to cooking and/or new foods over the years.
My favorite things to cook
I love to try all sorts of new recipes, so I don't really have a favorite thing to cook. I enjoy using fresh ingredients from the garden and canning those ingredients to use year-round. I also enjoy baking treats for my second grade class. I'll try almost anything if I think my family will eat it. Of course, I've been known to try a recipe because I want to, whether they'll eat it or not.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I love making the pumpkin pies and other desserts for Thanksgiving. I always like to try one new dessert for each holiday. Baking Christmas cookies is a tradition that goes back as long as I can remember.
My cooking triumphs
I've made some pretty cool cakes for my boys' birthdays. They include a firetruck, baseball, football, and Pokeball. I've also used shaped pans to decorate everything from Barney and Elmo, Power Ranger, Jeff Gordon's #24 racecar, football helmet, a dog and dog house, a monkey, a giant cupcake, and a penguin. Some recent cakes have been a pizza, chef's hat, and Topsy-Turvy (Mad Hatter Cake.) The last one didn't collapse - that was a real triumph! One of my best triumphs has been teaching my boys to cook. They'll never go hungry.
My cooking tragedies
The first time I cooked a turkey I relied on my thermometer to tell when it was done. It wasn't.
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