YOU WILL NEED…
– Cupcakes, cooled and ready to be decorated
– Frosting of your choice
– Fondant in white, black, yellow, and orange
– Food coloring in black (and yellow and orange if you need to color the fondant yourself)
– Corn starch or vegetable shortening (or both) to flour your surface / keep the fondant from sticking to your fingers and hands
TOOLS YOU WILL NEED…
– 2 1/4″ or 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter (these fit the top of a regular sized cupcake- the 2 1/4″ one leaves a tiny border– which is what I used in this tutorial–while the 2 1/2″ circle usually covers the entire top of the cupcake)
– Small rolling pin
– A smooth cutting board and / or silicone non-stick mat to work on (I put the mat onto the board)
– A cookie sheet lined with parchment or a second silicone mat to place the finished pieces as you work
– Toothpicks (to get the food coloring out and to paint)
– Brushes with a small, fine tip (you can pick up an assorted pack for cheap at Michael’s or Joanns. If the tips need to be finer you can cut them with scissors to thin out the bristles or make it the shape you’d like.)
– a knift with a small sharp point or an exacto knife
If you need to color any of your fondant, do it first, starting with the lightest color to the darkest. When you are done, wash your hands well and clean your surface so you don’t get any accidental smudges on your final pieces.
Start off by making the circle base/background for each of your decorations. I was making 9 cupcakes, 3 of each design so I needed:
– 3 white circles for Jack’s head
– 3 yellow circles for the cliff background
– 3 black circles for Zero’s background
Start with the lightest color first then finishing with the dark to keep any black from getting onto the white fondant.
Lightly dust your surface with the corn starch or get your hands a little greasy from the vegetable shortening. Then roll out the fondant about 1/8″ thick. Using your cookie cutter, press down firmly on the cutter then twist from side to side to make sure the cutter makes a clean cut. Remove the excess fondant and store it in some plastic wrap for later use. Carefully transfer your circles (use a knife or spatula to help you lift it up) onto a parchment lined cookie sheet or another mat. Now you can start working on the actual characters and scenes!
For Jack Skellington, start by shaping the eyes to attach to the white circles. I looked at pictures of him online and tried to imitate the shape. They are sort of rectangles that are rounded and uneven. This version of Jack is of a 3/4 view of his face, which is why the second eye is smaller. The second smaller eye is just a mirror reflection of the bigger eye.
Next, use a fine tipped brush that has been slightly dampened with water to paint on Jack’s nostrils and mouth with black food coloring.
The nostrils are just too short lines with the top tips leaning inwards.
For Jack’s mouth, first make his smile by following the edge of the circle, about 1/4″ in and paint that line from the mid point of his big eye to the bottom edge of the small eye. Then go back and add in the stitches which point in random directions and sometimes criss-cross to make an “x”.
ZERO THE GHOST DOG
For Zero, start by making a white circle with the fondant. (I wouldn’t recommend making it ahead of time when you are making the backgrounds because the fondant will start to crust and it won’t make a smooth cut when you try to cut Zero out.)
By starting with the circle, you can make sure to center Zero and take up the right amount of space on the background. Using the exacto knife or a regular knife, cut out the outline of Zero’s head, neck, and shoulders. Then go back and make the cuts for his mouth. Attach Zero to the black background with a little bit of water.
Zero’s ears are separate pieces of fondant, rolled out and cut, then attached with a little bit of water on the side of his head.
Then you can add the orange circle for his nose and cut an orange strip for his collar.
The last step is to paint in his eyes, jack-o-lantern nose, and the creases below his collar with black food coloring.
For the eyes, I like using a toothpick dipped into the food coloring. Sometimes you can touch the tip of the toothpick to the fondant and it makes a perfect circle. If it is too small, you can go over the dot in a small circular motion with the toothpick (indenting into the fondant is ok) and slowly make it larger and the size you desire.
For the jack-o-lantern, I also recommend using the tip of a toothpick to make the triangle eyes and nose and then a smiley curved mouth.
For the crease lines I used a brush with a very fine tip, slightly dampened with water, and drew the lines freehand.
JACK ON THE CLIFF
For Jack on the cliff, I rolled a piece of fondant into a long cone shape with the base being bigger and tapering off into a pointy end. Then I curled the tip in and flattened the entire piece. With the same cookie cutter you used to cut the backgrounds, I used that to trim the cliff edge so that the bottom would fit into the curve of the background easily. Add the cliffs to the yellow circles with a bit of water.
Then using a brush or a toothpick, draw the silhouette of Jack standing on the cliff. I used the movie poster as a guide.
Once you are done, I try to let the decorations sit for a few hours or even overnight so that it can set and the fondant hardens which makes it easier to place on the cupcakes.
When you are ready to place them, just ice your cupcakes and gently place then on top with a light push to make sure it sticks to the frosting.
Hope you have a Happy Halloween!
PS: For more Nightmare Before Christmas goodness, visit The Collectionary’s Nightmare Before Christmas page!