I watched The Hunger Games movie the weekend right after it came out. Overall, it was pretty good (I'd watch it again), but like most movie adaptations, not as good as the book, which I absolutely adore.
There were many things I enjoyed about the movie. The casting was great, especially the actors cast for Cinna, Effie, Caesar Flickerman, and Rue (hoping for an equally good cast for Catching Fire: Finnick!!!). Non-spoiler things I enjoyed in the movie: Seneca Crane's beard, the fire dress (exactly how I imagined it), and awkward Gale scenes. Anyway, if you haven't read the books, I highly recommend that you read them! In particular, read Catching Fire, my favorite :).
I've been meaning to bake something Hunger Games themed for a while. Finally, I decided to make cupcakes based on different Hunger Games characters. Since Katniss is the protagonist, I had to make a cupcake based on her. These were inspired by the costume she wore to represent District 12 (the black one that lit on fire) and her archery.
Peeta is my second favorite character, after Finnick, so he got cupcake as well (sorry Gale, Peeta's the nice, artistic boy who paints and bakes). In the arena, he uses his awesome cake icing skills to imitate nature in order to camouflage himself, so I topped off his cakes with pretty, "natural" frosting leaves. And because he is the "boy with the bread", I finished each cupcake with a chocolate bread slice.
I loved Effie's "look" in the movie, so I thought to take an element from her appearance and adapt it to a cupcake. I ended up representing her hair with curly pink swirls of frosting and adorned the frosting hair with big purple flowers.
Of course the villain of the story needs to be represented as well, so President Snow got a cupcake as well. His signature items are the genetically modified white roses always pinned to his lapel, which he uses to mask his bloody breath. Thus, my cupcakes based on him are iced in black and topped with white blood-stained roses.
Hunger Games Cupcakes
my go-to chocolate cake recipe
lemon frosting recipe (below)
Use the ingredient measurements for the "small" chocolate cake in the link above and follow the instructions to make the cake batter (just a warning, it's more cake soup than batter; don't worry, it's supposed to be very watery). Fill two muffin pans with cupcake liners so 20-22 cups are lined. Pour cake batter into each cupcake liner so that the muffin cups are between 1/2 to 2/3 the way full.
Bake the cupcakes for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling before decorating. Make the lemon frosting and decorate using the four different cupcake instructions below.
Makes 20-22 cupcakes.
adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
3-5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Mix the butter and salt. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix. Add in the lemon juice and lemon extract. Continue adding 2-4 more cups of powdered sugar until it reaches your desired stiffness.
Note: Because this frosting is all butter-based, it will melt if it's too hot (I learned this first hand in a warm car). So if you're planning on serving these cupcakes in hot weather, either keep them refrigerated and let them warm to room temperature before serving or look for a shortening-based frosting to substitute for this one.
Decorating the Cupcakes
pink food coloring
purple food coloring
yellow confetti sprinkles
star frosting tip
Tint about 4/5 of the frosting light pink. Cover all the cupcakes with a thin layer of pink frosting, as a crumb coat. Put the rest of the pink frosting in a piping bag with a star tip. To make a frosting spiral, start your tip at the center and move out either clockwise or counterclockwise (whichever direction you choose, cw or ccw, stick with it for the rest of the spirals).
Squeeze a ring of pink frosting spirals around each cupcake, making sure that the frosting spirals touch the edge of the cupcake wrapper, covering up all the chocolate cake underneath. Continue adding frosting spirals until the whole cupcake is covered.
Tint the remaining frosting purple. Place the frosting in a piping bag with a petal tip. Make a petal on the cupcake by positioning the thick part of the petal tip facing where the center of the flower will be and the thin part of the petal tip facing out and make a little arc while squeezing the piping bag (if unsure, first practice on a piece of parchment paper). Repeat until you have six joined purple petals.
To finish, squeeze a little purple frosting in the center of the flower and press five round yellow sprinkles into the the dab of frosting, with the sprinkles overlapping one another in a circle.
orange food coloring
brown food coloring
bamboo skewers, each cut into 3 pieces
red, orange, yellow paper (I used origami paper)
Take a long strip of yellow paper, about 3/4 inch wide. Over the yellow paper, glue a long strip of orange paper, 2/3 the width of the yellow paper, lining it up with the bottom edge of the yellow paper strip. Over the orange paper, glue a long strip of red paper, 1/2 the width of the orange paper = 1/3 the width of the yellow paper, lining it up with the bottom edge of both the orange and yellow paper strips. Let the now tri-colored paper strip dry before continuing. (Sorry, steps 1 & 2 in the illustration above don't exactly match my written instructions since the paper in the picture aren't long strips).
Now cut the paper strips into little pieces (illustrated in step 3). For step 4, cut a triangle out from the yellow side of a paper piece to form the tail of the arrow end and cut the red side of the paper piece so that it forms a point to make the tip of the arrow end. Repeat with the rest of the paper pieces.
Take two trimmed paper pieces and glue them around the end of one of your bamboo skewer thirds with the tri-colored sides facing outwards. It helps the paper stick together if you pinch the paper together around the skewer. Repeat with the rest of the trimmed papers and the bamboo skewer thirds. Let the arrow toppers dry completely before using them.
Frosting Katniss Cupcakes
Tint half of the lemon frosting brown in one bowl and tint the other half of the frosting orange in another bowl. Cover all the cupcakes with a thin layer of brown frosting as a crumb coat. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes for the crumb coat to harden. Add little dollops of orange frosting in the shape of a spiral on the top of the frosting. Use a knife or your fingers to smooth it out into a neat spiral.
Add dollops of brown frosting in a spiral in the negative space not covered by orange frosting and smooth out the brown frosting. Finish up by sticking one of the arrow toppers into each cupcake.
President Snow Cupcake
black food coloring
red food coloring
petal frosting tip
leaf frosting tip
Frosting Snow Cupcakes
Tint a third of the frosting black. Frost all the cupcakes with a layer of black frosting. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes for the black frosting to harden.
Tint 1/6 of the remaining frosting light green. Place it in a piping bag with a leaf tip. With one of the pointy metal parts of the tip touching the cupcake and the other point pointing upwards (the points are what make the line in the middle of the leaf), pipe 5 green leaves on each of the cupcakes, squeezing the piping bag, releasing the pressure as you pull away from the cupcake. Chill the cupcakes for 5 minutes for the leaves to harden.
Keep the remaining frosting white and place it in a piping bag with a petal tip. Position the piping bag at the center of the cupcake with the thick part of the petal tip touching the cupcake and the thin part of the tip pointing up. Follow the illustration above to make the frosting roses. First, squeeze out a cone of frosting; the ends of the cone should overlap and the bottom of it should stick to the cupcake.
Next, squeeze out two petals around the cone; the two petals should overlap, and together, should totally wrap around the cone. Add another layer of petals, 3-4 petals. Continue adding layers of overlapping petals (each new layer should have more petals than the previous) until they cover about 1/3-1/2 of the surfaces of the frosting leaves.
Mix a drop of red food coloring with some corn syrup. Add more food coloring if the color isn't dark enough. Take a toothpick and dot the "blood" onto random petals of the frosting roses. Use it sparingly; in this case, less is more.
Note: It is best to dot the fake blood right before serving the cupcakes. If dotted on too early, like the day before, the food coloring might bleed (hehe) into the frosting.
green food coloring
yellow food coloring
brown food coloring
semisweet (or milk) chocolate
leaf frosting tip
Bread Slice Toppers
Melt white chocolate to form the crumb of the bread. Drop a bit of white chocolate on a piece of parchment paper and use a toothpick to shape it into a small circle. Add another circle right next to it, overlapping the edge of the first one. Then add a small rectangle under the two circles, overlapping the bottom edges of the two circles.
Smooth out the overlapping edges between the two circles and the rectangle and then let the white chocolate bread slice-shaped pieces dry (they should be about 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch). Once dry, remove the pieces from the parchment paper and flip them over so the smooth side is facing upwards.
To form the bread crust, melt semisweet chocolate and mix bit of the leftover white chocolate so that the brown of the chocolate isn't so dark. Follow the above instructions for making the bread slice-shaped pieces with the semisweet chocolate, just make the shapes a bit bigger than the white chocolate pieces.
Before the semisweet chocolate bread shapes are dry, press one of the dry white chocolate pieces (smooth side facing up/textured side facing down) into the center of each semisweet chocolate shape. Let the semisweet chocolate dry. Once dry, remove the bread slice toppers from the parchment paper.
Frosting Peeta Cupcakes:
Tint all of the frosting light green. Frost all of the cupcakes with a layer of light green frosting. Put 1/3 of the green frosting in a piping bag with a leaf tip. Pipe light green leaves randomly over the surfaces of all the cupcakes. To pipe leaves, have one of the pointy metal parts of the tip facing up while the other point touches the cupcake and squeeze, adding less pressure as you pull away from the cupcake.
Next, add more green food coloring to another third of the frosting so the frosting ends up a darker green. Place the dark green frosting in the piping bag and randomly pipe leaves over all the cupcakes; start to fill in the empty spots without leaves.
Take the remainder of the frosting and add a bit of yellow, brown, and green food coloring (only a little) so you get an olive green colored frosting. Place it into the piping bag and pipe leaves, filling in all the spots on the cupcakes without leaves. To finish off, lightly press one of the bread slice toppers into the center of each cupcake.
And to finish off the post, here's the Katniss-themed cupcakes with all three Hunger Games novels.