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Jungle Animal Cupcakes

...Featuring the mighty king of the jungle himself and his adorable tree-top swinging sidekicks. Why these particular animals, you ask?

Well, because they are the favorite animals of an adorable little boy who turned two last week. And I was given the opportunity to make him the happiest birthday boy in the world by having them show up to his birthday party, in the form of delicious cupcakes! 

This was definitely one of my favorite cupcake decorating experiences. I've never done something quite as elaborate as these and I have to say, I enjoyed every second of putting them together, and making them "come alive" or so to speak.

I got the ideas for both cupcakes after doing a quick Google & Pinterest search. Apparently, monkey cupcakes are more popular than lion ones. I guess Curious George > Mufasa. Who knew?

Most of the lion cupcakes I saw were made out of fondant which is not my area of expertise. I also saw an idea for using caramel popcorn as the lion's mane, but it just didn't look right to me. I then had a light bulb go off and thought it would be brilliant to use grass tip #233 to pipe the lion's mane, but when I pictured it in my head, it didn't seem as fierce as a mane piped with a star tip. So I settled on the star tip, along with round tip #2 for the eyes, nose, mouth, and whiskers. And Cheerios for the ears.

For the monkey cupcakes, I used regular and mini Nilla wafers, as you probably already guessed, for the jaws and ears. I cut the top of the regular Nilla wafers off, leaving about 3/4 of the wafer. For the ears, I first tried using whole mini Nilla wafers but they proved to be too big and were taking up way too much space on the cupcake. So I cut a bit of them off as well before using and I placed them on the frosting at an angle so they would appear as if they're sticking out. The monkeys' eyes were piped with round tip #2, as were the tiny nostrils. And round tip #3 was used to pipe the smiles.

As far as flavors go, I opted for a banana cupcake for the monkeys and a chocolate cupcake for the lions. It probably would have made more sense for the monkey "bodies" to be brown and the lions to be yellow, but I had the flavor combinations in mind. Nothing is better than a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting, nor is anything more phenomenal than a banana cupcake with chocolate frosting! Right? Right? 

I love Mufasa to death and I still cry when I watch The Lion King, but the banana cupcakes stole my heart here. They paired so well with the chocolate frosting and Nilla wafers and they tasted just like chocolate banana pudding. I know this because I had lots of extra cupcakes from the batch I made, which I all devoured. I do hope the birthday boy didn't have a problem eating his furry friends, because I sure didn't :)

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