Unicorn cupcakes recipe

Add a little splash of color and magic to your next celebration with these unicorn cupcakes – they’re simple to make and a great way to get your kids involved in baking.

You will need a 12 cup muffin tray, 12 muffin cases, a 7.5cm/3in diameter circular pastry cutter, and a piping bag with a small star tip nozzle.


For the sponge

  • 200g/7oz salted butter, at room temperature
  • 200g/7oz caster sugar
  • 4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200g/7oz self-raising flour
  • 100g/3½oz multi-colored sprinkles or confetti

For the buttercream

  • 375g/13oz salted butter, at room temperature
  • 750g/1lb 10oz icing sugar
  • 1½ tbsp vanilla extract

To decorate

  • 50g/1¾oz icing sugar
  • 50g/1¾oz cornflour
  • 750g/1lb 10oz white fondant icing
  • edible lustre powder or spray
  • 2 dashes pink and purple food coloring
  • 50g/1¾oz sprinkles
  • black writing icing


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.
  2. To make the cupcakes, beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a handheld electric whisk on a high speed until pale and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the eggs bit by bit, mixing on high speed after each addition. Add the vanilla, then add half of the flour. Mix until combined, then add the rest of the flour and mix until you have a smooth cake batter. Add the sprinkles and fold them through with a spatula.
  3. Divide the cake batter between the 12 muffin cases using an ice cream scoop or two spoons. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning after 17 minutes so they color evenly. Some cupcakes may bake more quickly than others so don’t be afraid to remove some from the oven earlier than others. Remember to remove the cupcakes from the tin once they are out of the oven, otherwise, the cases may steam off. Leave to cool on a wire rack while you make the buttercream. Once cool, place the cupcakes in the freezer for 10 minutes – it’ll make them easier to work with when decorating.
  4. To make the buttercream, place the salted butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Sift the icing sugar on top, bring the mixture together at a low speed, then beat at high speed for a few minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  5. Put a generous spoon of buttercream on each cupcake, and smooth around with a small palette to make a dome. Set aside the remaining buttercream.
  6. To make the decorations, mix the icing sugar and cornflour together in a bowl. Dust your palm with the cornflour mixture and use that to smooth the cupcake domes. Repeat this for all the cupcakes.
  7. Dust a clean work surface with some more of the cornflour mixture and roll out the white fondant icing to 4mm/ ¼in thick. A circle of fondant with the 7.5cm/3in diameter circular pastry cutter and smooth it over the dome of the cupcake, gently stretching it down using your index finger. Repeat this for all 12 cupcakes then leave them to stand at room temperature.
  8. Bring the remaining fondant back together and color half of it with pink food coloring. On a surface dusted with the cornflour mixture, roll out both the pink and white fondant to 2mm/⅛in thick and cut out the ear shapes as shown in the picture. Use a tiny amount of water to stick the pink inner ear section to the white outer ear.
  9. Use the scraps of pink fondant to make the horns. Take a ball of pink fondant the size of a walnut then rolls it into a thin tube shape with tapered ends. Bend the tube in the middle to bring the ends together, then twist the ends around each other to make a spiral. Leave the decorations to dry overnight on greaseproof paper, or dry them out for 30 minutes in a 60C oven. Leave to cool, then brush the horns with the luster dust or spray.
  10. Add a dash of purple coloring to the remaining buttercream and mix until you have the desired color. Fit the piping bag with the star nozzle and pipe swirls on the ‘forehead’ of a cupcake. Decorate with the horn and the ears, then scatter on the sprinkles. Do one cupcake at a time, otherwise, the buttercream will dry out and the sprinkles won’t stick. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, then pipe on the eyes as shown in the picture, using writing icing or a fine brush dipped in food coloring, thinned out with water.

Zayd Nijenhuis

Read Previous

Salted caramel cake recipe