Philosophy and Food



My little sister turned 9 this weekend, and we wanted something special for her birthday party. Knowing that she’s a die-hard My Little Pony fan, we opted for unicorn cupcakes.

I started out the process a bit apprehensive. They seemed like SO much work. Once I got started, though, I realized they’re actually pretty easy. They definitely take more time than your standard cupcake, but the end result is totally worth the investment.

In my little sister’s words, “They’re too beautiful to eat.”

The coolest thing about them is that they make you look like a modern marvel of baking genius, when actually anyone is capable of making them.

The most time-consuming part is making the unicorn horns and even that goes really quickly once you get into the groove.

I was tackling these during the workweek for a Friday party, so I saved myself some headache by making the cupcakes the day before and assembling all the decorations the next day. Totally optional, but it felt a little less daunting tackling that way.



Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 1 box white cake mix prepared according to instructions
  • Red and Blue food coloring
  • 1 cup butter 2 sticks – softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 4 oz. fondant premade
  • Food color spray I used Wilton Color Mist in Pearl
  • Sprinkles I used Wilton White Sugar Pearls Sprinkles

Special Equipment:

  • Tri-color frosting coupler I used Wilton ColorSwirl
  • Toothpicks
  • Small heart-shaped cookie cutter less than 1 in. diameter


Bake the cupcakes.

  1. Divide batter in half, and add two drops red food coloring to one half and one drop red, one drop blue to the other half. Swirl batter into the cupcake tins, filling 2/3 of the way to the top. To swirl the batter, I did a few rounds of pouring each color of batter into its own ziplock bag with one corner sliced open.
  2. Bake cupcakes according to box instructions. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool completely on cooling rack.

Build the unicorn horns and ears:

  1. Take the fondant out and separate into small sections. Create one small sphere about the size of your thumbnail for each horn. As you’re working, keep any remining fondant covered with wax paper of plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.
  2. Roll each sphere out into a long snake-like noodle. Then, take one of your toothpicks and begin winding the fondant around the toothpick from the base to the pointed end. Set aside.
  3. Do the same until you have the necessary number of horns. As the fondant dries, it will harden. Take the slightly hardened horns and roll them gently on the counter or cutting board until the coils flatten and become more uniform. Spray horns with food color spray.
  4. To create the ears, take all the remaining fondant and roll it into a ball. Flatten, and then roll it out with a rolling pin until it’s a thin sheet, roughly 1/8 in. thick. Use your small heart-shaped cookie cutter to create two hearts per cupcake. Once they’re cut out, pinch the rounded tops of the hearts together to create the ears. Set aside.

Prepare the frosting.

  1. Prep the tri-color coupler frosting kit according to instructions.
  2. Add softened butter to a stand mixer (or a large bowl and use a hand-mixer) and beat at medium speed (using the paddle attachment) until the butter is smooth – could take 10 seconds or less.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and one cup of powdered sugar, using the lowest speed. Continue adding powdered sugar one cup at a time. Once all the powdered sugar has been incorporated, slowly increase the speed until you’re at medium to medium high. Allow to whip for a few minutes until the frosting becomes smooth and fluffy. If it seems too thick, add a teaspoon of milk to help thin it out.
  4. Divide the finished frosting into three sections. Add one of the three sections to a bag from the frosting kit, and put a second section into a separate bowl. In the mixer, add a drop of red food coloring to the last section of frosting and beat at medium-high speed until it turns a soft pink. Add to the second bag of the coupler. Then, clean the mixer and do the same for the blue frosting, adding it to the last bag.

Frost and decorate the cupcakes.

  1. Frost each cupcake and add the unicorn horns and ears. Then, arrange sprinkles on top. Spray with color mist to add a shimmery sheen at the end.

  2. Prepare yourself for many compliments on your prowess.

Recipe Notes

The lemon extract isn’t necessarily, but it adds a lightness and brightness to the cupcakes that you don’t get with only vanilla flavoring. Highly recommend this addition. For the frosting, I use clear imitation vanilla extract so it remains very white. This recipe is simplified, but you can easily make your own batter and fondant to make it even more elaborate.

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