Mermaid Cupcakes are gorgeous cupcakes inspired by the ocean and the magic of mermaids! Tropical coconut cupcakes are decorated with toasted coconut "sand," edible mermaid tails, sugar pearls, and shimmering chocolate seashells. I like making these into jumbo cupcakes to maximize decorating space on top, but this also works well with regular-sized cupcakes if you prefer. If you can’t find International Delight Almond Joy coffee creamer, you can substitute another flavor of creamer, or an equal amount of milk. If you use milk, make sure to add a flavoring extract of your choice to make up for losing the coconut flavor of the creamer.
Fill 10 jumbo cupcake cavities with paper liners. (Alternately, you can make approximately 20-24 regular sized cupcakes.) Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Combine all the ingredients for the cupcakes and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, then scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl well. Divide the batter between the cupcake cavities, filling them about ¾ full.
Bake the cupcakes for 22-25 minutes, until golden around the edges and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. (If you are making regular-sized cupcakes, baking time will most likely be around 18-20 minutes.) Cool completely before decorating.
To Make the Frosting:
Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until creamy and light in color. Add the powdered sugar, 6 TBSP of creamer, and salt, and mix well, until light and fluffy. If the frosting is too stiff for your liking, slowly stream in the remaining 2 TBSP creamer, a bit at a time, until you get a texture you like.
Divide the frosting in half: place half of it in a large piping bag fitted with a large round tip or coupler, and color the other half blue. Place the blue frosting in a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip. (I used Ateco tip #849).
Print out the mermaid tail template, or draw your own. Tape it to a baking sheet and set a piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of it. Melt the colored candy coating in individual bowls in the microwave, and place each color in a disposable piping bag with a small hole snipped in the end.
Trace the template with one color of candy coating. Embed a toothpick into the bottom of one of the tails, leaving at least 1.5 inches sticking out. If desired, outline the end of the tail in a second color and drag a flat, dry paintbrush through the end of the tail, feathering out the chocolate and blending the colors. (If you use the paintbrush, it does thin the coating, so you might want to do 2 layers of this if you tail seems too thin.) Take a contrasting color and drizzle it over the bottom of the tail to create a cross-hatch design. Repeat until you have as many tails as you have cupcakes.
Chill the mermaid tails for about 10 minutes. Gently remove them from the parchment, and trim off any stray pieces of coating coming off the sides. Brush the tails with a dry coat of pearl dust, if desired, to give them a little glimmer.
Pipe the white buttercream in a fat ring around the outside edge of a cupcake. You’ll probably want to go around twice, to get the ring of frosting at least ½-inch tall. Gently press toasted coconut into the white frosting, to represent the sand.
Pipe a big swirl of blue frosting inside the toasted coconut ring, making sure that the swirl comes up a few inches above the coconut. Insert a chocolate mermaid tail into the middle of the blue swirl. Decorate the frosting with blue sprinkles, various sizes of sugar pearls, and chocolate shells. (You could also use gummy fish or sharks, graham cracker goldfish, or any other ocean-themed edible decorations you can find!)
For the best taste and texture, store these cupcakes in an airtight container and serve at room temperature. They are best eaten within 2-3 days of assembly.
To toast coconut, spread it out on a baking sheet and toast it in a 350-degree oven, stirring well every 3-4 minutes. Exact time will depend on the moisture level of the coconut, but it usually takes about 2-4 cycles of stirring for my coconut to reach a golden brown color. If you’re a coconut hater, graham cracker crumbs can be used instead.