To make the gnome hats as I did, you will need a knit texture fondant impression mat. See blog post for sources.
Please note the recipe instructions for the gnome frosting beards – the frosting must be thick so it sticks to the side of the cupcake liner. Use extra powdered sugar to thicken the frosting if necessary.
Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
Combine the dry ingredients, then mix in the butter until crumbly.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry in two additions. Remove about 2/3 cup of batter to a small mixing bowl. Add peppermint extract and red food color. Stir until well-combined.
Divide vanilla batter among cupcake liners. Add a spoonful of red batter on top of each cake and swirl using a knife or skewer.
Bake the cupcakes for 16 to 18 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the middle cupcakes comes out clean.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven; after 5 minutes place them on a wire rack to cool.
Make the frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Begin on low speed until crumbly, add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons milk or cream. Increase to high and beat for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is thick, pale and fluffy. Add more milk or cream as needed. The frosting needs to be a little stiffer than usual for this recipe, so the gnome beards don’t slide of the sides of the cupcakes. You can test the consistency by piping a small amount on the outside of a drinking glass. If the frosting sticks, it is firm enough. If it slides down the glass, then add more powdered sugar to the frosting.
Transfer the frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip.
Make the hats and noses: Remove wrappers from sugar cones if necessary. Knead fondant well and roll half out on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with powdered sugar. (Cover other half with plastic wrap to prevent drying.) Lift the fondant onto the 4×6 texture mat and roll the fondant with a rolling pin. Flip the fondant over with the texture mat and remove the mat. Cut away the textured part of the fondant using a small paring knife. Brush small dabs of honey on a sugar cone. Wrap the textured fondant around the sugar cone and trim away the excess fondant at the bottom (open end of the cone) using a knife or scissors, but leave the excess at the top of the cone (the pointed end). Repeat steps with remaining cones. Let dry until firm, about 1 hour.
Make the noses by rolling each fruit chew into a ball between your palms. If the candies are too stiff to roll, microwave them one at a time for 5 seconds to soften; roll between palms.
Assembly: Place the cupcakes in sturdy free-standing cupcake papers (see blog post for sources). Pipe a little frosting on top of the cupcakes. Pipe more frosting down one side of the cupcake paper, swirling back and forth to create a gnome beard. Place the sugar cone hats on top of the cupcake. Add a fruit chew nose just above the beard. You may also pipe frosting on either side of the nose to create a mustache. Display the gnomes as an edible centerpiece on your dessert buffet.
See video tutorial for helpful techniques.
Keyword american buttercream, gnome cupcake, peppermint swirl cupcakes