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Dessert Recipes

Turkey Pilgrim Cupcakes

Everyone’ll gobble up these too-cute cupcakes made with pumpkin pie-spiced chocolate cake and vanilla-molasses frosting.

Serving Size:


Active Time:

2 hrs., 45 mins.

Total Time:

4 hrs. + drying time



  • ¾ tsp. tylose powder, such as Wilton Gum-Tex
  • Brown, golden yellow, orange, no-taste red
    and black concentrated food colorings
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbs. white fondant
  • 12 (3 ½”) wooden skewers
  • Cornstarch
  • Light corn syrup
  • 12 toothpicks


  • 1 pkg. (15.25 oz.) butter-recipe chocolate cake mix
  • Water, butter and eggs
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice


  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbs. molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Mixed red, orange, yellow and brown sprinkles


Make decorations:

  1. Line baking sheets with wax paper. For turkey hats, knead ¼ tsp. tylose powder and⅛ tsp. brown food coloring into 1½ cup fondant. Keep fondant covered when not in use. Divide 6 Tbs. brown fondant into 12 portions; shape each into 1 ½”x ¾ ” cylinder with rounded top. For brims, on cornstarch-dusted surface, roll out remaining brown fondant to ⅛” thickness; using 1 ½” round cutter, cut out 12 rounds. Brush flat bottoms of cylinders with corn syrup; attach each to 1 brim, then push skewer through brim into cylinder. Place, skewer side up, on baking sheet.
  2. Knead ⅛ tsp. golden yellow food coloring into ½ cup fondant. Wrap and reserve 1 Tbs. for hat buckles. Knead ¼ tsp. tylose powder into remaining yellow fondant; wrap. Knead ⅛ tsp. tylose powder and dot of orange food coloring into ⅓ cup of remaining untinted fondant; wrap. Knead dot of red food coloring into ⅔ cup of remaining untinted fondant. Wrap and reserve ¼  cup red fondant for waddles and hat bands. Knead ⅛ tsp. tylose powder into remaining red fondant; wrap.
  3. For beaks, divide 3 Tbs. yellow fondant into 12 portions; shape each into 1″x ½” cone. Push toothpicks into centers; place on baking sheet.
  4. For feathers, working with one color of remaining fondant at a time, on cornstarch-dusted surface, roll out to ⅛” thickness. Using 6-petal flower-shaped cookie cutters, cut out 12 (1 ½”) yellow shapes, 24 (3″) orange shapes and 12 (4½”) red shapes. For wings, cut 12 orange shapes in half. For red feathers, trim off ⅓ of each shape; discard trimmings. Transfer all cutouts to baking sheets. Let dry until hard, 24-48 hours.

Make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 mini muffin and 12 regular muffin cups with cupcake liners. Prepare cake mix with water, butter and eggs according to package directions, adding pumpkin pie spice. Fill each mini liner with 1 Tbs. batter. Evenly divide remaining batter among regular liners. Bake mini cupcakes 15-18 minutes and regular cupcakes 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on racks.

Make frosting:

  1. On medium speed, beat butter until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. On low, gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar, then molasses and vanilla. On medium-high, beat until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Transfer 2 Tbs. frosting to separate bowl; tint black with food coloring. Transfer to plastic sandwich bag; reserve.


  1. For turkey faces, spread each mini cupcake with 1 Tbs. frosting. Spread remaining frosting over regular cupcakes, slightly mounding in centers; roll in sprinkles to coat completely. Place each mini cupcake, side down with frosting facing forward, on top of each regular cupcake. Insert hats into tops of mini cupcakes. Insert beaks into frosted faces. Refrigerate.
  2. Assemble tail feathers: On surface, stack yellow and orange flowers on top of red flowers, as shown, using corn syrup to attach.
  3. On cornstarch-dusted surface, roll out reserved red fondant to ⅛” thickness. For hat bands, cut out 12 (3″x 1¼”) strips; wrap around hats, trimming excess. From remaining red fondant, shape 12 wattles. Attach to beaks with syrup. For hat buckles, roll out reserved yellow fondant to ⅛” thickness. Cut out 12 (½”x1 ¼”) rectangles. Attach to hat bands with syrup.
  4. For eyeballs, divide remaining 2 Tbs. untinted fondant into 24 pieces; roll into balls. Flatten slightly; push into frosting. Snip tiny hole in one corner of bag with black frosting; pipe pupils onto eyeballs. Insert tail feathers into frosting in regular cupcakes. Insert wings into frosting on either side of face.

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