Bird and Blossom Birthday Cupcakes

My mother-in-law celebrated a milestone birthday last month, and I brought some cupcakes to her official birthday party earlier today. They're Red Velvet, frosted with my favorite light-as-air Italian meringue buttercream combined with a little melted Scharffen Berger milk chocolate, to echo the subtle note of cocoa in the Red Velvet sponge.

The toppers were made from white-chocolate fondant and painted by hand with edible gel colors and various luster dusts.  I used rubber stamps to emboss the blossom images before painting them. (Note: I use those stamps for food only. I only have time for one creative outlet right now, and scrapbooking isn't it.)  She loves birds, so the little sugar blue jays and robins were a nod to her mad bird-identification skills (or should that be skillz?). The cupcakes were a hit, but really, who wouldn't smile at such cheerful cupcake toppers?  These things are the perfect Grinch test.  If you get one, and you don't grin madly, then you're a sourpuss for sure.

Indeed, Happiest of Birthdays to my awesome M-I-L.