Join Minnie Mouse as she celebrates summer with these Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort-inspired Tropical Minnie Ears Cupcakes! All you need is chocolate cupcakes, topped with vanilla frosting, bright sprinkles, hibiscus flower icing decorations, and tropical plant leaf Minnie Mouse Ears. A must for all Disney-lovers summer celebrations!
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Tropical Minnie Ears Cupcakes
The full ingredients list and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. I highly recommend reading the blog post all the way through so that you don’t miss any tips or substitution suggestions, to ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required and understand the steps and timings involved.
We love all things tropical on The Purple Pumpkin Blog, and if you do too, make sure you check out these 50+ Hawaiian Recipes for a Hawaiian Tropical Party as well as these Luau Party Food Recipes – What To Serve At A Hawaiian Luau Party!
The latest dessert recipe to add to the list are these stunning Tropical Minnie Ears Cupcakes!
They are a simple cake mix chocolate cupcake topped with vanilla frosting. (However, you could easily turn them into chocolate-coconut cupcakes with coconut frosting, by using coconut extract instead of vanilla!
These brightly colored cupcakes are inspired by Disney’s Polynesian Villa Resort, which happens to be our Home Resort at Walt Disney World where we are Disney Vacation Club Members! Everything about that resort fills me with joy, as do these tropical cupcakes!
Minnie’s ears are made using fondant, which might look tricky, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. And the flowers and leaves are ready-made icing decorations that you’ll find at a bakery, cake, or craft store.
If you’re an experienced cake maker you can probably jump straight to the recipe at the end of this post and get baking! But if not, please read through the steps as I’ve got lots of tips and suggestions along the way!
Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe
You may have some baking ingredients in your kitchen already – the full list with measurements is found in the recipe card.
For your convenience, any specialized or notable ingredients and equipment needed to make these cupcakes have been listed below and linked to Amazon or other stores if available online.
Cupcakes & Frosting Ingredients
- Box of Chocolate Cake Mix – the usual additional ingredients are changed to butter, milk, and eggs to enrich the cake mix.
- Powdered Sugar – also known as Icing Sugar and Confectioner’s Sugar.
- Pure Vanilla Extract – always buy good vanilla as it really does make a flavor difference.
- Alternatively, you could use coconut extract to the cupcakes and frosting to give a touch of tropical flavor!
- Wilton Fondant – these come in 4.4oz packages and just the right size for these cupcakes, but you can use any brand you like.
- White Fondant – for Minnie’s Ears
- Edible Mark Pens – two shades of green if possible.
- Tropical Sprinkles Mix – you will need pink, orange, yellow, green, purple, and blue sprinkles (Wilton sells a set of jimmies in these colors). Make a mix of your own with different single sprinkle types, or buy a ready-made mix. Whatever you use, you will want about 2 cups to decorate the cupcakes.
- Tropical Leaf and Flower (Hibiscus) Icing Decorations – Wilton can come to the rescue on these decorations – if you can find them in your local cake or craft supply store – I can’t find the hibiscus ones on Amazon at the moment.
That said there are other options, like eBay or cake stores online. Check Hobbycraft in the UK and a brand call Culpitt. I found leaves in this set of flowers, that could be used, and The Cook’s Cupboard (UK) had this tropical flowers and birds set. You could also check out individual cake makers on sites like eBay, Amazon, or Etsy
If you are already a cake maker, you may be skilled enough to pipe your own decorations or cut them out of fondant using shaped regular or plunger cutters.
Cupcake Decorating Equipment
- Round Cookie Cutter – to cut out Minnie’s Ears you will need a 2″/5cm cutter.
- Fondant Rolling Pin – these have a smooth surface and won’t leave a texture on your fondant when rolling out.
- Large Piping Bag – you can use disposable or reuseable, your choice.
- Large Star Tip – for example, Wilton 1M
- Tropical Leaf Stencil – look for one that can be used in journals as they will be smaller. Alternatively you can freehand drawing the leaves onto Minnie’s ears.
Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog use both cup measurements and/or weighted measurements. American cups and kitchen food scales are handy pieces of equipment to have in your kitchen as it means you’ll be able to make all of the different recipes on my blog! I try to give American, imperial, and metric measurements in my recipes. You can mix cup measurements with weighted measurements, but never imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.,) with metric (kilograms, grams, litres, etc.,).
Tropical Minnie Ears Cupcake Recipe Tips
Some elements of these cupcakes are made with fondant (also known as sugarpaste): Minnie’s Ears
Fondant needs time to dry before using as cake decorations, so allow up to 24 hours to get the pieces made before making and decorating your cupcakes.
If you have never worked with fondant before, don’t panic – it is really easy to use, follow my tips and you’ll be just fine!
- Line a cookie sheet(s) or tray(s)with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat to place the fondant pieces on to dry.
- Dust your work surface with powdered sugar (icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar) or cornstarch (cornflour) so that the fondant doesn’t stick. Think of it like the way you use flour when rolling dough.
- Rub a little powdered sugar/cornstarch into your hands and knead a handful of the fondant to make it more pliable before rolling, rather than using straight from the package.
- Dust your rolling pin too, and roll fondant to about ¼” thick. Some fondant rolling pins have guides you can use. You don’t want it too thick as it will take ages to dry, and you don’t want it too thin as it will become more tricky to work with.
- Cutting the Ears: Pour a little pile of powdered sugar onto your surface and dip the cookie cutter into it before cutting the ears – again, this is to prevent sticking.
- If there is excess powdered sugar on the pieces, you can gently brush away with a pastry brush, or an unused, clean paintbrush.
- Alternatively, you can use a vodka spray. Pour some vodka into a mini spray bottle and gently mist the fondant wings. Vodka dries quicker than water which is why it is usually used when handling fondant.
- Always make extra pieces – that way if some break or you have another mishap, you have got backups that you can use.
- Leave the cut fondant pieces to harden in a cool, dry place – do not place in the fridge.
- The fondant pieces should be solid enough to handle and insert into the cupcakes after 3 – 6 hours. I personally like to leave fondant pieces to dry for around 24 hours. How long this takes, however, is based on the size and thickness of the fondant, and how humid your house is, so you will need to judge if they will hold up as they need to in the cupcakes.
- If you need to paint or draw onto fondant, make sure the pieces have had time to dry first so that the edible ink or paint doesn’t bleed. Unless that is the look you are going for or the recipe says otherwise.
- When making cakes or cupcakes that use fondant decorations I like to make them a few days ahead of time which allows for drying without stress. Fondant that isn’t dry enough can mean disappointing end results.
- After using fondant the surface will be super sticky (it always is in my experience!) so you will probably have to wipe away the sugar first, then give it a soapy hot wash over, and then another clean over! You can always buy a fondant rolling mat for easier cleanup.
- Always keep fondant covered when making decorations to prevent it from drying out. And when you’ve finished, wrap up any remaining fondant very well – I double wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container. This keeps it fresh and you are able to use it for future cake making.
Cupcake Making Tips
- These cupcakes are made using a box of cake mix – the flavor is enriched by using butter, milk, and eggs, instead of the usual oil, water, and eggs. Add a teaspoon of coconut extract to the mixture if you want to turn the cupcakes into chocolate-coconut cupakes.
- Use your choice of cupcake liners – themed to the cupcakes, plain white or black, or a complimentary color.
- Use an ice cream scoop to equally divide the cupcake mixture between the cupcake liners. Fill them about three-quarters full.
- The cupcakes should be ready in about 20 minutes – test their doneness by inserting a toothpick into the cakes. It should come out clean when the cupcakes are cooked all the way through. Bake for an extra 2 minutes and check again.
- Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Cupcake Frosting Tips
- When making the frosting you want the end result to be creamy, smooth, and to hold a stiff peak. You may have to adjust the amount of powdered sugar and cream slightly to achieve the consistency you need.
- These cupcakes are double-frosting, the first layer is flattened and rounded off a bit to create the base for lots of sprinkles, and then there is a swirl of two-tone frosting on top of that. Put an ice cream scoop to good use again for the first frosting layer and use a knife or angled spatula to level it off.
- SPRINKLES! SPRINKLES! Following the color theme provided in the recipe, you can use any type you like such as nonpareils, jimmies, stars, confetti, pearls, or shapes – you’ll need about 2 cups of them in total to cover the cupcakes.
- Use a piping bag fitted with a large star tip to pipe the swirl on top of the sprinkle layer.
- If you feel like you are going to be making a lot of cakes and cupcakes in your future, I think it is worth investing in a set of piping tips so that you know you always have the right ones on hand for a recipe.
- Do not overfill the piping bag with frosting, and make sure you squeeze the frosting down the bag to expel any air bubbles.
- If you are not confident with your piping skills you can practice on some parchment paper first and scoop the frosting back into the bag to use on the cupcakes.
More Disney Cupcake Recipes
Looking for more Disney cupcakes to make? Check these recipes out next:
- Donut Ears Minnie Mouse Cupcakes
- How To Make Awesome Disney Ears Loki Cupcakes For Marvel Fans!
- Nightmare Before Christmas Sally Cupcakes
How Do I Make Tropical Minnie Ears Cupcakes?
Just check out the recipe card below with full ingredients, and instructions. You can print the card out too (don’t worry, the pics don’t print to save your ink!).
For the Fondant Ears & Bow
- Cornstarch (cornflour), for dusting
- 1 (4.4oz) package of White Fondant
- 2 Green Edible Marker Pens (2 different shades)
For the Cupcakes
- 1 box of chocolate cake mix
- ½ cup of unsalted butter, softened
- 1¼ cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
For the Frosting
- 1½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4½ cups powdered sugar (icing sugar)
- 5-7 Tbsp heavy whipping cream (double cream)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Tropical Sprinkles Mix*
- Pink Sprinkles
- Orange Sprinkles
- Yellow Sprinkles
- Green Sprinkles
- Purple Sprinkles
- Blue Sprinkles
- 1 package of wilton mini floral icing decorations
- 1 package of wilton tropical floral icing decorations
- 1 package of royal icing leaf decorations
- Use cornstarch as you would flour when making dough. Dust your work surface, hands, rolling pin, and cutters. Line a cookie sheet or tray with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.
- Knead the white fondant in your hands to make it soft and pliable and roll to ¼"/0.5cm thick.
- Using a 2"/5cm round cookie cutter, cut out 48 white circles to create Minnie's ears.
TIP! Always make extra fondant decorations as backup!
- Place the white circles onto the prepared cookie sheet.
- Leave the white circles to dry overnight.
- To decorate the ears after they have dried, place the leaf stencil on top of each of the white circles and use the two different shades of green edible marker to color on the leaves. You can do this free hand if you have the artistic confidence to do so!
- To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners and set aside.
- Using an electric handheld or stand mixer, place the cake mix, butter, milk, and eggs into a large bowl and mix until combined and smooth.
- Use an ice cream scoop to divide the cupcake batter between the liners - about three-quarters full.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
- To make the frosting, use an electric stand or handheld mixer and add the butter, powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla to the bowl.
- Beat on medium speed until creamy and smooth and stiff peaks form.
- Transfer 2 cups of frosting into a large piping bag fitted with a star tip. Set aside.
- Pour all of the different colored sprinkles into a bowl and stir to mix.
- Use a medium ice cream scoop to place a scoop of frosting on top of each cooled cupcake and use an angled spatula or knife to smooth and flatten slightly into a thick disc.
- Dip and roll the frosted cupcakes into the sprinkles to cover.
- Using the prepared frosting bag, pipe a swirl of frosting on top of the sprinkles layer.
- Place the ears on either side of the frosting swirl.
- Place a large flower in the center of the ears.
- Place two leaves behind the large flower and some smaller flowers in front and behind to create a floral headpiece (instead of Minnie's usual bow!).
- Enjoy and Have a Tropical Day!
*Use any shape/style of sprinkles that you like! You will need around 2 cups total of sprinkles.
Special Equipment Needed:
- Fondant Rolling Pin
- 1 (2"/5cm) Round Fondant/Cookie Cutter
- 1 Tropical Leaf Stencil
- Large Piping Bag
- 1 Open Star (#1M) Piping Tip
- 1 Medium Ice Cream Scoop
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- Food Coloring Marker Pens
- 24 Pack Tropical Stencils
- Wilton Mini Daisy Multi-Color Icing Decorations, 32-Count
- Wilton Royal Icing Decorations (12 Pack), 1", Multicolor Flowers
- Wilton Rainbow Jimmies Sprinkles Dessert Decorating Set, 8-Piece
- Wilton 402-2110 1M Open Star Piping Tip
- Disposable Piping Bags -100 Pack
- Wilton White Vanilla Decorator Preferred Fondant 4.4 oz
- Black Cupcake Liners
- Round Cutter Set, 12 Graduated Circle Cookie & Pastry Cutters,
- Fondant Rolling Pin
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 427Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 188mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 0gSugar: 33gProtein: 3g
This site uses Nutritionix to provide estimated nutrition. Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.
Make It A Meal!
You’ve made the dessert, but what about the rest of the courses?
Here are additional recipes to make a full meal for a dinner party or special occasion:
- Appetizer: Classic Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Glaze – An Easy Party Appetizer
- Main Dish: Grilled Pineapple and Swordfish Kebabs
- Side Dish: Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice
- Beverage: Frozen Miami Vice Cocktail – A Double Rum Cocktail!
There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy – please feel free to check them out too!