Super Mario fan in the house? Then these Piranha Plant Cupcakes are the dessert you need to make! Using red velvet cupcakes with green frosting, you then add a fondant Piranha Plant on top. Just make sure you chomp the plant before it chomps you! It’sa Mario Time!
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Piranha Plant 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 and ensure that you have all the ingredients and equipment required and understand the steps and timings involved.
Many years ago now, I threw a Nintendo Themed Birthday Party for my son’s 13th, and I wish I had made these cupcakes as they would have been so much fun to serve!
Everyone who has ever played a Mario game on a Nintendo console will know those sharp-toothed piranha plants all too well! And those pesky plants that creep out of the green pipes to attach Mario are the inspiration for these awesome cupcakes!
BUT WAIT! You could use these cupcakes for other themes like at Halloween as “Monster Plant Cupcakes” or as “Audrey II Cupcakes” from The Little Shop of Horrors!
The cupcakes are red velvet from a box mix, but you could use any flavor that you prefer. The piranha plants are made using fondant, which might look tricky, but it’s not as difficult as you might think.
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!
The post is part of the Crafty October series on The Purple Pumpkin Blog is filled with free printables, crafts, recipes, and more for Halloween! You can check out Crafty October from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 for tons of awesome Halloween ideas and inspiration!
Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe
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. Standard ingredients such as flour or sugar are not listed, as you are likely to have those in your kitchen. The full list with measurements is found in the recipe card.
Cupcakes & Frosting Ingredients
- Box of Red Velvet Cake Mix – plus the ingredients to make the cake mix, usually eggs, oil, and water.
- 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.
- Wilton Fondant – these come in 4.4oz packages and just the right size for these cupcakes, but you can use any brand you like.
- Green Food Coloring Gel
Cupcake Decorating Equipment
- Round Cookie Cutter – to cut out the Piranha Plant you will need a 3″/7.5cm 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
- Large Leaf Tip
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.,).
Piranha Plant Cupcakes Recipe Tips
The piranha plants that decorate these cupcakes are made with fondant (also known as sugarpaste).
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 Piranha Plants: Pour a little pile of powdered sugar onto your surface and dip the cookie cutter into it before cutting the piranha plant shape – 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, follow the package instructions to make them.
- 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.
- The frosting is colored using food coloring. Remember that you can always add more color, but not take it away. Add a little to start with and add more to get the shade required.
- FOOD COLORING! Food coloring is available in various forms. You’re most likely to find liquid coloring in your grocery store, and other types of coloring like gels, pastes, and powders in more specialised cake decorating shops. The cheapest option is liquids, but they can alter the consistency of your frosting and cake batter, so I prefer to use pastes or gels which don’t. A little goes a long way with food coloring gels and you can usually get a much deeper shade than you would with liquids.
- Use a piping bag fitted with a large star tip to pipe the swirl on top of the cupcake.
- Use a piping bag fitted with a large leaf tip to pipe leaves around the base of the piranha plant.
- 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 Party Cupcake Recipes
Looking for more themed cupcakes to make? Check these recipes out next:
- Make These Tropical Fish Cupcakes For An Under The Sea Party!
- Pearl Oyster Cupcakes for Mermaid Parties!
- Starman Cupcakes – Nintendo Party
How Do I Make Piranha Plant 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 Pirahna Plants
- Cornstarch (cornflour), for dusting
- 1 (4.4oz) package of Red Fondant
- 1 (4.4oz) package of White Fondant
For the Cupcakes
- 1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix + ingredients to make them
For the Frosting
- 3 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 6 cups powdered sugar (icing sugar)
- 5-7 Tbsp heavy whipping cream (double cream)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Green Food Coloring Gel
- 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 red fondant in your hands to make it soft and pliable and roll to ¼"/0.5cm thick.
- Using a 3"/7.5cm round cookie cutter, cut out 12 red circles.
- Use a sharp knife to cut a triangle notch on one side of the circles to create a mouth.
- Place the red circles onto the prepared cookie sheet.
- Knead the white fondant in your hands to make it soft and pliable and roll to ¼"/0.5cm thick.
- Use the end of a large round piping tip to make the spots for the plant - they should be around ½"/1cm wide. You will need 5-7 spots per plant, so cut out as many as you like and set aside.
- Use a sharp knife to cut 12 (4"/5cm) long strips of white fondant approximately ½"/1cm wide, Carefully cut away triangle notches to create sharp teeth for the plant. Then cut each long strip in half to create two rows of teeth per plant.
- To add the fondant teeth to the plant, dab a clean paintbrush (or use your finger) with water and run it along the edge of the mouth to stick the bottom row of teeth in place (you may have to cut to fit). Wait a few moments before repeating the process for the top row of teeth.
- Flip the piranha plants over and stick the white spots to the red fondant using a dab of water as before.
- Knead some more white fondant in your hands to make it soft and pliable and roll to ¼"/0.5cm thick.
- Use a sharp knife to cut out 12 strips approximately ⅛"/0.3cm wide and 3½"/9cm long.
- Using a dab of water, apply to the back of one of the strips and outline the mouth of each plant.
- Place all of the piranha plants on the cookie sheet to dry overnight or for 24 hours if possible.
TIP! Always make extra fondant decorations as backup!
- Prepare the cupcakes as directed on the package instructions. the food coloring until well combined.
- Use an ice cream scoop to evenly fill the cupcake liners to about 3/4 full.
- Bake for as long as instructed 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.
- Add green food coloring gel to the frosting and mix until well combined and you reach the desired shade. Remember you can always add more coloring, but not take it away!
- Place ¼ cup of frosting into a medium piping bag fitted with a large leaf tip and set it aside.
- Place the remaining frosting into a large piping bag fitted with a large open star tip.
- Pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cupcake.
- Carefully place the dried piranha plant decoration into the center of the frosting.
- Using the piping bag fitted with the leaf tip, pipe leaves around the base of the plant.
- Serve and Enjoy!
Special Equipment Needed:
- Fondant Rolling Pin
- 1 (3"/7.5cm) Round Fondant/Cookie Cutter
- 2 Large Piping Bags
- 1 Open Star (#1M) Piping Tip
- 1 Large Leaf Tip
- 1 Medium Ice Cream Scoop
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Duncan Hines Signature Cake Mix, Red Velvet, 15.25 oz
- Black Cupcake Liners
- Leaf Piping Tips 5PCS
- Wilton 402-2110 1M Open Star Piping Tip
- Disposable Piping Bags -100 Pack
- Wilton White Vanilla Decorator Preferred Fondant 4.4 oz
- Wilton Red Decorator Preferred Fondant 4.4 oz.
- Round Cutter Set, 12 Graduated Circle Cookie & Pastry Cutters,
- Fondant Rolling Pin
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 411Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 23mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 0gSugar: 31gProtein: 1g
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.
I threw a Nintendo party for my son’s 13th birthday many years ago, and here are recipes for the food I prepared for the party:
- Nintendo Piranha Plant & Super Mushroom Salad!
- Barbeque Cucco Wings – Nintendo Party
- Delfino Nachos and 1-Up Dip – Nintendo Party
- Kirby Korn Dogs – Nintendo Party
- Starman Cupcakes – Nintendo Party
- Diddy Kong Peanut Shooter Dip
- Super Mushroom and 1-Up Mushroom Marshmallow Pops
- Mini Starman Cakes
There are 500+ Recipes on The Purple Pumpkin Blog for you to enjoy – please feel free to check them out too!