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In Hello, Cupcake, the authors start with basic cake mixes and frostings, and then the fun begins. Using easy-to-find candies, they show you how to make everything from insects to sunflowers. We, of course, were charmed by their “Pup Cakes,” which include 11 dog breeds; we selected the Chocolate Lab.
At the dog park, you know all the dogs but none of the owners’ names. Stir up a batch of cupcakes for the humans, and another for the dogs (try the “Mutt Cups” ), and invite everyone to a dog party. You’ll make new friends and may snag a few doggie play-dates too.
For the Chocolate Lab, start with vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners. You’ll also need vanilla and dark chocolate frosting, as well as black food coloring. Multiply the ingredients by the number of cupcakes you plan to make.
IMPORTANT: THESE ARE FOR HUMANS ONLY. CHOCOLATE CAN BE LETHAL FOR DOGS.
Spread the top of the cupcake with a thin layer of dark chocolate frosting. Arrange the three mini-marshmallows in triangle on the lower third of the cupcake. Spread a thick layer of dark chocolate frosting over the marshmallows to cover.
Place the one-half piece of the circus peanut directly under the frosted marshmallows to make the tongue. Pipe lines of dark chocolate frosting around the tongue to cover slightly. With the black frosting (made by adding black food coloring to the dark chocolate frosting), pipe two curved lines to define the upper part of the mouth.
Press the jelly bean halves into the frosting to make the eyes, and add the whole jelly bean on its side for the nose. Pipe a small white highlight on each eye. Fold the top end of the taffy ears under and arrange on either side of the cupcake.
From Hello, Cupcake! Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make  by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. Copyright © 2008 by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Photography by Alan Richardson