Football Cupcakes

Vanilla football cupcakes with strawberry rhubarb cream

I made these a few weeks ago for my brother-in-law’s birthday.  My brother-in-law loves both football and strawberry rhubarb so I thought I might try and combine them in one place.  And since last year he got a watery mess of a strawberry rhubarb pie, I thought that place should be cake.

My brother-in-law is a good guy, a wonderful husband to my sister and an even better dad.  A few weeks before, we were at a family event at my house, and my nephew, who is potty training, had a bit of an accident while sitting on my brother-in-law’s lap.  The result: it looked like my BIL had wet his pants.  He just took it in stride while I was laughing my head off.

Don’t worry, I got mine a few hours later when my nephew peed on my couch.   Too much excitement for the day.

These cupcakes seem like a lot of steps, but really, because we are using a box mix and Cool Whip, there isn’t too much too them.  The jam is the hardest part and it is easy enough to sub in store bought jam.  But if you have the extra time and patience, making your own is well worth it.


  • 1 vanilla cake mix of your choosing
  • ingredients required to complete the cake (eggs, oil, water)

Mix up cake batter as directed on the box.  Pour into cupcake papers and bake as directed.  Allow to cool completely.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam adapted from Food In Jars

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1 pound frozen rhubarb, thawed
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

In a large bowl, mix together strawberries, thawed rhubarb and sugar.  Allow to macerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.  In a large, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat pour in strawberry-rhubarb mixture.  Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the pan.  Cook jam, stirring constantly for about 25 minutes.  The fruit will break down and the jam will thicken.  The jam is done cooking when it becomes very thick and when you scrape your spoon across the pan and it makes a sizzling sound.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla extract.

At this point, you can waterbath can the jam for 10 minutes or you can put it in a jar and stick it in the fridge for a few weeks.  This recipe makes more jam than needed for the cream, but it tastes so good on toast it won’t hang out long.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip
  • 1/2 cup strawberry rhubarb jam

Fold the jam into the Cool Whip.  1/2 cup of jam give a fairly subtle strawberry rhubarb flavor when piped into the cupcake.  For more pop, add more jam.  To fill the cupcakes, I used this tip.  However, if you do not have this tip, simply use a paring knife to cut a small shallow circle in the top of the cupcake and spoon the cream in the top.  Pipe frosting over the hole filled with cream.

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt (use regular table salt if you are going to be piping the grass with a Wilton #233 tip
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Green gel food coloring (I used a combination of Wilton Kelly green and Leaf green)
On high speed, beat butter until smooth, light, and fluffy.  Add in salt and vanilla.  Beat to combine.  Lower the mixer speed and gradually add in the powdered sugar and beat until combined.  While you are beating in the sugar, the frosting will be getting thick.  Add in water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin it just a bit.  In order to have grass that stands up straight, you want a fairly thick icing.  If you thin it too much, the grass blades will flop over.  Add food coloring as desired.  Remember that liquid food coloring will thin your icing even further.  Use Wilton tip #233 to pipe grass on cupcakes.

Footballs and Goal Posts

  • 1/2 package milk chocolate Candy Melts
  • 1/2 package white chocolate Candy Melts

To make the footballs:  Pour milk chocolate Candy Melts into a heatproof bowl.  Microwave candy for 20 second intervals, stirring the candy between each interval.  I find it easiest to pipe the chocolate when it is a bit thicker so don’t melt the candy too much.  If it is too hot, it becomes too runny and you will have a much harder time piping.  Prepare a piping bag with a Wilton #3 tip and fill with milk chocolate.  Pipe football shaped candies onto a sheet of wax paper.  Allow to dry.  I allowed mine to dry overnight, but probably you only need to wait about an hour.

To make the goalposts:  Melt white chocolate in the same way you  melted the milk chocolate.  Prepare a piping bag with a coupler and a Wilton #1 piping tip.  Pipe details on dry chocolate footballs.  Change tip to Wilton #3 and pipe goal posts onto wax paper.  Allow to dry.  Decorate cupcakes with footballs and goalposts.

You can probably do this piping step without having any piping bags and tips if you use a Ziplock bag and cut a very small hole.  I, however, did not try this so I cannot verify for you. To make things even simpler, you could also use these candies instead of piping your own footballs.

Vanilla football cupcakes with strawberry rhubarb cream