2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 package marshmallow cream
3-4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
4 teaspoons solid vegetable shortening
Decorating Icing in Green & Red
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 stick butter
3 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
splash of milk
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare cupcake tins with reusable cupcake liners.
Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for an additional minute to add air to the batter.
Distribute cake batter into cupcake liners. Bake for 25+ minutes (until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean).
Remove from the oven and allow to cool, remove from the pan and cool completely.
Now we'll start with the fondant, all you'll need to do is fold the confectioners sugar into the marshmallow cream, about one cup at a time.
Once they are fairly well blended, add in shortening and decorating icing (for color) and start to knead with your hands like you would a dough. Continue to knead until thoroughly mixed, adding more decorating icing as needed for color.
Wrap colored fondant in plastic wrap and place to the side for at least 5 hours. If you want, you can leave the fondant out overnight, if you have extra time this is actually your best bet.
When the fondant is ready, begin to shape each cactus. This was really, truly a trial-and-error process... but my tip to you is to roll everything into a ball and shape it from there. Looking to form a short stubby cactus? Just roll a bit of green fondant into a ball and then shape into a cactus. Wanting to make succulents? Make a BUNCH of tiny balls and flatten in between your fingers to form a leaf like shape. I'm no fondant expert but I think over-all that if I can make these, anyone can!