Hamburger Cupcakes

Cupcakes appeal to me for a variety of reasons — they are petite individual desserts, don’t require a plate and fork to eat, have a high icing to cake ratio and there is almost an infinite number of ways to decorate the wee things.  From a simple smear of buttercream, to elegantly piped designs, to cupcakes that look like Cookie Monster to these darling Hamburger cupcakes.  With such scope for innovation and creativity, it’s no wonder that cupcakes are so popular.

I wish I could say I thought up the idea to make these ingenious cupcakes — but alas, I did not.  I saw them on Bakerella and I knew immediately that I had to try them myself.  They’re the perfect edible trompe l’oeil — the round of brownie sandwiched between the two halves of cupcake and covered with the brightly coloured icing makes for a very convincing burger! If you want, you can also serve these “burgers” with sugar cookie “fries” (seriously… check out the Bakerella link.  She is incredible).

Bakerella used mixes to create her awesome cupcakes, but I decided since I had lots of time in my post-exam holiday I would make the brownies and cupcakes from scratch.  The brownie recipe is one of Alton Brownies and is a decadent fudgey brownie that would be fantastic on it’s own as well.  For the cupcakes, I used the Vanilla Cupcake recipe from Joy of Baking.  It’s a good basic recipe (although I think I still prefer Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake) that’s easy to whip together and yields only 12 cupcakes — good if you don’t want to be wondering what to do with a bajillion cupcakes.

The assembly was a little time consuming, but the end result is worth it.  The expressions on my friends’ faces were priceless, changing from bemusement to amazement as they realised what I had just presented them with.  I would recommend using gel food colouring if you have it – it won’t thin the icing and will allow you to get those really bright colours.  Also, the sesame seeds are a nice touch.  Not strictly necessary, but they really help complete it.

As an aside, tomorrow I start my summer job in the lab tomorrow. Woo!
So, without further ado… Hamburger Cupcakes!

Hamburger Cupcakes


  • one 7″x11″ pan of brownies (I used a recipe adapted from Alton Brown)
  • 12 vanilla cupcakes, cupcake liners removed (I used a recipe adapted from
  • 1 batch of vanilla buttercream (recipe below)
  • red, green and yellow food colouring (preferably gel)
  • sesame seeds
  • small glass of water
  • baking parchment
  • 2″ round cookie cutter


  1. Cut out 8-12 brownie rounds of brownies using the 2″ cutter.  Depending on the thickness of your brownies, you may need to cut them in half. Ie. You’ll need fewer rounds of brownie.  If you’re brownies are thin to begin with, you may need to cut out all 12 rounds. Set aside.
  2. Divide the icing into 3 small bowls.  Colour the icing with the food colouring so you have a bowl of yellow icing (your mustard), a bowl of red icing (your ketchup), and a bowl of green icing (your relish/lettuce).
  3. To make disposable piping bags, you can either use plastic sandwich bags and cut one of the corners, or you can make your own using greaseproof paper.  Instructions on making these can be found here.  Make three disposable piping bags and fill with each colour of icing.
  4. Cut each cupcake in half, using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion. Set aside.
  5. Pick up the first cup cake and place a small dab of icing on the lower half.  Place a round of brownie on top (the icing will help “glue” the brownie to the bottom of the cupcake).  Now for the “condiments”.  Pipe a squiggly circle of red icing, followed by a circle of yellow icing and green icing.  Gently place the top half of the cupcake on top of the brownie and press down lightly.
  6. Repeat for the other 11 cupcakes.
  7. Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack over a baking tray — this will be a messy part. Dip your fingers into the glass of water and lightly pat the surface of a cupcake.  Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top to complete your Hamburger Cupcake.  The little bit of water should make the seeds stick.  Repeat with the other 11 cupcakes.

And there you have it! Hamburger cupcakes. :) Enjoy!

Buttercream Icing


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Beat the butter and vanilla with an electric mixer.  Gradually add in the icing sugar.  When it gets to thick, add the milk a tablespoon at a time.
  2. Once all ingredients are incorporated, beat until light and fluffy.  The icing should be easily spreadable but not runny.  Add more milk/icing sugar as required.

Note: I found this recipe yielded just enough icing.  However, if you want to use your own recipe or increase the amounts, go for it!

Icing + left over brownies = brownie truffles

Just a sneak peak at what I did with all those left over brownies… Brownie Truffles