We Try It: Sharknado Cupcakes!

With my sea creature-loving son turning six earlier this month, I had to show him the recipe I’d stumbled upon in my Pinterest travels: Sharknado Cupcakes. He laughed, and immediately requested that I make them for his classroom treat.

Neither of us have seen Sharknado, but my son found the idea of sharks inside a tornado and also on cake hilarious. “But wouldn’t it be a hurricane, if they came from water?” he asked. “A sharkicane?”

Touché, my dear boy, but I’m not sure Syfy producers were considering that level of, uh, accuracy  for their windy sharks Z-movie.

The instructions were more like assembly suggestions, rather than a full-on recipe, which I appreciated. I’m not much of a baker; I don’t have the patience for it. All those sticky ingredients and precise measurements make me not want to bother, but these cupcakes only involved two more steps more than what I’d have done anyway.

Because the boy has a sensitivity to red dye — it makes him 6-espresso-shots levels of squirrelly — he was extra excited to try these, since the blue gummy sharks found in those 2/$1 bags at gas stations were okay for him to eat. The cotton candy — found at the dollar store, where food that probably no one should eat awaits us all — had a mixture of colors, so as long as he avoided the fluffy pink cupcakes, he would be fine.

You’ll Need:

  • [icon name=”icon-bullseye”] 1 box of vanilla cake mix + the additionally required ingredients listed on the box
  • [icon name=”icon-bullseye”] 1 container whipped vanilla frosting
  • [icon name=”icon-bullseye”] 24 gummy sharks (about 1 ½ of the aforementioned 2/$1 bags)
  • [icon name=”icon-bullseye”] 1 (1 oz.) bag cotton candy (i.e. Charms Fluffy Stuff), unless you’re extra-motivated and have access to the fresh stuff

1 box of cake mix is usually enough to make 24 cupcakes, and I picked the whipped frosting because it seemed to go with the airy theme. You could use any flavor you wanted for either the cake or the frosting, but with the added sugar from the toppings, the milder taste of vanilla felt appropriate.

After making the cupcakes according to package directions, let them cool, then apply the frosting. You don’t need a ton, but enough to make sure both the shark and the cotton candy stick to the top.

How you arrange the shark and cotton candy is down to your artsy baking skills. Me? I’m not so skilled, so my attempts ended up looking more like a shark tsunami (sharknami?), especially when using the blue cotton candy.

You won’t use the whole 1 ounce bag, so you’ll be better able to fend off any scavenging children watching you make the cupcakes.

Sharknado Cupcake
(photo by Tyson Habein)

The end result turned out pretty great, with one caveat — the cotton candy had somewhat dissolved by the next afternoon, leaving our shark stranded on what was more like a sugar-crusted beach. Still, these were six year olds, and like they cared what the treat looked like, so as long as they were allowed to shove it in their mouth. If you care about the visuals, you’ll probably be better off baking them the day you plan on eating them, or at least adding the toppings right beforehand.

Sure, you could be extra fancy and make all this from scratch, but I loved being able to make a decorated treat that seemed like a lot of effort, yet really wasn’t. The Sharknado theme amused me, and the kids enjoyed the cupcakes, even if they had no idea what movie they referenced. For someone who doesn’t enjoy baking, I’m counting this attempt as a win.

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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