A few months back I made a Hawaiian themed bridal shower cake and I did learn a few things from that experience.
Lesson #1 - For the mock “sand” it is better to use crushed cookies and not raw sugar. I used sugar the first time and made a huge mess. The grains just wouldn’t stick to the butter cream icing and kept falling off in damp hunks.
Lesson #2 - Dye the icing that goes under the sand a light brown in color. If you leave it white, it shows through the “sand”. I know you think I’m one dumb decorator (cake wrecks here I come), but honestly I didn’t think to dye the icing the first time around. I thought the “sand” would be thick enough to cover all the white icing.
Lesson #3 - Press the crumbled cookies into the icing as soon as you spread it. If you wait too long the buttercream starts to crust and the “sand” won’t stick.
Lesson #4 - When dyeing the water, don’t mix it too much. Stir the icing until it is a swirl of blue and white. This way when you spread the “water” on the cupcakes, you have built in, natural looking white caps.
Happy Birthday, Amanda! I hope you like your cupcakes.