Whenever I bake a cake or cupcakes, it's not unusual for me to have a little bit of buttercream left over - since I'd rather make too much than too little and then run out partway through a project... So I scrape all those leftover bits into labeled freezer bags and freeze them for another day. When I noticed that my buttercream collection was taking up a little too much room in our freezer, I thawed out all those little bags, some with only enough for 1-2 cupcakes, and thought about what to do with it all.
I decided to use it as an opportunity to play around with a few different piping tips, and experiment with different "rose" designs. Which was fitting since, after all, I had at my hands a potpourri of buttercream flavors and colors, and I thought all the different shades would look really pretty piped into different rose designs. And for my "rose garden" of cupcakes, I even made little signs out of toothpicks and craft paper, so everyone at work would know what flavor each one was.
Realistic Buttercream Rose
First, there's the most natural looking rose, which you see in the photo above, piped in pink buttercream. This can only be achieved with a rose tip, where one end is wider than the other. Wilton #103 or 104 are a good size to start practicing with; 102 and 101 are pretty small and a little more difficult to use. Or, for a huge rose, you could try using # 125, which I have, but have never used yet. I used #103 for the one in this photo.
I learned the technique in a cake decorating class last summer, and as it was extremely helpful to watch the teacher demonstrate it over and over, I would recommend watching some video demonstrations online if this is a technique you'd like to learn. The consistency of the buttercream for this type of rose is important, as it can't be too soft or it won't hold its shape, or too firm and the petals will look dry. Practice, practice, practice!
The swirl rose is so easy, and very pretty. I piped this style of rose onto many of the cupcakes pictured here, including the red peppermint and brown chocolate roses. A large open star tip quickly achieves this look. I tried a few, but Wilton # 1M was my favorite, and what I used in these photos. Instead of starting at the outside of the cupcake and piping towards the middle as is typical for piping buttercream onto cupcakes (such as you might have done with the large, closed drop flower tip #2D), you start in the middle and pipe around to the edge, letting the buttercream fall onto the cake in one smooth motion.
Many types of rosettes can be piped with small to medium star tips (#16-22 for a few options), as you see in the cappuccino and cream colored buttercreams pictured. Using a medium star tip, I tried the swirl rose technique with the cappuccino buttercream, although I didn't think the result was quite as pretty as with the large star tip. You can even pipe lots of small or medium rosettes all over (a technique I really like for covering whole cakes as shown in my Orange Dreamsicle Cake, Pink Ombre Cake, and Mocha Rum Cake).
For Valentines, these would be so beautiful in ombre shades of white, pink and red!