Happy (almost) birthday, America! I made you something…
Pretty, isn’t it?
There are so many 4th of July things to be found on Pinterest these days (obvi). I had a tough time deciding which to make for the upcoming holiday. Ultimately, I wanted to do these, because they’re really beautiful and also because it’s something I’ve never done before. If you’re intimidated by the swirled frosting, don’t be. It looks way more complicated than it actually is.
The actual cupcake part is pretty plain: it’s just a vanilla cake. If you really wanted to do it the easy way, you could totally use your favorite box cake mix(light-colored, of course. Chocolate obviously would be a bad idea if you wanted to make them red, white, and blue).
The frosting is pretty basic as well, but that’s an easy fix. Almond, lemon, or even peppermint extracts would all be lovely additions to this recipe, I think. Whatever you add, just make sure it’s clear or it will change the color of your frosting.
Also, make sure not to over-bake the cupcakes. Not that I did that or anything. I’m just saying. Don’t do it.
Fourth of July Cupcakes
recipe adapted from RecipeGirl
makes 24 cupcakes
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons clear vanilla
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
red and blue gel paste (works better than food coloring- the colors are more vibrant and it won’t make your batter/frosting runny. Can be found online or in many craft stores.)
2 cups butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons clear vanilla
2 tablespoons milk or whipping cream
To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcakes tins with liners and set aside.
With an electric or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
On low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down sides of the bowl and mix again until blended.
Split the batter evenly into 3 bowls. Into one bowl, add red gel paste a little at a time until you achieve the desired color. Repeat with the blue in another bowl. (The third bowl will remain white, of course.)
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners- you will use about a tablespoon of each color. Use a toothpick to swirl the colors around a bit, if desired. (You can also stack the colors if you’d like, blue on the bottom, white on top of that, and red on the very top.)
Bake for 16-20 minutes or until the tops feel springy and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a cupcake. Let cool for a few minutes in the pans, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the frosting: In an electric or stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the speed to low and add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Once all the sugar is added, increase the speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes (mixture will be very thick).
Add the vanilla and the milk or cream and beat on medium speed for 1 more minute. If the mixture is still too thick, add more milk/cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. If it gets too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.
Here’s where it gets fun…
Like you did with the cupcake batter, separate the frosting into 3 bowls and add the desired amount of coloring to each bowl. You will need 4 piping bags for this trick (or 4 large Ziploc bags, if you don’t have piping bags). Place each color of frosting into its own piping bag and place on the counter next to each other. Snip off about 1/2 inch from the bottom of each bag. Place the 3 bags into the fourth bag, which has been fitted with whatever tip you want to use (or, if using a Ziploc, place all the bags into the larger bag and snip off a little from the large bag).
Or, if you’d like a simpler way to do it and don’t mind the colors blending a little, just place all the colors into one piping bag, side by side, rather than one on top of the other.
Swirl onto the cooled cupcakes and amaze your friends and family!
Confused? Here’s a good video tutorial for you (this is the “one-bag” trick):
…and here’s another good one for you (this is the one I used to help me) from GoodLife Eats.