Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rainbow Cupcakes!

These adorable cupcakes have been in my repertoire of baked goods for about three years now. The physicist loves them and they are ALWAYS a crowd-pleaser! I mean, how could they not be?! They are so fun and incredibly enjoyable to bake and decorate! Made with a box of cake mix and food dye, they also couldn't be much easier to pull off. 

1 box White Cake Mix
3 Eggs
1c Water
1/3 Oil (or Applesauce*)
Liquid Food Coloring

For the Icing
3.5c Powdered Sugar
1/2c Softened Butter
1tsp Vanilla
1/4c Milk

..or use a pre-made package of icing

OVEN: 350F
BAKE: 18-20min

1. Make your cake according to the directions on the box. I used applesauce in my cupcakes instead of oil and I'm not sure if I would recommend it for these type of cupcakes. The colors came out fine but the batter wasn't as runny as it normally is with oil which made it a little more difficult to get the batter to spread while layering them into the cupcake liners. 

2. Separate the batter equally into six smaller bowls or cups and then add the dye. These are the amounts that I use for mine:

Red: 8 drops
Orange: 5 yellow drops, 3 red drops
Yellow: 6 drops
Green: 6 drops
Blue: 7 drops
Purple: 3 red drops, 5 blue drops

3. After the colors are well mixed in, layer the batter into the cupcakes one color at a time. I like to start with purple and then layer on the blue, green, etc. but you could certainly start with red and move down the rainbow. You might need to shake the cupcake tray a little bit to ensure even distribution. It doesn't have to be perfect, the colors will bake up in layers pretty well no matter what. 

4. Pop them in the oven. I can normally tell that they're done when the red layer on the top is just beginning to brown. Place the cupcakes on a cooling rack and let them cool completely before icing. And really, if truth be told, if you use applesauce in the batter these cupcakes are so moist and pretty already they don't even really need icing. 

But what am I saying, of course they need icing!

I'm going to let you in on a little secret--this is legitimately the first time I've ever made my own icing for basically anything. I have this weird issue with using a ton of ingredients when I bake. I see 3.5 cups of powdered sugar and am kind of aghast. It's the same reason I've never made an angel food cake.. I just can't see myself using six egg whites for one cake.

However, my weirdness aside, I'll never buy store-bought icing again. Never ever. This icing is EASY and delicious! I got the recipe from this recipe at Gingerbread Bagels and didn't change a thing because I'm new to this whole self-made icing thing.

5. In a standing mixer, cream the softened butter for three minutes on medium speed.

6. Add in the vanilla and a pinch of salt

7. On a lower speed, alternate pouring in the milk and powdered sugar until it's all added. Next scrape down the sides of the bowl really well and then pick up the speed to medium-high for five minutes.

And that's it. It comes out like this:

8. Put the icing in a piping bag topped with the icing top of your choice and pipe away!

I loved the way these turned out. As I've said before, I'm not a big cupcake person, but this recipe reminded me just how much fun I have baking and decorating. I encourage you to try this one out. They look quite impressive without very much effort!

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