Friday, July 1, 2011

Bake like an American

Independence Day means cookouts, barbecues and pot lucks.  So uh...what are YOU gonna bring?

Hot dogs, potato salad, corn on the cob -- all deliciously necessary for a 4th of July party, but all predictable.  So this year, why not show up with a few cupcakes that will blow everyone's patriotic socks off?  Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

Red White and Blue Cupcakes 

Here's what you'll need for the cupcakes:
Your favorite red velvet cake recipe (halved -- just enough for 6 cupcakes)
Your favorite white cake recipe (halved -- just enough for 6 cupcakes)
1/4 c. blueberries
1 drop blue food coloring

When you've got both batters ready, take your white cake batter and separate it half into two bowls.

Take your blueberries and put them in a food processor until they're in liquid form. Add those blueberries and a drop of blue food coloring to one of the bowls of white cake batter -- mix until smooth.

Line a cupcake tray with 12 baking cups and start with your red velvet mix, putting no more than 1 tablespoon of batter in to each cup and smoothing it out until it's level.  Then layer the same amount of your white cake on top of that, then you're blueberry cake on top of that (the blueberry cake should be runnier than the other two batters, so it will need to go on top and will be easier to spread).

Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

As it bakes, you can get started on your buttercream.  Here's what you'll need:
1.5 sticks of butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1.5 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 container of Cool Whip

Cream your butter on medium speed and gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 c. at a time. Add your vanilla and a few spoonfuls of Cool Whip.  Then, continue mixing on medium speed, alternating 1/4 c. of powdered sugar with small spoonfuls of Cool Whip until you've added the remaining 2 cups of sugar.

When your cupcakes are cool, line your piping bag (or a Ziplock bag with a hole cut in the bottom corner) with one line of blue food coloring and one line of red food coloring. Fill your piping bag with your (what should be) white frosting and ice your cupcakes!

Delicious AND festive, these multi-dimensional cupcakes are a great addition to any party.  But if you're looking for a more classic approach, give these a try!

Apple Pie Cupcakes

Here's what you'll need for the cupcakes:
Your favorite yellow cake recipe (for 12 cupcakes)
3-4 tsp. cinnamon
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
1 stick of butter, chilled
2-3 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tbs. brown sugar (reserved)

Mix about 3/4 tsp in to your favorite yellow cake batter until smooth.  Fill 12 cupcake cups and bake for 18-20 minutes at 350.

While they're baking, you can get started on your filling. Take a small, oven safe dish (I used a 6" cake pan) and cover the bottom with apple slices, then sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar and thin slices of butter -- just like you do with an Apple Pie.  Repeat these layers three times and cover the dish with aluminum foil riddled with holes. Set aside.

When your cupcakes have finished baking, remove them and increase the temperature of the oven to 375.  As it's heating, you can get started on your pie-crust garnish.  
Here's what you'll need:
3/4 c. flour
1-2 heaping tbs. of crisco
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 c. cold water

Mix 1/2 c. of flour and the next three ingredients in a medium bowl -- you can use your hands to do this as long as you're okay with them getting messy! Mush and kneed until the crisco is well mixed with the flour and the two begin to form small balls. Then add the water and continue to mix in to a ball. Put your final 1/4 c. of flour on a sheet of wax paper and kneed in to a ball, then use a rolling pin to flatten.  Next, take a star-shaped cookie cutter and cut 12 stars out of the dough.

Place the stars on a cookie sheet and place them and  the apple dish in to the oven. Allow your apples to cook for 25-30 minutes, but remove your stars after about 10 (or when golden brown).

When your apples are finished, place them in a food processor and add 1 tbs. of brown sugar. Pulse 4-5 times until the apples are chopped, but still maintain their integrity. Core your cinnamon cupcakes and fill the centers with the apple mixture. 

 Frost them with vanilla bean buttercream and garnish with your pie dough stars. Nothing's more American that a delicious apple pie! 

Either of these patriotic cupcakes are sure to be a hit at your holiday gathering.  If you give them a try, stop back and let me know how it went!

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