Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rainbow Cupcakes

Rainbow Cupcakes!
The colors were most vibrant on the first cupcake.

It's my son's 10th birthday today, and I'm about to hit 1,000,000 page views here (woo hoo!), so I'm doing it up, making rainbow cupcakes to go with the chocolate cake with orange frosting and Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies that he requested. I've been wanting to make rainbow cupcakes for a while, and, sorry Ezra, this was the perfect opportunity. When mulling over how to frost the cupcakes, I played with all sorts of ideas in my head, but eventually decided to try out what I'd seen on Pinterest, from Chica & Joe. It involves painting the interior of a piping bag with gel food color, so I was sort of intimidated, but it was actually not as hard as I'd anticipated, and I love the results. 
Now, I need to finish up this post and clean up the front room for the company coming for chile colorado burritos in a few hours. 

Rainbow Cupcakes

  • 1 box white/vanilla cake mix, mixed according to package instructions
  • 3/4 teaspoon each yellow, orange, red, violet, blue, & green GEL food color (it must be gel)
  • 1 batch vanilla buttercream frosting (see recipe below)
Special Materials:
  • 24 white cupcake liners
  • 6 quart size zip top bags
  • 6 cups/mugs
  • piping bag
  • large star tip (I used Ateco #864)
  • piping bag coupler
  • clean paintbrush used only for food
Preheat oven according to package instructions.
Mix cake mix according to package instructions (or make some from scratch, if you'd like). Place open zip top bags into cups, folding the tops over a little bit so they stay open. Pour approximately equal amounts into each baggie. Add about 1/2 teaspoon gel food color to each color (each a different color, of course). Zip one baggie at a time and smoosh around until color is completely mixed in. If colors don't look vibrant enough for you, mix in more gel color.
Prepare cupcake pans with liners. Going in rainbow order, take one color at a time and snip 1/4 inch off one corner. Squeeze enough batter into bottom to just barely cover the bottom/previous layer. It will spread a little, and it's okay if some of the other color peeks through. (I like to start at the outside edge and circle my way in so that I can see all of the colors on the side through the paper after baking.) 
Bake according to package instructions. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes and then take cupcakes out to finish cooling on a wire rack.
When cupcakes are completely cool, they're ready to frost.

This method/idea comes from Chica & Joe. Brilliant.
Get your piping bag ready with the tip and place in a cup that will support it. Squeeze about a 1/4 teaspoon size blob of each gel color onto a clean plate. Remember which order you squeezed them in if that matters to you. If you're using the Wilton gel color that is not in a squeezable container as Americolor is, I suppose you can just stick the paintbrush into the container.) One color at a time, and rinsing and completely drying brush between colors, paint on a stripe of food color from the coupler up the side of the piping bag, as high as you expect to fill the bag. (I only went halfway up. See Chica & Joe for some great detailed photos.)  Repeat with each color, being careful to use appropriate spacing. Remember you have 6 colors. 
Carefully spoon the buttercream into the bag, making sure to leave enough room to twist the end closed. After twisting the top closed, squeeze a little frosting onto a plate to get started. Then frost cupcakes. Color will probably fade as you go on, but will still look pretty.
*Note: I filled one bag and it frosted 6 cupcakes and a mini cake. You might have to go through the process twice or more if you're frosting 24 cupcakes. I'll try it out someday and let you know, but for now, I only did a few.
Cups holding colored batter in baggies
These were filled to within 1/4 in of the rim.
I think they're cute just like this.

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/3 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and shortening. Beat in the sugar, vanilla, salt, and 1/4 cup milk. Add a little more milk, a teaspoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If you go overboard with the milk, beat in more powdered sugar. Cover with plastic wrap if you won't be using it immediately.

Ezra's birthday cake.

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