A dessert doesn’t have to be red, white and blue to be appropriate for a 4th of July celebration, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. You can add blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and other fruits to a dessert, or you can take a little more obvious route and opt for food coloring. To make a splash, this year I went with the latter route and baked some brightly colored Red, White and Blue Cupcakes!
These cupcakes are easy to make. Just mix up the batter, then divide it into thirds and add red food coloring to one portion, and blue to another. I did add a little bit of berry flavor by adding a tablespoon of cherry jam in with the red batter and a tablespoon or blueberry preserves in with the blue batter. The jam will enhance the color a bit, but it really serves to add a hint of berry flavor to the cupcakes. It’s the perfect thing to enhance a garnish of fresh berries on top of the cupcakes!
These cupcakes can be baked up a day in advance and stored in an airtight container before you are ready to frost and serve them. Use any kind of vanilla or cream cheese icing to emphasize the “white” part of the red, white and blue. You can even use some lightly sweetened whipped cream to top them off if you want to really pile on the berries. Now, there are all natural food colorings out there if you prefer to use them instead of the more conventional varieties. They’re pretty pricey, but worth it if you want that color splash for a holiday or other celebration.
Fourth of July Cupcakes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam (optional)
1 tbsp blueberry preserves (optional)
red food coloring
blue food coloring
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vegetable oil, melted butter and vanilla extract until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk just until batter is smooth. Take out two small bowls and place 3/4 cup batter into each one. Add 1 tbsp jam and red food coloring to first bowl and whisk to incorporate. Add 1 tbsp blueberry preserves and blue food coloring to second bowl and whisk to combine. Add additional food coloring (batter should be very brightly colored, use at least 15 drops of each color minimum) as needed until desired color is reached.
Divide red batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Divide blue batter evenly into muffin cups, centering it on top of the red batter (do not attempt to smooth it out!). Divide remaining white batter evenly (again, do not attempt to smooth it out!).
Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
6-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2-2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until well-combined. Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar until the mixture reaches a thick easy-to-spread consistency. If you prefer stiffer icing, add a little extra confectioners’ sugar.
Spread on cooled cupcakes.