With Fourth of July being this Wednesday, I wanted to kick off the celebration with a fun Fourth of July recipe. If you’re still looking for menu ideas, I made some Red, White, and Blue Firecracker Cupcakes, which are festive vanilla cupcakes topped with pop rocks and striped vanilla buttercream frosting.
The original plan was to have a striped cupcake: red on top, white in the middle, and blue on bottom. As you can see, they didn’t come out that way. What baffles me is I did this technique before with my Halloween Candy Corn Cupcakes. Same recipe, same technique, different results. The only theory I have is I didn’t use real buttermilk, just the milk + vinegar substitution. I wonder if this is a case where using buttermilk is a must so the batter doesn’t run together.
I was actually debating on even posting these Red, White, and Blue Firecracker Cupcakes. I found the coloring to be too muddled. Well if anything, you can see how cool my frosting is. I got the idea from Heather of Farmgirl Gourmet when she posted her Red, White, and Blue Meringues. What you do is you take the red and streak one side of your piping bag. Take the blue and streak the opposite side of your piping bag. Fill it with the white buttercream, and the frosting comes out striped when you pipe it. Pretty cool, huh? Imagine all of the color possibilities!
Speaking about color, it is very critical you use food coloring gels instead of liquid food coloring most people use. In order to get the right shades of red and blue, you would need to add a good bit of the liquid coloring. This unfortunately changes the consistency and makes the batter runny. By using the gels, you can get the color you want with minimal coloring added plus the consistency stays the same.
So why are they called Firecracker Cupcakes? Because I added pop rocks for a bit of pop! Except pop rocks scare me. If you’ve never had them before, they are tiny bits of candy that have some kind of reaction when they are in your mouth and start crackling and popping in your mouth. They are harmless and supposed to be fun but they still scare me. I think I even dropped some on the floor because I felt popping when I was walking haha
I did some research on baking with pop rocks. A lot of people said if you baked the candy in the actual batter, they lose their popping-ness. Originally, I was going to cut a hole in the baked cupcakes and drop some in, but the cake was too sticky to cut. What I ended up doing was sprinkle of bunch on top in the middle then piped the buttercream on top. For final touches, I sprinkled on more pop rocks on top. If you’re like me and don’t enjoy the candy, leave them off.
Yields 12 cupcakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces or 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- Red and blue food gels (not liquid)
- 1 package (0.66 ounce) Pop Rocks
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Red and blue food gels (not liquid)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Beat in almond extract. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour and two of buttermilk, beating until smooth.
- Divide the batter into 3 parts, roughly 2/3 cup each part. Leave one untouched. For the second bowl, mix in red coloring. For the third bowl, mix in blue coloring. Layer the batter into each cup, starting with the blue, then white, then red.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove from the pan to cool completely.
- For the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and salt until smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat until creamy, 3-5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat for another minute.
- On one side of the inside of your piping bag, brush a streak of red coloring. On the other side of your bag, brush a streak of blue coloring. Scoop in all of the buttercream. Sprinkle pop rocks on top of each cupcake then pipe buttercream on top. Garnish with remaining pop rocks.
It is important to use food coloring gels and not liquid food coloring for this recipe.
Source: Adapted from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson