Sorry the posts have been so sparse recently! I’ve been BEYOND busy this past week, mainly working and dealing with subsequent drama. Nothing to worry your pretty little heads over, I assure you.
I actually had a really hard time pulling together this recipe and writing this post. With the 4th of July coming up, I felt a little obligated (okay, a LOT obligated) to come up with a recipe that would be festive and apropos. But the truth is, I’m not a big fan of the 4th. I’m not a big fan of summer holidays in general — okay, I’m not a big fan of summer in general — because summer tends to be the time when all the sucky life things, things that I could hide from during the school year, become unavoidable and consequently come to a head.
Usually an ugly head.
So as I sat down and tried to come up with a cheery and celebratory Independence Day concoction, I thought back to my past few 4th’s in search of inspiration. One was spent trying to placate my parents in the wake of my brother’s coming out. Another saw me campaigning for a local representative whose policies I now understand to be bigoted and discriminatory. Yet another had me vacationing with my good friend Chelsea, a friend with whom I’m distressed to admit I’ve fallen inexcusably out of touch.
Somehow, all these less-than-pleasant recollections amounted to a batch of cupcakes. The simple carb gods work in mysterious ways.
These cupcakes were inspired by that one not-miserable 4th of July I spent in Johnson City with my friend Chelsea and her awesome grandparents. Chelsea’s Nanny is one of those sweet grandmas who is constantly looking for an excuse to shove food in your face, and she made this incredible red velvet mint cake that has haunted my dreams ever since.
Behold, my pathetic attempt to recreate the incredibility:
The original frosting was kind of a mint velvet/buttercream deal, but I switched it up to make it a little more occasional. Plus I’m a SUCKER for cream cheese frosting, and blueberries were 2-for-3 at Ralphs. Thank you, simple carb gods.
So if you love summer and the slew of festivities it brings, then get out there and celebrate! Have a cookout, set off some fireworks (while exercising the necessary safety measures), and whip up some patriotic cupcakes for your next pool party.
But if summer is a hard time for you, whatever the reason, know that you’re far from the only one. This feeling won’t last forever, but for now we’ve just got to stick it out. In the meantime, let’s find some friends, bake some cupcakes, and make a few good memories to hold on to.
for the cupcakes:
1 1/3 c flour
3/4 c sugar, divided
6 tbsp butter
1/2 c milk
2 egg whites
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cocoa or carob powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp red food coloring
for the frosting:
1/3 c fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 c water
1 tsp corn starch
2-3 c powdered sugar
3 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp cream cheese
1-2 drops blue food coloring (optional)
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together butter and 1/2 c of the sugar. Beat in the flour mixture and milk, alternately adding a little bit at a time until both are incorporated.
3. Divide the batter into even portions and scoop half into a separate bowl. To one, beat in 1 tsp of vanilla extract and mint extract. To the other, beat in the other tsp of vanilla extract, almond extract, red food coloring, and cocoa/carob powder.
4. In a separate, smaller bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together egg whites and the remaining 1/4 c sugar until fluffy. Divide the meringue and fold half into each of the batters.
5. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Scoop a spoonful of batter from each bowl into each cup, then use a knife to swirl and marble the batter. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes.
6. While that’s baking, make your frosting! Combine blueberries, water, and corn starch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let the mixture cook for 10-15 minutes, until it reduces to a very thick syrup. Pour into a bowl to let it cool for a bit.
7. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to combine powdered sugar and blueberry guts. Add butter, cream cheese, and food coloring (if using) and beat until smooth. You may want to add a little extra powdered sugar, depending on how liquidy your blueberries turned out.
8. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting. This recipe makes about 9 cupcakes, so you will definitely want to double it if you’re going to a party!