Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

For the second half of my desserts from the 4th, I made Red, White & Blue Cupcakes, with an Almond Cream Cheese Frosting. I adapted the White Velvet Butter Cake from The Cake Bible, by substituting half of the vanilla for almond extract. Since I love almond flavor I try to put it in whatever I can. I separated the batter into three bowls, and used Wilton gel food dye to color one bowl red, the second blue, and the third I left white. Then I layered each color to make the red, white, and blue layers. I used a basic cream cheese frosting recipe, and flavored it with almond to pair with the cake. The cake was light and fluffy, and I loved the look of the layered colors.

Red, White & Blue Cupcakes
(White Velvet Butter Cake)

4 large egg whites (4 oz egg whites)
1 cup milk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3 cups sifted cake flour (cake flour-NOT all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350F and fill two 12 count cupcake trays with cupcake wrappers.

In a medium bowl, combine egg whites, vanilla and almond extracts, and 1/4 cup milk.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and mix together to blend. Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened.

Increase to medium speed (high if using a hand mixer) for 1.5 minutes. Then add the egg, vanilla and milk mixture in three equal parts, beating for 20 seconds between additions. Separate the batter into three bowls.

Put a few drops of blue gel dye into one bowl, until you reach desired shade. Put several drops of red gel dye into the second bowl, until desired shade. Leave the third bowl white.

Put a layer of red batter into cupcake liners, try to keep layers even. Spoon a layer of white batter on top of the red layer. You can use the tip of your finger to lightly spread the layer if needed. Spoon a layer of blue batter on top of the white layer, spreading until previous layer is completely covered. Try to fill each cake with an equal amount of batter. Each cupcake wrapper will be about 2/3-3/4 full.

Place trays in the oven for 15-20 minutes, remove when top of cupcakes spring back when touched, or toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then place on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, cold
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, then almond and vanilla extracts, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

If needed, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Tip: Don't over beat the cream cheese, this will cause it to break down and make it too soft to pipe.

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