Star-Spangled Cupcakes!

You and the kids can make star-studded cupcakes that sparkle!

By Kathy Oberman

 Have fun this 4th of July with your kids. Help them make these easy cupcakes, decorated in red, white, and blue for a delicious patriotic dessert or snack.

If your kitchen is equipped with an electric mixer, bowl, sifter, rubber spatula, and cupcake tin with paper liners, you are good to go! It's time to have some baking fun with the youngsters.

What You Need
To make the cupcakes you need the following ingredients:
All-purpose flour
Baking powder
Baking soda
Unsalted butter
Vanilla extract
Raspberries and blueberries
Confectioners' sugar
Food coloring
Red, white, and blue spinkles

If you do not have buttermilk, mix 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar for an acceptable substitute.

Easy Technique
In a large bowl, sift or whisk together all the dry ingredients and set it aside. Next, combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of the electric mixer and beat until it is light and creamy. This can take a few minutes, so urge the little ones to have patience. It will go faster in a standing mixer, but a hand-held mixer works fine.

Add the eggs one at a time. Kids love to crack eggs. Show them how to crack an egg into a custard cup and then slide the egg into the mixing bowl. This way, any disasters can be discarded and you won't find yourself trying to fish slippery egg shells from the batter.

The dry ingredients and milk should be added in alternating additions. With the mixer running, let the children add these using a spouted measuring cup for the milk and a large spoon for the flour. If they add the ingredients more rapidly than you would do, don't worry. The batter will survive!

Now is the fun part: spooning the batter in to the paper-lined cupcake tins. Show the young pastry chefs how to use a large spoon or ladle to fill each cup about three-quarters full. There is sure to be spilled batter and dribbles of it on the cupcake tin. Wipe it off the tin with a damp cloth or paper towel, if you can.

Cupcakes take only about 20 minutes in a 350° oven - so young attention spans won't be taxed. But they might lose patience waiting for the cupcakes to cool completely on wire racks. This is important, though, so don't cut corners.

Make Them Sparkle
While the cupcakes are cooling, the kids can make the simple confectioners' sugar frosting in the electric mixer. Divide it among three bowls and tint one with blue food coloring, one with red, and leave the third white.

When the cupcakes are cool, the kids can frost each one with a different color frosting and then add to the decoration with sprinkles.

Top the cupcakes with blueberries and raspberries for additional flair. These berries work best on white frosting, so if you decide to use them, consider leaving all the frosting snowy white.

The final touch for these star-spangled cupcakes is a decorative toothpick in each one. These come with flags and metallic stars or shiny fountains. You can also use real sparklers for a very July 4th effect! Make sure an adult lights the sparkler and the kids stand back.