Pink Lemonade Layered Cupcakes
With summer in full blast I wanted to make something that would add a sweet touch to our afternoon pool play time or help us celebrate our family picnics at the park. What better symbol of summer than lemonade? This recipe is an easy way to have a delicious treat while you enjoy the warm days and relaxed evenings with your family.
For some reason, creaming butter is one of my favorite steps. I always get a little excited when it’s time to set out the sticks in preparation for my next sweet adventure. The texture and temperature of your butter can make or break your baked good. You want to make sure it’s soft, but never melting. Think of hand scooped ice cream – that’s where you want your butter to be. When adding flour (or other powdered ingredients to your butter) always start on the lowest setting so you don’t find yourself cleaning the ‘dust’ from your mixer and counter top.
There is no ‘right’ amount of red food coloring for this recipe – the drops are up to you. I wanted a more defined, obvious color difference in my layers. But, you may want something more subtle. Add half the drops then mix well to judge your color. If you want more vibrancy – add more. Remember: you’re going to split your batter so go with the lightest color first.
I used a spoon to place my layers because I wasn’t concentrating on a perfect layer. If you desire something more symetrical you can use an icing bag or other tool that is more precise. My biggest challenge was keeping the family from running (read: stomping) through the kitchen while I filled the cups. I’m sure my two year old’s antics led to the more….creative…layers. But, if your color layers blend or shift – don’t worry! An abstract flow of the two colors can create a beautiful cupcake; they don’t need to be perfect.
With this batch I used a classic butter cream frosting. But, if you’re crunched for time, a marshmallow fluff works just as well. Wanting to really capture the summer feel, I decorated with butterfly gummies and colored sugar. Ironically – the gummies are sugar free.
|Pink Lemonade Layered Cupcakes||
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 c milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon extract
- 5 – 8 drops red food coloring
- Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 – 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- (up to) 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- line cupcake pan with cupcake papers
- Cream together butter and sugar, then beat in eggs one at a time
- Add vanilla and stir
- Combine flour and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture and mix well
- Stir in milk until batter is smooth
- Add lemon extract while keeping mixer on medium
- Continue to mix until fully blended
- Add red food coloring and mix until blended to a light pink
- Place half of batter in a separate bowl and set aside
- Add additional food coloring drops to one bowl and mix until blended to a dark pink
- Fill each cupcake paper 1/3 with light mixture
- Repeat second third with dark mixture
- Continue until cups are filled
- Bake 20 – 25 minutes until tops spring back when touched
- Cream butter on medium speed until smooth
- Turn mixer to low and add 3 cups of powdered sugar
- Blend well
- Increase mixer to medium and add vanilla, salt and 2 tablespoons of milk or cream. Beat for 3 minutes.
- If frosting is too soft, add remaining sugar. If frosting is too stiff, add remaining milk/cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.