Last week I took my kids to one of their friend's birthday party. When the time arrived for cake, all the kids lined up to get some. As the birthday boy's mother passed out slices, Chloe, who had been quietly waiting for her piece asked, "is there food coloring in that?" During the awkward silence that resulted as the mom processed that this inquiry was made by a three year-old, I was overcome by equal parts horror and pride.
Although I tell my kids that food coloring isn't good for their bodies, I'm hardly militant about them consuming it. In fact, I tend to treat birthday parties like Vegas_ whatever happens there, stays there. Juice boxes, brightly colored cakes, even cheese puffs are fine by me on special occasions. Yet in spite of my flexibility on the issue, both of my kids completely avoid artificial food coloring.
I still love brightly colored desserts and these cupcakes are one of my new faves. The cake has an intense lemon flavor while the icing is a vibrant blueish-purple free of any artificial dyes. When Kenya skeptically asked me how the icing got so blue, I was overjoyed to tell him it was only from blueberries. He brought some to school one day and as he proudly passed the bite-sized cakes out to his friends he told them, "there's no food coloring in these!"
Never underestimate how far your kids will go with a little bit of knowledge!
Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Icing_ A Cupcake to Dye For (makes 3 dozen mini muffins or 12 regular sized muffins)
- 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- zest of 2 large lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, defrosted
Preparation1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, beating on low speed until combined.
5. Still on low speed, slowly add half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go.
6. Fold in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
7. Pour the batter into greased mini muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes (22 minutes for regular sized muffins) or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.
8. Place the defrosted blueberries in a strainer over a bowl and press to produce 3-4 tablespoons of blueberry juice.
9. In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and blueberry juice to form a blueberry glaze.
10. Allow cupcakes to cool completely then drizzle or ice with the blueberry glaze.