You know those winter scenes with tiny reindeer and snow-flocked trees set in lanterns and glass globes in every home store right now? Well, I’m fascinated by them and want to make one for Christmas in a beautiful copper lantern that I got this past summer. I haven’t done it yet, but was inspired to work with a different landscape: marbled cupcakes!
Aren’t they cute? They remind me of dioramas from my younger school years — except without the shoe box and way sweeter!
Truth be told, I didn’t make these cupcakes from scratch. I used a box of classic white and red food coloring. <Gasp!>
Especially during the busy holiday season, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to heed Ina Garten’s advice, “Store-bought is fine.” Plus, my kids love to help bake and box mixes make it easy. Let’s step it up a bit, however, and make some fun and festive marbled cupcakes instead of everyday plain ones.
First, make the cake according to the directions on the box. My son’s been helping in the kitchen for a couple of years now — look at him go!
I cracked the eggs for him, but otherwise he handled this all on his own. He also prefers to stir by hand than use the stand mixer.
Next, divide the batter and dye half of it with red food coloring. Then layer scoops of red and white batter in each cupcake liner. Fill them only 2/3 full; we got a little carried away and filled them to the top. They turned out like giant Costco muffins — no complaints here.
We conducted an experiment to see what they would look like simply layered (white batter on top of red) and slightly mixed (using a butter knife to swirl the centers).
The layered ones came out like this:
While the mixed ones came out like this:
I topped them both with my signature cream cheese frosting, which sealed the deal on deliciousness.
For decorations, I sprinkled the tops with sanding sugar to resemble snow and because every kitchen deserves a bit of sparkle. And mini tree and deer figurines from the local craft store.
And a few candy canes for good measure. Welcome to Candy Cane Lane!
Wilton makes the signs and little gingerbread bakers. Just look at that little guy with the stars and try not to smile!
So whether you’re a novice baker or just crunched for time, you can still whip up a batch of fun and festive cupcakes with a boxed mix and a few decorative items. Happy Holidays! — v.