‘Tis the season to make a dessert that celebrates America in all its glory. The obvious choice here would be apple pie, but I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t really like pie, and out of all the pies in the world, I probably like apple pie the least. Sure, sometimes I’ll make a pie because I like making lattice crust, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat a piece of pie if somebody gave it to me–it’s just not my favorite genre of dessert. I know it has a certain folksy charm, but that’s also what people said about John Edwards, and the bloom is off that rose nowadays, am I right?
Perhaps now you’re thinking: “This girl hates apple pie–does she hate baseball too? And that song by Lee Greenwood? WHERE IS HER LONG-FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE?” (Answers: “No,” “Yes, kind of” and “I will not dignify that with a response.”) Well, you can just calm down. I’ve got patriotic desserts under control. For example, here is last year’s Fourth of July creation:
(Apologies to 9 of the 13 original colonies, but you try making 13 strawberry stripes in a standard-sized cake pan.) Also, one of our prized family possessions is a Jello mold in the shape of the continental United States. Behold:
Every time we get this turned out without Florida or New England detaching I am amazed all over again.
This year, I went with star-spangled cupcakes for the family barbecue. I wanted to make red velvet, but I tried getting the red color with pureed beets (inspired by this recipe from Peas and Thank You) and they didn’t really turn out red. There’s cocoa powder in them as well, but they’re not particularly chocolate-y because it’s only a quarter-cup. So, I guess these cupcakes do not have a true flavor identity. They could be many things to many people–I’m going to call them tasty little tributes to cultural pluralism, topped with cream cheese frosting.
First, I pureed a pack of pre-cooked beets from Trader Joe’s. Don’t be scared! I know it sounds weird, but beets are actually kind of sweet. They work really well in this recipe and there’s no vegetable-y flavor at all. I wouldn’t lie about cupcakes!
Then I whipped up the batter, spooned it into the cupcake liners, and baked. (This is actually my Grandma Pearl’s banana bread recipe with beets instead of mashed bananas. It is not healthy in any way, so if you came to this site from the Healthy Living Blogs database, I am sorry and I urge you to stop back next week instead )
Then, the best part: decor! Frosting, sprinkles and a tiny flag stuck in each one, Neil Armstrong style. One small step for me, one giant leap for cupcakery.
I think Lee Greenwood would be proud. The recipe is below. Happy Fourth to you and yours!
Secret Beet Cupcakes (makes 16-18)
- 1/2 c. butter (1 stick) at room temperature
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 c. flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 c. cocoa powder
- 1 8-oz. package of pre-cooked beets (or, if you cook your own, 5 small or about 3 medium), pureed with a few tablespoons of water
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well-combined, and then fold in the pureed beets. Spoon into cupcake liners and bake at 350 for about 18 minutes.
I topped them with cream cheese frosting–mix 8 oz. cream cheese and one stick of butter (both at room temperature) with 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 c. confectioners sugar.