Mathea Tanner is the cook, writer, artist and brains that make Peas Love Carrots one of the food blogs I love to visit. Her recipes for penguins, snowmen and lambs will make you want to rush to the kitchen even if you are a vegetarian. I’m pleased to be able to introduce you and her blog, peaslovecarrots, to you.
I often have these moments of excitement when I think I’ve had an original recipe idea only to rush to my computer and have Google tell me that I am last in a line of hundreds to have it. I’m left wondering if in the past I’ve seen these recipes somewhere or another and forgotten about them, only to resurface again as subliminal faux-epiphanies. While it’s not a bad thing to do something that’s been done before, it does take away the feeling of being some sort of culinary explorer, charting unknown waters. Every now and then one likes to feel like a discoverer, right?
The other day I day I decided to make rainbow cupcakes.
[/dontprint]Having searched for a recipe online, I found about 80 bazillion gorgeous, jewel-toned cupcakes exploding onto the page. Most, like this one from Delicious Delicious Delicious, were also much prettier than I could ever hope to make myself. So I decided to try to make them using something other than the traditional food coloring as a little “twist”. I’m pretty sure there’s lots of variations on this theme as well, but I’ve yet to find them lurking around the web.
This might be good for those allergic to food coloring, are hesitant to use it, or who just ran out of said coloring and have a bunch of berries lying about.
Please note that this “recipe” calls for boxed cake mix. The reason this is recommended (other than convenience) is that pre-made mixes contain emulsifiers and the like that allow the batter to be rather bullet proof to outside additions, so long as you don’t go overboard. ”Recipe” is in quotes here, by the way, because it is more of a list of tips and additives to what is really just boxed cake mix! That being said, I think it’s a pretty neat non-recipe. I hope you do, too!
- Use a boxed “White Cake Mix” that calls for a liquid (usually water) to be added to the mix
- When adding purees, reduce the water in the mix by the amount of puree you are going to use (typically 1/4 – 1/2 cup)
- Mix your batter plain, then divide out portions into bowls to color individually
- Bake cupcakes according to the instructions on the box for cupcakes
- Layer 1 tablespoon of each color at a time
Non-Recipe List of Natural Color Additives:
For Green: 1 tablespoon Matcha green tea powder for every cup of batter (add a teaspoon of powdered ginger for a yummy ginger green tea layer!). The color is bright and tastes great! Other possibilities depending on your region include pandan leaves (careful, some have artificial color) and the juice from boiling down spinach water (tried it, surprisingly not much spinach flavor!).
For Purple: Boil 1 cup of frozen mixed berries, or fresh blackberries/blueberries in 1/4 cup water. Allow to cool and puree until smooth.
For Pink – Boil 1 cup strawberries or red raspberries (fresh or frozen) in 1/4 cup water. Allow to cool and puree until smooth.
For Orange/Bright Yellow – Add the zest of 1 orange and a teaspoon of powdered turmeric - the turmeric leaves very little flavor and gives you a brilliant warm orangey-gold hue!
For Polka Dot – Ok, so that’s really not a color, but I thought it was fun so I added some poppy seeds to plain white batter to mix it up. You can also use black sesame seeds or heck, cracked pepper if you’re adventurous.
Your colors for this will not ever be as brilliant as they are with artificial colors, but the flavors are fun and the colors are a beautiful pastel. Of course, there are also some good, shelf-stable natural food colors on the market now, too. I think the important thing is, well, to add a little color into your baking – even if you’re not the first person in the world to do it.