Rainbows make everything better, especially when it rains. You could be having THE worst day but the second you see a rainbow you can’t help but smile. Personally I think everything is more fun when it’s full of those beautiful rainbow colors. These rainbow cupcakes are the perfect example of something that’s better with color. If I walked into a bakery and they had a rainbow cupcake I would be buying it without a second thought.
Rainbow Cupcakes have been a looooooong time in the making for this blog. They are one of my absolute favorite desserts to make which most people who know me would immediately guess. When I would make surprise cakes or birthday cakes for my favorite clients I would usually make them towering rainbow cakes. In fact, these rainbow cupcakes have been on the calendar for me since before I even started this blog 10 whole months ago (I can’t believe it has been 10 months already!) and I can’t think of a better way to toss aside all the hearts, pink and cupid and celebrate the month of March.
Let’s just get this out of the way ahead of time… yes, these cupcakes have food coloring. No, I don’t normally use food coloring in recipes and yes, I know it isn’t healthy/good for you/GMO free/it kills baby seals and kittens around the world I’m sure. 99% of the things I make/bake in our house are made with whole foods, not processed or minimally processed and be it important or not, organic. Which is exactly why I have no qualms about making these gorgeous cupcakes for us to enjoy the one time a year that we do. And yes I gave them to the little ones too. But c’mon, if you were a kid, wouldn’t this make you smile?
You may be wondering how I got my colors so vibrant. Well, I didn’t use liquid food coloring. I have found that liquid food coloring doesn’t give me the colors I desire. My boyfriend got me this set of gel food coloring for my birthday and ever since then I have been in love. If you use a lot of food coloring it’s definitely worth purchasing. When my little bottles empty I plan on buying the bigger ones.
The really nice thing about gel food coloring is that a little goes a long way. With liquid food coloring I probably would have had to use a hole bottle and it still wouldn’t have turned out as vibrant. I used about a pea sized amount for each bowl of cake batter and the colors turned out this bright.
A few tips/tricks for these awesome Rainbow Cupcakes just to make your lives a bit easier since there’s quite a few little bowls of batter:
- Don’t bother weighing out the batter to ensure it is evenly dispersed. Use a 1 cup measure and any little bit left over can be extra of your favorite color. This isn’t a cake, so if one layer is a bit more prominent in some, no big deal. 🙂
- If you would like to bake these without the cupcake wrappers, I highly recommend a silicone muffin tin.
- Ziploc bags! I pipe them into the muffin tins with ziploc bags to make life SO much easier than spooning and spreading each layer.
- Clear vanilla keeps your frosting a bright white! If you want blindingly white frosting swap out your butter for shortening. Butter tastes better though.
- Don’t overbake, you don’t want the tops turning brown.
- Use a large closed star decorating tip for your frosting.
FOR THE CUPCAKES:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- Food coloring (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple)
- Rainbow sprinkles
FOR THE FROSTING:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
MAKE THE CUPCAKES:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with wrappers.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition then add the vanilla and mix until combined.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the stand mixer in three increments each, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating between each addition. Divide the batter into six bowls then dye each with the red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple food coloring.
- Spoon a portion of the purple batter into each cupcake cup, top it with the blue, then green, yellow, orange and red, careful not to mix any of the layers. (Alternately, transfer each color into sealable plastic bags and pipe the batter into the cups.) Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 18 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool completely while you make the frosting.
MAKE THE FROSTING:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined then add half of the powdered sugar and continue beating until well combined.
- Add the heavy cream and continue beating and then add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is thick and creamy. (See Kelly’s Notes.)
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, pipe or spread the frosting onto them then top with rainbow sprinkles and serve.
- Beating the frosting in between each addition of the powdered sugar lightens the color of the frosting and will make it more white in color (rather than yellow).
- If the frosting is too thin, add additional sifted powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, or if it’s too thick, add additional heavy cream 1 teaspoon at a time until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.