Stars and Stripes Cupcakes for the 4th of July!

There are a lot of ways to show your patriotism. Some people choose the patriotic bumper sticker or chanting “U!S!A!” at sporting events. We prefer to go the cupcake route, which is what I think the Founding Fathers would have preferred. At least Ben Franklin. He seems like a man who could appreciate a star-spangled cupcake had such a thing existed in ye olden days.

Like America, cupcakes bring all kinds of people together. Cupcakes know no race, creed, or religion. Everybody gets their own cupcake, which speaks to America’s devotion to individualism. Also, these cupcakes are red, white, and blue. However, the frosting is cream cheese-based, so don’t leave them in the heat too long. These colors will run.

Our cupcakes are made with a classic yellow cake recipe that’s moist and flavorful. For frosting, I went with a lightly sweet cream cheese frosting with a hint of lime. Feel free the increase the powdered sugar in the frosting–I like mine barely sweet, but you should sweeten according to your own tastes.

Stars and Stripes Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Lime Frosting
makes 12 full-size cupcakes

for the cupcakes (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, or 1 cup milk plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin tins or line with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for several minutes, until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Ad in the eggs one at a time. Add the buttermilk, and then the vanilla. Finally, with mixer on low, add the flour gradually, being careful not to over mix.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

for the cream cheese lime frosting
1 8 oz. package Neufchatel or cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar (up to 2 cups if you like it sweet)
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the cream cheese and butter together with a mixer. When it is smooth and fluffy, add the sugar and lime juice, and beat to incorporate.

for stars and stripes decoration
red and blue sprinkles
wax paper
scissors
tweezers

For best results, prepare cupcakes decoration a few hours before serving. Cut out wax paper stars and stripes. Carefully lay the templates on the cupcakes, and apply sprinkles. Remove the template with tweezers and serve!

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