Every year, our quaint little town has a Memorial Day parade. Boy scouts, Brownies, tuba players, and ordinary citizens ride on star-spangled floats to honor our veterans and pay respects to those we love and miss and most. Whether it's rainy or scorching hot, I'm always amazed to see the large turnout for the parade. We've lived in our town for nearly 15 years, so inevitably we see many familiar faces in the crowd. Whether it's a former co-worker or back-in-the day play group companion, it's always a pleasant surprise to see an old friend. Although Memorial Day is a time to honor those who have passed, it's also a nice day to reflect on those who are present. These surprise patriotic cupcakes are a tribute to the traditional, but never-forgotten "vanilla" in our lives, as well as the bright and starry surprises that come our way.
Cupcakes: 1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix or our recipe for vanilla cake mix; 2 eggs; 1/2 cup oil; 1 cup water; red food coloring; red, white, and blue sprinkles for garnish.
Whipped vanilla frosting: 2 cups heavy whipping cream; 3 cups powdered sugar; 1 tsp. vanilla; blue food coloring; colored sprinkles for garnish
Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Scoop two cups of batter into a small mixing bowl. Place several drops of red food coloring into the batter to reach the desired red color. Place batter into a square 8x8 pan and bake for 20 minutes. Allow cake to cool completely. Using a 2 inch star cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut out 12 star shapes.
Place 12 liners into a cupcake pan. Fill each liner 1/3 full of batter. Insert a red star into the middle. Gently push down into the batter. Spoon 1 or 2 tablespoons of batter over star, until they are covered. (the very top may poke through).
Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of an electric stand mixer, whip whipping cream on medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold in powdered sugar. Add vanilla and several drops of blue food coloring.
Whip again on medium-high speed until frosting is thick enough to pipe and food coloring is mixed completely. Place frosting into a piping bag with an open star tip. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish with sprinkles.