The kids are back in school this week, and I'm feeling a little bittersweet about it. It's nice to have some free time and enjoy going out to breakfast with the neighbor ladies on occasion. But I sure do miss my son chatting my ear off about superhero movies and I miss my daughter helping me in the kitchen with our cakes and cupcakes. As they grow older, some of the "back to school" fun fades. My middle school kids aren't so keen about going back to school now that they're deemed too old for recess. As I look at friends' photos of their little ones just starting out, I feel a sense of nostalgia. I reminisce about the fun "first days" we had as a family and the numerous "first days" I had as a preschool teacher. One of my favorite back-to-school memories was reciting "quickberry, quackberry, make me a blackberry," from the book Jamberry by Bruce Degen. It was one of the preschool kids' favorites and blackberries just so happen to be my kids' favorite fruits. So in honor of going back to school-whether big or small- I'm making these delicious backberry, quckberry, pick me a blackberry cupcakes.
Cupcakes: One box vanilla cake mix plus water, oil, and eggs or ingredients for our recipe for white cake; 1/3 cup blackberries; purple food coloring (optional)
Blackberry buttercream frosting: 1 stick butter; 1/4 cup shortening; 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar; 1 tsp. vanilla extract; 2 tablespoons blackberry jam; 3 tablespoons milk; purple food coloring; pink food coloring
Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with liners. Prepare batter according to directions on back of box or prepare our recipe for white cake (see link above). Using a food processor, puree 1 cup of fresh blackberries to yield 1/2 blackberry puree. Strain though a fine mesh strainer, and discard the pulp. Fold into the batter. If desired, add several drops of purple food coloring and stir until combined. Fill liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean.
Blackberry buttercream frosting: Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and shortening. Add the milk, blackberry jam, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Divide frosting into two bowls. Add several drops of purple food coloring to one bowl and several drops of pink food coloring to the other. Stir until no white remains. If desired, add more food coloring until desired color is achieved. Place the pink frosting on one side of a piping bag and the purple frosting on the other side. When cupcakes are cooled, swirl onto the center of each cupcake.