My daughter is not a princess…except on Halloween, when she seems always to demand a princess costume of one stripe or another. And, okay, yes, she plays with Barbie dolls. And, it’s true her walls are pink (a pale, tasteful, powder-pink, and that doesn’t count, right?) And, if pressed, I’d have to admit that her favorite movies all involve princesses. But, I guess what I mean to say is this: we don’t “princessify” her. She doesn’t wear shirts proclaiming her princess status. I keep her hair cut to chin-length because she hates to have it fixed…or even combed, to be honest. She can rip off five chin-ups without breaking a sweat. And at least one time out of five, she beats her big brother at arm-wrestling.
The child is a force, half-twist-tie, half-jumping-bean. All sinew and brown eyes.
So why she insists upon requesting berry flavored cakes for her birthday, I just don’t know. I mean, I do know: it’s because they’re pink. And pink is too powerful a force for even her to resist. If it were a physical thing, something she could out-arm-wrestle or lift and toss, she’d have beaten it by now. But pink…pink is sneaky.
A couple of years ago, in response to her request, I made a very mediocre strawberry cake which included, against my better judgment, strawberry Jell-O. (My older son recently declared that he hates Jell-O because “it’s like liquid you have to chew!” The other two kids didn’t know what it was–a fact about which I silently but heartily congratulated myself.)
This year, I decided to take it up a notch in girliness and down a notch in artificiality. These pink-and-purple beauties involve real berries, no Jell-O, and no food coloring. They’re pretty enough for kids and tasty enough for grown-ups.
The recipe I have here makes cupcakes that are muffin-y in their texture and appearance. If you want them less muffin-y and more cupcakey, blend your berries and then strain them before adding them to your batter.
(makes 1 dozen, with a little bit of frosting to spare)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries
1. Place your blueberries in a bowl and mash them up. (If you want cupcakes that are un-muffiny, see my note, just before the recipe. I wanted to see the berries in these.)
2. Use your electric mixer to cream–and I do mean cream–the melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
3. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add them to the batter and mix just until combined. The batter will be quite stiff at this point.
4. In a small glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the sour cream and the milk. Then add it, all at once, to the batter, mixing until just incorporated.
5. Now, stir in your berries. Mix the batter until it turns a gorgeous shade of pale purple.
6. Scoop into your muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees until they are lightly golden on top and until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (except for bubbly berry goo).
Now that your purple cupcakes are baking, whip up some pink cream cheese frosting!
Pink Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons or so mixed berry (or strawberry or raspberry) jam
1. Mix your cream cheese, butter, and sour cream until it’s smooth. I always use a stand mixer cranked up to turbo speed and a the whisk attachment to accomplish this.
2. Add your sugar, slowly increasing the speed on your mixer, so you avoid powdered-sugaring your entire kitchen. Mix until very fluffy and smooth.
3. Add your jam and mix again.
Top your cooled cupcakes with the pink frosting. I added an M&M to make them look like little flowers…sort of. Decorating is not my strong suit, but when they taste this good, who cares?