- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Fourth of the July menu is all about tradition, and that’s what I love about this summer holiday. Be it barbecued ribs, a clam roast or fried chicken, the menu reflects the region and the family and the friends. Don’t mess with it, but do offer something fun and patriotic for dessert, in addition to the blueberry pie or peach cobbler, that is.

Children love these festive cupcakes, and they’ll love you for baking them. From the inside to the outside, these cupcakes are bursting with red, white and blue sprinkles and are topped with a glittering American flag.

The cake batter is a rich vanilla-scented white, and the frosting is a classic butter cream, the perfect neutral backdrop for a fireworks of decorations.

Five time-shaving sides for the Fourth of July

After you open your favorite can of baked beans, add a couple squirts of barbecue sauce and shavings of sweet onion on top. Bake until bubbly.

• Quarter potatoes and boil until softened but still firm, about 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and cube them and toss with olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper, and pressed fresh garlic. When they cool, toss with a lot of chopped parsley and enough mayonnaise for a fresh, fast potato salad.

• Dump a bag of coleslaw mix into a large bowl. Add a handful of chopped sweet onion and green bell pepper. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Add • cup of sweet pickle juice and enough mayonnaise to just moisten the coleslaw.

1/4 Peel back the husks of fresh corn (but don’t tear off), remove the silks, pull the husks back up and tie them around the top of the cob with twine. Place the corn over a hot charcoal or gas grill fire and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, turning frequently. Serve with salt, pepper and butter.

• m My favorite and quick brownies begin with a brownie mix that you top with chopped walnuts and a handful of chocolate chips before baking. Take care to underbake them, then cool so you can slice into little squares. A 9-inch pan needs no more than 40 minutes baking at 325 degrees.

Fireworks confetti cupcakes

The preparation time is 15 minutes, the baking time is 16 to 20 minutes, and the assembly time is 40 minutes.


1 18.25-ounce package sour cream white cake mix with pudding

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 cups whole milk

cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 (2.5 ounces, cup) container mixed red, white and blue sprinkles

Butter-cream frosting (recipe follows)


Red edible glitter

White edible glitter

Blue edible glitter

Miniature paper American flags

Have ready 24 paper liners for cupcake pans, preferably printed with patriotic themes (2-inch size). Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

Place cake mix, flour, milk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down sides again, if needed.

Pour in sprinkles and blend on medium for 10 seconds more. Spoon or scoop 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes; remove empty liners, if any.) Place pans on center rack of preheated 350-degree oven.

Bake cupcakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove pans from oven and place on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes.

Run a dinner knife around edges of cupcake liners, lift cupcakes up from bottoms of cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

Meanwhile, prepare butter-cream frosting. Place about 3/4 cup frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a No. 8 tip or in a small plastic sandwich bag. (If using a plastic bag, cut off a small piece of one of the bottom corners.)

Pipe various-size spikes of frosting over tops of cupcakes. Some spikes should be short and squat, some a little taller and thinner, say 1 inches high. The idea is to make the frosting look like a fireworks display. Refill bag with more frosting as it empties. Garnish each cupcake with red, white and blue edible glitter and place a flag in the center. The cupcakes are ready to serve.

You can store these cupcakes at room temperature for up to 3 days, but the glitter garnish will begin to weep into the frosting as the cupcakes sit, so they are really best if eaten the day they are baked and decorated.

Without frosting and garnish, you can bake and freeze them, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cupcakes overnight in the refrigerator before frosting and decorating. Makes 22 to 24 cupcakes (2 inches each).


8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature

3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 to 4 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, 30 seconds. Stop machine and add confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons milk and vanilla. Blend with mixer on low speed until sugar is incorporated, 1 minute.

Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Add up to 1 tablespoon more milk if frosting seems too stiff. Makes 2 cups; enough to frost 24 cupcakes.

Anne Byrn is the author of the popular Doctor series cookbooks, including “The Cake Mix Doctor” and “The Dinner Doctor” and “Cupcakes From the Cake Mix Doctor” (Workman Publishing). To share favorite cooking tips, ask questions and access her online newsletter, go to www.cakemixdoctor.com.


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