Last week, something really exciting happened at work. Explosive, even.
I’m talking cupcakes. Georgetown cupcakes. Shot out of a turret.
Katherine and Sophie (of “DC Cupcakes” fame) made a cupcake-covered tank and delivered it to the Pentagon for the Army’s birthday last week. The plywood tank was covered in chocolate cupcakes with mocha butter cream and camouflage fondant. And the turret shot cupcakes.
So, I thought you might want to make your own camouflage cupcakes. These aren’t quite the same as the ones on the tank, but they’re still pretty awesome. And you won’t have to wait in a super long line for them, which is a major bonus.
I used red velvet cake batter, though you are welcome to use yellow cake batter (or whatever). I just figured having some brown in the batter already would be a good thing. But I was afraid straight-up chocolate would be too dark.
I’ll confess I didn’t measure the food color gel exactly when I was making these pastes. If you are concerned about making the colors too dark, you can just squirt the color into the batter once you’ve divided it into three equal parts. Keep in mind that the colors will darken a bit after baking.
Once the batter is ready, divide it into three equal parts. You can use a measuring cup or food scale to get it equal, or just eyeball it. If one bowl ends up with a little more batter than the other bowls, make that one green. I feel like green is the most important color here.
The idea when assembling the cupcakes is to put about a tablespoon of one color of batter in each cupcake cup, then a tablespoon of the next color and then the next, then repeat. If it looks totally haphazard, that’s a good thing. You want the colors to kind of slide around a bit and be layered on top of each other to create the camouflage pattern.
Messy, but easy. I promise.
And look how cool they are when they come out of the oven! You almost don’t want to frost them.
I topped mine with cream cheese frosting, a few green sprinkles and a chocolate Eagle, Globe and Anchor, because these are Marine Corps cupcakes. But you can make yours Army cupcakes, if you are more hooah than oo-rah.
Now if I can only figure out how to shoot them out of a turret.
Camouflage cupcakes (Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, makes about 2 dozen cupcakes)
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Green, brown and black food coloring (I used Wilton moss green and Wilton brown gel colors and ChefMaster coal black liqua-gel)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk (oops, I used the paddle!) or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Beat for an additional minute on medium.
Mix the buttermilk and vanilla together in a small bowl. Measure out the flour and stir in the salt. Alternate adding the buttermilk mixture and flour to the mixing bowl, beating constantly (if possible).
Separate the batter into three equal parts (use a food scale or a measuring cup, if possible).
Find three tiny bowls, and add 1 1/3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to each. Stir about 1 teaspoon of gel food coloring and a few drops of water OR 3/4 ounces of food coloring in to each, so you have one bowl with each color of paste.
Beat or stir one colored paste into each third of batter, so you have one bowl of green batter, one of black and one of brown. Add a bit more food color to one if the color isn’t quite dark enough (but keep in mind that colors will get darker after baking).
Stir the baking soda and vinegar together (it will bubble up) and add about a third to each part of the batter. Mix well.
Working one muffin pan at a time, spoon about a tablespoon of green batter into each cupcake cup. Add about a tablespoon of black batter next, then brown. Repeat with each color in order (you can use a different order if you want, but that’s the order I used). Each cupcake cup should be between 2/3 and 3/4 full.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs attached).
Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting.
Cream cheese frosting (you may want to double this if you plan to use a lot of frosting)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and beat to blend well. Scrape down sides of bowl and gradually add additional 2 cups powdered sugar. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.