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Kitchen Adventures: A little red, white and blue

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Food column by Becca Owsley

By Becca Owsley

When the Fourth of July is celebrated, food tends to come in shades of red, white and blue. It happens with everything, but most often in desserts and snacks.

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Cupcakes in a Jar and Firecracker Cakeletts both are cute ideas for July Fourth. But with the second treat it helps to pay close attention to the recipe.

The first is an easy twist on a cupcake. After dividing the cake mix and tinting it, I recommend adding small layers to the jars. On a few, I put in too much cake mix and the small cakes overflowed the lip of the jar when the cakes rose.

To keep it simple you can ice them with a canned icing or make your favorite recipe.

Baking them in the jars keeps the multicolored layers visible and is a cute serving idea. Adding a decorative ribbon to the jar is another nice touch.

For the firecrackers, I made a classic error. I got in a hurry, skimmed the recipe and looked at the photos instead of reading it completely.

I saw white cake mix in the recipe listing and wrongly assumed I would just use a regular cake mix recipe.

As I was building the firecrackers, I wondered how the creator of the recipe got the cake layers to stay so firm. I later learned the answer. The recipe was using the white cake mix along with other ingredients to make a sponge cake, which is why the firecrackers shown in the photos looked much better than what I made.

Live and learn, right?

I also think I cut the centers of the cake rings that make the firecrackers too large. Smaller holes in the center of the rings would have made the construction easier.

If you go by the recipe, you should have the proper materials to build the cakelette nicely. Regardless of how poorly my Firecracker Cakelettes were built, they still tasted OK. The Pop Rocks threw a few people off when they bit into it.

I think this is a good lesson for anyone who likes to cook or bake. Sometimes you just have to try things. They might not work out the first time, but often you learn lessons for the next time.

Some things might never work out the way you want them, but some things can be worth a second try, especially in this case when the problem was user error.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Cupcakes in a Jar
White cake mix and the ingredients listed on the cake mix box (usually eggs, oil and water)
Red and blue food coloring
Red and blue sprinkles
1 cup wide mouth jars (at least 12) 

Mix cake according to package directions.

Divide batter into three parts. Leave one bowl of batter white. Using the food coloring tint one bowl of batter blue and one red.

Using a cookie scoop, layer each color batter into the jar until there are three even layers — red, white and blue.

Bake the jars on a cookie sheet for 25 minutes or until they spring back when gently pushed in the center.

Ice and cover with sprinkles.

Recipe from www.remarkablehome.net

Firecracker Cakelettes
1 box white cake mix
4 egg whites
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup sour cream
Red and blue food coloring
3 packages Pop Rocks candy
Black licorice ropes
White frosting (less than 1/4 cup) 

Mix white cake mix, egg whites, oil, water and sour cream for three to four minutes on medium speed. Split cake batter into three equal amounts, adding red and blue food coloring to two of the portions. Coat three, 4- by 9-inch bread pans with cooking spray and lightly flour the bottoms. Add the three batters to the pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 18-23 minutes. Allow them to cool and remove from pans.

Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut circles from each of the baked cakes.

Using a serrated knife, carefully trim off the browned, baked bottoms of each cake circle.

Using a jumbo straw or plastic tube (1/2 or 3/4 inch in diameter), remove the centers of the cake circles. Be sure to save the red and blue centers to use as plugs later.

Put a portion of the red cake plugs back into the bottoms of the red cake circles. Pipe a line of frosting around the centers of the red and white cake circles. Stack the white cakes on top of the red cakes and the blue cakes on top of the white cakes.

Add Pop Rocks down the hollow centers of the stacked cakes. Put a portion of the blue cake plugs back into the tops, covering the center filled with Pop Rocks.

Cut licorice rope pieces approximately 1 1/2 inches long and insert them into the centers of the blue cakes.

For maximum popping potential, pour the Pop Rocks into the cake centers no earlier than one hour before serving. The moisture in the cakes will cause the Pop Rocks to slightly snap and crackle on their own. In fact, they make a great sizzling sound on the plate. But after about four hours the Pop Rocks lose most of their popping power, so plan accordingly.

Yields 10-14 cakes.

Recipe from www.sheknows.com