Colorful cupcakes cover dessert spectrum

A little food coloring and knowledge of the color wheel make for interesting cupcakes.

Everyone loves rainbows. They are so colorful and fun to seek out after a storm.

Today’s recipe is just as fun — Rainbow Cup­cakes with Butter­cream Frosting from These cupcakes will have you seeking them out for their fun colors.

The recipe uses the six commons colors of a rainbow — the primary and secondary colors of the color wheel. Primary colors red, yellow and blue are the basic colors from which all other colors originate. Secondary colors are made by mixing equal amounts of two primary colors.

Red and yellow will make orange. Yellow and blue create green. While red and blue will give you purple or violet. Mixing a primary color with a secondary color will give you the remaining six colors of the color wheel. The third group of colors are called tertiary or intermediate colors.

Knowing this basic principle of color design, you will be able to create endless color combinations for batters and frostings.

These cupcakes are a fun project to prepare with children or grandchildren. They can be made from scratch as stated in the recipe or created from a cake mix. If you decide to use a cake mix, use a white cake as the butter cake mix will change the color slightly because of the yellow tint.

After mixing your batter, divide it into six bowls and I suggest using a dry measuring cup.

For the scratch recipe, use 1/3 cup for each bowl and a tablespoon for any additional batter to attempt to get the same amount in each bowl. When using a cake mix, use a 2/3 cup and add the additional tablespoon, if needed, for the remaining batter.

Once you have the batter divided, color each batter. I recommend gel food coloring as opposed to liquid food coloring. Carefully spoon each colored batter into your cupcake liners. I also recommend doing one color at a time and then move on to the next color. I put the primary colors on the bottom layer and then added the secondary colors on top. The order doesn’t really matter as long as each cupcake gets all six colors.

Follow the baking instructions listed with the recipe or the box mix. Allow them to cool completely before frosting. I made a couple of changes to the frosting recipe. Instead of 1 cup of softened butter, I used ½ cup (1 stick) of butter with ½ cup of Crisco. This gives the frosting more stability.

I used 1 teaspoon of almond flavoring and 1 teaspoon of clear vanilla flavoring. The clear vanilla will not tint the frosting.

Frost and finish the cupcakes with colorful sprinkles.

This recipe can be changed for the occasion. Tint batter with pink and red for Valentine’s, green, yellow and purple for Mardi Gras, light and dark green for St. Patrick’s, red, white and blue for 4th of July, orange and purple for Halloween and red and green for Christmas.

The combinations are endless as the colors of the rainbow.

Cherie Mingus is a retired teacher who taught family and consumer sciences at Central Hardin High School. She can be reached at

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