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National Cupcake Day takes place every year on Dec. 15 as a way to celebrate the festive and scrumptious dessert that has been an American culinary icon since the 19th century. To make the most of the day as you ring in the holiday season, bake up a batch of your favorite cupcakes.
1. Sweetheart Cupcakes
The holidays present a unique opportunity to get creative and put a festive spin on traditional vanilla cupcakes. Surprise your guests with these colorful treats this year.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Combine the cake mix, vegetable oil, water and egg whites and beat them together with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Then turn it up to medium for 2 minutes or until smooth. Fill each cupcake liner with batter until it's about 1/3 full and set aside.
Stir four drops of red food coloring in the bowl containing the leftover batter and stir in the raspberry oil so that the mixture turns pink. Pour 1/3 of the pink batter into a resealable plastic bag and set aside. Mix more food coloring into the pink batter until it becomes a red, orange hue. Pour the batter into another bag and cut the corner off. Stick the cut tip into the center of each liner containing white batter and squeeze in about 2 tablespoons of the red batter. Repeat the process with the bag of pink batter, squeezing only 1 tablespoon into each cup this time.
Bake the cupcakes for about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean. Let cool and frost.
2. Snowball Cupcakes
These sweet and tasty snowball cupcakes are covered in sanded sugar and frosting for a whimsical look your friends and family will love, especially the kids!
Preheat oven to 325°F and line 14 cups of two standard muffin tins with foil liners. Melt and stir chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Let cool while you sift salt, baking powder and flour into a bowl. Mix in the sugar and butter. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat on medium-high for 3-5 minutes, or until fluffy and pale. Reduce speed to low and combine vanilla and buttermilk.
Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the yolk and eggs. Pour in melted chocolate and mix until smooth. Fill each liner with 1/3 of the batter using a spoon. Bake for about 12 minutes and let cool on wire racks.
Spread a thin layer of frosting on each cupcake. Then put a smooth mound of frosting on top of each cupcake using a 2 1/2 inch ice cream scooper dipped in hot water. Sprinkle with sanding sugar and let sit for 3 hours before serving.
3. Eggnog Cupcakes
Give the eggnog lovers in your life a special treat this year by turning their favorite holiday beverage into a mouthwatering cupcake.
Pour the egg whites into a large bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line muffin tin with paper liners. Cream the butter and 1/4 cup of sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat well after each addition.
In another bowl, combine the baking powder, flour, salt and nutmeg and whisk together. Add to the creamed mixture, alternating with eggnog, beating well after each addition. Beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually pour in the leftover sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the beater on high after each addition until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form and then fold into batter.
Pour the batter into the muffin cups until they're 3/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fully blended. Add eggnog and sugar gradually until smooth. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with nutmeg before serving.