Rainbows make me smile. When I was a kid I’d tell people that my favorite color was rainbow. There’s just something about the transition of colors that makes me happy. While on another Pinterest binge, I came across a photo of rainbow of cupcakes on Camille Styles, which was actually originally on MarthaStewart.com, and decided it was time to roll up my sleeves and finally make a rainbow of cupcakes.
I made the buttercream frosting from scratch using a modified version of a recipe from Savory Sweet Life (theirs here). Head here for my altered version. In general, the differences include 1) using salted butter instead of unsalted, 2) using less heavy cream, and 3) adding a few teaspoons of corn starch to stiffen the frosting for piping. It’s such a simple recipe, but tastes unbelievable! I thought about adding some bourbon cherry bitters to the frosting, but I figured I’d keep it simple this time around and focus my energy on the rainbow of frosting. You’ll also want to get the frosting as white as possible, so take a look at my post about frosting (here) for a couple tips.
My focus was on making a ton of colors of frosting, so I just used boxed cake mix for the cupcakes and doctored them up a bit. In fact, I’ll be honest with you, I rarely ever make my own cake from scratch. I’m much more interested in making them look amazing, but I do want them to taste good! I turn to the Cake Mix Doctor for great ideas on how to transform boxed cake mix into something that tastes like it was made from scratch. For these cupcakes, I used Super Moist Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mix, BUT used whole milk instead of water, and a half cup of butter instead of oil.
While baking what seemed like a million mini-cupcakes, I prepared the frosting. My first thought was, “How the hell am I going to make all these colors?! I don’t have enough bowls!” So I started off with 3 bowls of frosting with 3 different colors: yellow, pink, and purple.
Each color had to be applied to 3 or 4 cupcakes before I moved on to creating a new color. That sounds like a lot of piping bags and a lot of piping hassle. Who wants to prepare and clean a piping bag for THREE tiny cupcakes? So instead, I created mini piping bags out of little plastic sandwich bags. These were PERFECT! I could quickly make them, use them, toss them, and move on to the next color. No cleaning up involved. No color contamination. I felt like a genius at first when I thought of this, but then found a ton of how-to videos for this trick. Shoot! So I’ve included one for you below.
To make the different colors of frosting you’ll make a bowl of frosting one color, pipe that color onto 3 or 4 cupcakes, then add a couple drops of coloring in that same bowl to make a new color, then pipe that color onto 3 or 4 cupcakes. This is how you make the transition from shade to shade. I started with pink (which was just red dye) then transitioned to coral by adding drops of yellow, and continued to transition to orange by adding more drops of yellow.
Then I switched to my yellow bowl (which was just yellow dye). I started with yellow, added drops of green to get to a brighter and brighter lime color.Finally I switched to my purple bowl (which was just purple dye). I decided to split my purple bowl into two bowls. One purple bowl transitioned from purple to burgundy (after dropping in red dye), and the other transitioned from purple to a purple-y blue (after dropping in blue dye).
My army of mini cupcakes turned out better than I could have hoped! They didn’t take as long as I expected to make–mostly because I wasn’t concerned with how well the piping turned out. They were so beautifully lined up in the break room that nobody wanted to eat them (note: they were gone before lunch though). I’d love to try this again, but with blues, greens, and turquoise.