Fourth of July Cupcakes

Ingredients

24 paper muffin cup liners
4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs
2 c. well-shaken buttermilk
Buttercream frosting
Red licorace laces
Blue M&M's candy or blue icing, depending on preference

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F and line muffin cups with paper liners. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Next beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and with mixer on low speed beat in buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, beating until just combined after each addition.

Divide batter among muffin cups (batter will fill cups) and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of muffin trays halfway through baking, about 22 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean. Cool cupcakes on racks five minutes and remove cupcakes from cups.

Once cupcakes are at room temperature, frost them with the white buttercream frosting. To decorate with a flag motif, cut licorace into 72 1½-inch-long strips and 72 ¾-inch-long strips. Form a flag pattern on each cupcake by by placing three short pices of licorace in a row, followed by the three longer strips. You should be left with a rectangular area for placing the blue candies or frosting (the stars). If using candy, place four blue M&Ms on each muffin to serve as the stars. If using icing, pipe nine small dots in the open corner of each cupcake.

Yield

24 servings

Adapted from epicurious.com