All Rainbows & Glitter

Sometimes you have an occasion that calls for - no, requires rainbows and glitter. When my daughter's birthday was approaching and she requested chocolate cupcakes, I asked if she had any particular theme in mind. "Surprise me." Well, that's a request that requires rainbows and glitter. And guess what ... I surprised her.

While requiring several steps, decorating cupcakes like this isn't a terribly difficult process. You begin with your favorite decorating frosting -- I chose buttercream -- in a plain white color. You can tweak flavors with extracts and the like, but keep the color white so that when you add food coloring you can get the most vibrant colors. Speaking of vibrant colors, keep in mind that food coloring with less moisture in it will allow you to get brighter colors. So powdered food coloring will give you the brightest colors, while gel food coloring will give you slightly less colorful frosting, and liquid food coloring will give you less vibrant color still. I used gel food coloring for these cupcakes.

I used three different colors (red, blue, and yellow-green) for my frosting and made equal amounts of each. I spooned my frosting (make your own or use premade) into three plastic resealable bags and added gel food coloring to each bag. Seal and squeeze the bag until the frosting is even in color. Add more coloring as needed. Once you've achieved the color you want, line a sheet with plastic wrap and cut the corner of each bag and squeeze a line of each color - side by side - onto the plastic wrap as shown in the photo above.

Carefully wrap the plastic wrap together to form a single tube of frosting, twisting the ends to keep the frosting from sliding out, as shown in the photo above. If the frosting is warm from the mixing and piping, place the tube of frosting in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes to allow the the frosting to firm up a bit. When you are ready to frost your cupcakes, place a star tip on a piping bag and set it into a pint glass, rolling the edge of the bag over the glass. Carefully cut one end of the frosting tube you set up in the plastic wrap and carefully set the cut end of the tube into the piping bag. Beginning on the edge of the cupcake, squeeze the piping bag using even pressure and keep moving in an ongoing circle, ending at the center. You can lift the piping bag as you finish the circle and stop pressing to give your cupcakes a little "tail".

To add the glitter, while the frosting is still wet, place each cupcake in the center of a large bowl and, using a teaspoon or sifter, carefully sprinkle edible glitter (found in specialty baking shops) over the top of the cupcake. I used glitter dust to give a very strong glitter effect. Only use edible glitter products when decorating any food! Note: These cupcakes glittered like crazy and the edible glitter will stick to just about anything it comes into contact with, so wash all your tools immediately and be careful about where you set and store the cupcakes. That said, the smile on a certain young lady's face made it all entirely worth it!

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