Happy Wednesday, Noshers!  I recently partnered with Sprouts market for a 4th of July DIY project, where I was given free reign to come up with my own DIY activity related to the holiday. I thought and thought, but the answer was pretty obvious – patriotic CUPCAKES!! I love baking, decorating and most importantly eating sweets, so this was a perfect fit.  Today I’ll be walking you through some cute and patriotic cupcake designs just in time for the holiday :).

But first, let me just rave about how awesome new-to-me Sprouts is – coming from the NYC/NJ area, I’d never been to a Sprouts before.  When I made my way to my local Sprouts to purchase ingredients for this project, I was pleasantly surprised and super impressed with the store – high quality produce at amazing prices, hard-to-find fruit (including my favorite cotton candy grapes, which I could only find at Whole Foods in NYC), their own brand for staples such as cereal, granola, cocoa, and an awesome selection of organic ingredients.  I admit I wasn’t familiar with Sprouts prior to this shopping trip, but I’ll definitely be returning.

Now onto the cupcakes!

I felt red velvet, in addition to being delicious, was an obvious choice for July 4th cupcakes. I used this recipe from The New York Times and found all of my ingredients at Sprouts, including organic vanilla and natural food-coloring (I haven’t seen that sold before – score!).  I’ve used this recipe before and the cake is light and flavorful.  Full disclosure – funnily enough, the red color didn’t really take but the cupcakes did actually taste better – so they are better non-red red velvet cupcakes….net win??  For those red velvet purists, I made another batch with non-natural food coloring, ha! So take your pick :).

To me, the only frosting option for red velvet is cream cheese – no exceptions! This recipe from Allrecipes.com is my go-to – only 4 ingredients and a dense, rich end product.

As decoration and also to make decorating syrups, I bought fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries from Sprouts.  A good and simple syrup recipe is here – the syrup is necessary for firework cupcakes!

Finally, I bought some fun patriotic sprinkles from Amazon:

And these super-fun cupcake liners:

So we have our cupcakes, our frosting, fruit, and decorating sprinkles – let’s go!

Cupcake 1 – Fireworks!

  • 1 cupcake, frosted (use an offset spatula or knife to create a flat surface)
  • Fruit syrup
  • Toothpicks

Pipe the fruit syrup in a “bull’s eye” pattern.

Using a toothpick, slowly drag the frosting from the center of the cupcake to the edge in “spokes” (like a wheel) to make the firework design.

Cupcake 2 – Stars and Stripes

  • 1 cupcake, frosted (use an offset spatula or knife to create a flat surface)
  • Red and blue decorating sugars
  • 2 paper stencils 

Frost the cupcake, using an offset spatula or knife to create a flat surface.  Lay the first stencil (for the blue part of the flag) on the cupcake, and sprinkle the exposed part of the frosting with blue decorating sugar, shaking off excess. Remove the first stencil and lay the second stencil (for the flag stripes) onto the cupcake, and sprinkle with red decorating sugar, shaking off excess.

Cupcake 3 – Stars and….More Stars!

  • 1 cupcake, frosted as desired
  • Star sprinkles

Frost the cupcake as desired. Sprinkle with stars to your heart’s desire!

Cupcake 4 – Nonpareil Nosh

  • 1 cupcake, frosted as desired
  • Nonpareils

Sprinkle with nonpareils and dig in!

Cupcake 5 – Fruit Fans

  • 1 cupcake, frosted as desired
  • Fresh fruit (I used blueberries and raspberries)

Frost the cupcake as desired. Decorate with fruit – get creative!

This is just a start to get your creative juices flowing – there are an infinite number of ways to decorate cupcakes but hopefully I’ve given you a good start! Give these a try and let me know how they turn out – I’d love to see photos of your creations!