Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes are adorable multi-colored cupcakes colored with food coloring and topped with a sweet vanilla buttercream and some marshmallows for decor.
Who doesn't love a brightly colored cupcake? These cupcakes are so cute and if you need a dessert for St. Patrick's Day, the topping of the marshmallows from Lucky Charms cereal makes them the perfect dessert!
What are Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes?
These are just a vanilla on vanilla cupcake, but the batter is colored with food coloring and layered into the cupcake liner to create a rainbow of colors. The cupcakes are topped with a simple vanilla flavored buttercream and are decorated with marshmallows from Lucky Charms cereal, making them perfect for St. Patrick's Day. But if you're making them at any other time of the year, some colorful sprinkles will work just as well!
🥘 Ingredients for this recipe
- For the Cupcakes:
- all purpose flour
- baking powder
- unsalted butter
- sour cream
- vanilla extract
- food coloring (red, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple)
- For the Frosting:
- unsalted butter
- powdered sugar
- To Decorate:
- marshmallows from Lucky Charms cereal
🔪Instructions for this recipe
Start with the cupcakes!
- Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
- Then prepare the batter. Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Next, add in the eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated. Add in the vanilla and sour cream. Then whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and slowly add to the mixer, alternating with the milk.
- Next, color that batter! Divide the batter into small bowls and add in food coloring, mixing until it's the desired color.
- Finally, prepare the batter for baking. Transfer each of the colored batters into piping bags or small ziplock bags. Pipe a little bit of the batter around the bottom of the cupcake liner and spread inward to the center. Start with purple, then blue, then green, then yellow, orange and finally red on top.
- Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes. Then let cool on a wire rack.
Mix up that Frosting!
- First, beat the butter until smooth. In a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until pale yellow and smooth.
- Then, add the sugar. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, a little at a time until it's fully incorporated. Add in a pinch of salt.
- Finally, add in the wet ingredients. Add in the vanilla and milk until batter reaches the desired piping consistency.
Decorate those rainbow cupcakes!
- Once the cupcakes have cooled, transfer the frosting to a piping bag with a large star tip and pipe frosting onto the cupcakes. Top with the marshmallows from the cereal.
Items Used for this recipe
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FAQ's for great rainbow vanilla cupcakes
- What type of food coloring do you use? I used Wilton food colorings, about ⅛ teaspoon of each color that I mixed with a small spoon to get the vibrant colors I wanted.
- Why do you pipe the batter into the cupcake liner? Piping makes it easier for the color gradient to show around the edges of the cupcake. If you just spoon the batter into the liners, you run the risk of the colors spreading together or not getting enough batter at the edges, which is what you'll see first.
- What makes cupcakes light and fluffy? Making sure you don't overmix your batter! Since you are going to stir food coloring into the batter, make sure to stop mixing once there are no lumps of flour remaining. Overmixed cupcakes will be dense.
- How else can I decorate a rainbow cupcake? Airheads candy makes an extreme candy in rainbow colors that is thin like a fruit strip. This would be a great way to add a rainbow to a cupcake if you didn't have time to mix up all of the colors for the batter. Pipe two "clouds" of frosting for the edges of the rainbow to sit in.
- Can I use cake mix instead of making cupcakes from scratch? Yes, I made these cupcakes from scratch because I only wanted 12 and box mix makes 24. You'll need to double the amount of frosting for 24 cupcakes.
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Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1 ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- food coloring
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- marshmallows from Lucky Charms cereal
For the Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Then add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the sour cream and vanilla extract.
- Slowly add the flour into the stand mixer until combined.
- Divide batter into small cups, about ⅓ cup of batter in each one.
- Add food coloring, about ⅛ teaspoon of each color into each bowl and mix until fully combined and no streaks of batter remain. Add more food coloring to reach the desired color if necessary.
- Start with the purple food coloring and transfer it to a ziplock bag. Cut off a tiny bit of the corner and pipe the batter into the cupcake liner, around the edges, Gently spread into the center of the liner.
- Repeat with the blue batter, then the green, then the orange, followed by the yellow and the red. Be careful not to mix the colors together.
- Bake cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to let cool.
For the Frosting
- Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Then add in the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time until combined.
- Add in the vanilla, milk and salt.
- Transfer the frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a large start tip. Pipe the frosting on the cupcakes.
- Add marshmallows from cereal onto the frosting, along with sprinkles if desired.
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