Did I ever tell you I won a bellyflop contest? My skin matched my watermelon-pattern swimsuit for hours afterwards, but I got a ribbon. Even as I collect the alphabet behind my name, it remains one of my proudest achievements. For a kid who was a lousy athlete and a clumsy dancer (though I did win 6th place in a horse show. Out of 7 riders), it was wonderful to finally be the best at something. Who cares if it was just a ridiculous 4th of July game. 4th of July always feels like an opportunity to do things completely differently than usual---with a slight sense that's how "real" Americans are supposed to do things. Put up a flag, wear the tackiest stars-and-stripes jewelry, pretend that I'd been practicing baton twirling all year, chase around a watermelon coated in Crisco, picnic in the middle of the week with real picnic food (fried chicken and potato salad instead of brie and baguettes). I love 4th of July because it feels like a big redwhiteandblue game of dress-up and it is my only chance to make trashy food from boxes and feel OK about it.
So I clipped this recipe from a junky housewife magazine. I do not think it was targeted to us blue state womyn. (Alas, you can never get a farmer's tan if you have to wear a polar fleece all summer.) I have been saving it for the moment I had enough energy to add eggs to a mix. Both cupcakes and Jell-O shots are childish shortcuts to getting things done (no offense to cupcake enthusiasts). Seemed like a fitting treat for the celebration of the U.S. of A. I adapted the recipe to make it patriotic and better.
Red White and Blue Jell-O Shot Cupcakes
- 1 box Pillsbury Stars and Stripes Funfetti® Cake Mix (you could also red and blue jimmies to white cake mix)
- 1 C milk
- 1/3 C melted butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 pkg red Jell-O (cherry or strawberry. I did cherry)
- 1 C boiling water
- 3/4 C rum, tequila, or vodka (OK grain alcohol would seem more American, but I went rum and here's why)
- 1 C butter, softened
- 3 1/2 C powdered sugar
- 1 tsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- blue food coloring
Bake the cupcakes as directed on the box, subbing in the butter for the oil, and the milk for the water, and adding in the lemon juice. Bake in lined cupcake tins 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Mix the boiling water and the Jell-O in a bowl until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the alcohol. Let chill in the fridge until partially firm, about 35-45 minutes.
Using a knife, cut out a chunk (1 1/4" in diameter and 3/4" thick) from the top of each cupcake. Reserve pieces. Spoon about 2 tsp of Jell-O into the indentation. Cover with reserved cake pieces. If you like, you can drizzle extra liquor over the cupcakes. Top with frosting and sprinkles. Chill in the fridge until set.
Beat butter, sugar and salt in a bowl until well blended. Add vanilla, milk, and coloring and beat 3-5 more minutes until creamy.