Twinkling Good Cupcakes: fruit fillings PLUS bonus bubble sugar demo!

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I adore my small-town Vermont life, I really do. Every week, every season has some special occasion or event that reminds me of how nice it is to live where just like that famous fictional Boston bar, “everybody knows your name.”

One of my very favorite times of year in our town is the 4th of July. Rain or shine, we have a parade complete with kids on bikes, antique cars, firetrucks, stilt walkers in homemade costumes, and a community band. My eyes always tear up a little as I wave to former students of mine, now all grown up and riding floats. I’m delighted when someone recognizes me and yells, “Hi Mrs. Robbins!” often complete with a handful of candy tossed our way.  My, my, they’ve grown so much!

Once the big logging trucks appear, it’s time to run over to join the line for the chicken barbecue. If you wait until the trucks pass, you may be too late – and this is chicken you don’t want to miss .

After we’re full of BBQ, we head home until dusk. Around 7 p.m. we drive over to the golf course and find our favorite spot just off of the cart path. We meet up with friends, slap on the bug dope, and break out the sparklers. Several years ago we started the tradition of bringing dessert to share. We’ve brought ice cream, brownies, and cookies before, but this year I have big plans to impress with these delicious Twinkling Good cupcakes, complete with their show-stopping “bubble sugar” on top.

To make sure you have enough time to make these for your party, I’ll stop yappin’ and start bakin’. Let’s make Twinkling Good Cupcakes.

Begin by whipping 7 large egg whites to stiff peaks; reserve the yolks, you’ll use them in a minute. The whites shouldn’t be dry, and will hold up in a mass if you lift the beater. Set the whites aside in a clean bowl while you make the rest of the batter.

Add to the mixing bowl
• 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 3/4 cup cold water
• 7 unbeaten egg yolks
• 1 teaspoon Princess Cake and Cookie Flavoring, for true snack cake taste; OR 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat on medium speed until thick and smooth.

By thirds, fold in the beaten whites. Use a gentle hand to keep as much air in the mixture as you can.

After the third addition of whites the batter will be light and spongy. Divide the batter evenly into paper lined cupcake tins. You should get about 18 to 20, depending on size.

Bake until the cupcakes are very lightly browned and spring back to the touch. They’ll be quite domed, but will settle some as they cool.

The interior of the cupcakes will be delicate and full of tiny holes. Not surprisingly, they weigh next to nothing – until you fill them.

To make a traditional cooked flour filling, whisk together 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and 1/2 cup milk in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.

Stir constantly until the mixture forms a thick paste.  Remove from the heat, let cool for a minute, then stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Transfer the paste to a bowl and cover directly with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to cool completely.

Because it’s fresh berry season here in Vermont, I decided to jazz up the plain filling with some fresh blueberries and strawberries. I used blueberries first, then repeated the steps with strawberries.

First, purée about 1/2 cup of fresh berries in a food processor or blender with 1/4 cup of sugar.

Proceeding with the regular recipe in your mixer, add  2 tablespoons  of the shortening and 2 tablespoons of the  butter and mix well.

Add half of the cooled flour paste.

Whip on high speed until light and fluffy.

Repeat all the steps with fresh strawberries to yield two half batches of fresh fruit filling: one blueberry, one strawberry.

Place the fillings into disposable pastry bags equipped with large-opening tips. Here I’m using one star tip, and one round tip. The size doesn’t really matter, as long as it allows the filling to flow easily.

To fill the cupcakes, insert the tip of the bag into the center of the cupcake. Gently squeeze in about a tablespoon of filling. If you hold the cupcake in your hand, you can feel it expanding and you’ll have a sense of when it’s full enough.

Stop squeezing and remove the tip from the cupcake. You can either pipe the same filling over the hole, or leave the little squirp of filling exposed, à la real Twinkies.

For this cupcake, I piped in the blueberry filling and covered with strawberry. Frank, our pastry chef, came up with the idea for a “surprise” filling that was different from the topping. Thank, Frank!

Here’s the same idea in reverse. Strawberry filled, blueberry topped. YUM!

********BONUS*******BONUS**********BONUS********BONUS********

Looking for a fast, easy way to jazz up your cupcakes? Try Bubble Sugar!

Start by crunching up a piece of parchment paper in your hand. You’re looking to make lots of wrinkles in the paper.

Smooth the paper out in a half sheet pan with a lip. Leave some texture, though.

Heat 1/2 cup water with 3/4 cup sugar plus 1 1/2  tablespoons corn syrup over medium-high heat, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Continue to cook the sugar solution without stirring until it reaches 315°F. The sugar will go from clear to a very light amber color.

While the sugar is heating, spread 2 tablespoon of clear liquor over the parchment. I used vodka; definitely not top shelf, just plain ol’ bar vodka.

Because I was making these cupcakes with a patriotic theme, I colored the vodka with red and blue gel paste food coloring.

Note to self:  Use a brush to spread the colors next time.

When the sugar reaches temperature, slightly tilt the pan and let the hot sugar run in slow drizzles down the pan.

As the sugar hits the alcohol, it will bubble and fizz. If your alcohol is colored, you’ll get great swirls and blending of color with the plain sugar. Check out those funky bubbles!

If you want to create a few more swirls to blend colors, you can carefully use a toothpick to mix. Keep in mind that the more you mix, the fewer bubbles you’ll end up with.

Set the sugar aside to cool completely. You can then lift it from the parchment and hold it up to the light while you giggle in delight. WOW! I can’t believe how easy this edible art is!

Break the sugar into shards. You can wedge them into filled cupcakes for a really spectacular fireworks display of your own. (Keep in mind the sharp sugar edges if you’re serving kids).

If you want to skip the food coloring, you can still use the plain vodka and then sprinkle your favorite colored sugar on the hot sheet of syrup. Quick and fancy!

I hope you enjoy these Twinkling Good Cupcakes for your next picnic, with or without the bubble sugar. They’re an All-American treat straight from your home and heart.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Twinkling Good Vanilla Snack Cakes.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. sandra Alicante

    Wow, very posh! They look lovely, maybe I shall make some for my birthday next week. (No chance of hubby doing it!) I’m thinking of chocolate cakes, mint filling and crushed mints in the bubbled sugar….
    That sounds outstanding Sandra. I hope you have a great birthday. If your honey won’t bake, maybe he’ll do the dishes! ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. catieartist

    These look delicious! I wondered how one could mimic these without wheat. What recipe would work best for the cakes, using the Princess flavoring, and if one wanted a vanilla filling, would you use the old fashioned “gravy frosting” or “mock whipped cream” one? It is cooked flour/water too, then cooled, sugared and whipped. And if one couldn’t thicken with wheat flour, what is the best substitute?
    I like the idea of a stabilized fruit filling that would hold well.

    Your friends will be wowed! Have a great fourth weekend!
    Catie
    Hi Catie,
    I’d say use your favorite vanilla GF cupcake recipe, and a marshmallow based filling. It will be light and fluffy without the wheat flour. A Whoopie pie filling would work well. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. faddiss

    No vodka or any strong liquor allowed around here is that necessary to make it work?
    If you leave out the vodka or liquor, you’ll end up with a basic hard candy, but no big bubbles. It will still be very pretty, so I’d say go for it. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. erinhibshman

    Yummy! I have made the Twinkling Good Cupcakes before (but used vanilla extract – still delicious!), but have never tried the bubbling sugar! I know what I am going to do today – try this out!! I am supposed to bring homemade soft pretzels to the annual July 4th Crab Fest, but I may have to make a bonus batch of cupcakes to show off the bubbling sugar! Thanks for a great tutorial!!
    You Go Girl! You’ll be queen of the CrabFest! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. kstoker1

    Amazing sugar shards! This recipe is going to quickly become a favorite for decorating!! As always, thanks King Arthur (oh, and MaryJane, I loved the patriotic fingers!!). :)
    Tee hee hee. My fingers are nothing compared to our bathtub. My 16 year old daughter dyed her hair purple, along with my tub, numerous towels, her ears, the cat… pretty much everything she touched for days! I’ll take red and blue fingers over that any day! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. barbr1

    Just making the sugar now, can’t wait to bring these to my sisters tomorrow! They look amazing, I hope mine turns out as good as yours.. Any chance of that Twinkie baking pan coming back?
    Happy 4th KAF
    Barbara from Long Island,NY
    Sorry Barb, it’s been discontinued for about two years now. Amazon and this website do carry something similar however! Good luck :) ~Jessica@KAF

    Reply
  7. andreagail18

    I have special red, white and blue cupcake papers that I ordered from KA some weeks ago. This recipe is just the kind of cupcake that I had hoped to make to use them.
    It will be so much fun to bring these to our gathering on Monday.
    Thank you Kin Arthur!

    Reply
  8. screamingmadre

    These look so cool–I’d like to make them for the 4th–does the alcohol in the vodka cook away with the heat of the sugar? If not, I know which party to NOT make the bubble sugar topping. Have a great holiday!

    I’d assume it does. But if someone is truly allergic to alcohol, best not to risk it… PJH

    Reply
  9. aaronatthedoublef

    These look great and my kids will really enjoy the bubble sugar will (the adults probably will too).

    If I make the flour/milk paste filling without the sweet berries can I add sugar to sweeten it? Or are the milk and vanilla enough?

    Thanks

    There’s 1/4 cup sugar in each of the suggested berry fillings; 1/2 cup if you make the entire batch of filling. You’d want to leave the amount of sugar just as written, OK? Enjoy- PJH

    Reply
  10. lishy

    I made these with just blueberry filling, and made the sugar too. They are amazing, and none are left. They looked so impressive in the patriotic muffin papers on a giant white platter with the highest sugar shards in the middle cupcake. Gorgeous easy and incredibly tasty! Thank you for a great set of recipes that will all be made again often!

    Reply
  11. dryvem

    How far in advance can the sugar shards be made?
    You can do them several days ahead of time, as long as they stay cool and dry. Humidity is a killer to any kind of sugar work. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. rnecor

    can the sugar shards be refrigerated or frozen?
    Unfortunately the moisture level in the refrigerator and freezer are too high for storing this type of candy. The best way to store them somewhere cool and dry in an airtight bag or container. ~Amy

    Reply
  13. sheri

    There isn’t a mention of what temperature to heat the oven to or for how long to bake the cupcakes. Would 350F for about 15 min work? Thanks!
    Hi Sheri,
    In the sidebar of the recipe, you’ll see the directions for baking as cupcakes: To make snack cakes as cupcakes, prepare cupcake pans with cooking spray. Baking time will increase to 15-18 minutes. Cool and fill as directed. The bake time for the recipe is 350°F. Hope this helps. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. ISLANDGIRL513

    I made these last night and the recipe makes 28 in standard cupcake/muffin pan. Baking time at 350degrees is 10-11 minutes. My oven is calibrated correctly. I baked one pan at time. I had to make a double batch of the filling for all otherwise there wouldn’t be enough if I did just a single batch of the filling.

    Took these to work and they disappeared in no time!

    Reply
  15. gobluem82

    To what extent do you think the appearance of the bubble sugar would suffer if it were poured out onto a silicone baking mat instead of parchment paper?
    Hi there,
    It would be just fine to use a silicone mat, but you’d be able to see a faint waffle texture in the sugar is your mat is textured. It could add another cool element to the sugar, if you ask me. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  16. Tara

    Hi,

    I’m planning to bake these cupcake one day in advance & store in airtight containers @ room temp. Will the sugar shards spoil? Thanks…
    Hi Tara,
    You can make the cupcakes ahead of time, but try to make the sugar the same day you are serving for the best results. ~ MaryJane

    Reply

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