Cupcake batter + neon food coloring + kids = one huge fun adventure (and one huge mess! :-)
When one of my classmates invited me to join her family for grocery shopping, cooking, and dinner (I know a friend knows me well when they invite me to grocery shop and cook, knowing full well that I could think of no better way to spend an afternoon in good company...), I decided to show up as a sort of chef a la Mary Poppins, toting a large shoulder bag from which I produced 2 pounds of flour, some raw sugar, my favorite recipe for vanilla cupcakes, and bottles of neon food coloring!
During the course of the afternoon, flour went one way, sugar went another, an egg landed on the floor, and I was continuously delighted with the enthusiasm of my two young co-bakers. They mixed, measured, helped me calculate how to double the recipe, and, perhaps most importantly, blended neon-colored batter with all the nimble dexterity of an abstract painter... The pure colors were dramatic in their own right, but by far the greatest success was a blend of all the colors, which, surprisingly, didn't turn out black, as I'd predicted, but rather a deep, vibrant blue! As soon as I pulled the first batch from the oven, my classmate's two kids instantly chorused: "They look like moon rocks!"
Having no authority on moon rocks myself, I gladly trusted their opinion... and was thankful to have spent an evening in the company of such uplifting creativity.
In a child's eyes, a cupcake can become the moon...
Moon Rock Cupcakes
3 cups self-rising flour 1/2 cup light vegan margarine or butter 1/2 cup applesauce 2 cups raw sugar 4 eggs 1 cup reduced fat milk or soymilk 1 tsp vanilla Any and all colors of food coloring Whipped cream or your favorite frosting
~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line approx. 12 muffin tins with paper liners. ~ In a large bowl, cream the vegan marg (or butter) and applesauce until smooth. ~ Add the sugar, and beat until fluffy. ~ Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. ~ Add the flour alternatly with the milk, beginning and ending with flour, stirring until just combined after each addition and pouring in the vanilla with the final milk addition. ~ Spoon the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling the tins a generous 3/4 full. ~ Bake for 20 to 25 minutes - until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. ~ Serve warm or cool, topped with whipped cream or frosting!