A couple of weeks ago, we were suffering from a bit of a mini drought. It was kind of nice because it was while my sis was here, so we were able to do lots of things outdoors, but it’s also scary. The island has very, very limited fresh water supply, so the majority of homes and businesses have cisterns under them to catch the rainwater. We are fortunate to have a huge supply of water in our cisterns, but even we were getting low from the lack of rain. Then, on the day my sister flew home, we finally got a nice big storm. As the wind and rain were dying down, I noticed the sun start shining. It was still raining a bit, so when I looked out the window, I saw the most beautiful rainbow stretching over our home!
It was a lovely, bright, full rainbow that we could see from end to end. Our house is situated on a high hilltop and you could see where the rainbow dropped down into the trees on both sides of the house! It was gorgeous and if the terrain weren’t so rough, we would have been on the hunt for the elusive pot of gold! As it is, the valleys around our home are quite steep, and very undeveloped, so we were content just to look and speculate. It was an exciting moment for our boy, who has never seen the end of a rainbow (let alone both ends). For my husband and myself, it spurred stories of each of our times seeing the end of a rainbow. We’ve both seen them once each, and I loved both of our stories.
My husband’s story takes place on a Coast Guard cutter in the Bering Sea. He was still quite young and very early in his career. It was a particularly stormy day when suddenly a patch of clouds opened up to let sunlight stream down to the water. Over the sea a rainbow formed, hitting the water at the end. My husband said that where the rainbow hit the water, you could still see the colors that the sun’s light was creating on top of the water. He said it made it easy to believe in magic when he saw how beautiful it was. Now I want to see a rainbow out to sea! I want to dive in and see it from below. Then I want to swim down and see if there are mermaids dancing in the colors.
My end of the rainbow takes place on land, but I got much closer to the pot of gold than he did. When I was a girl, I used to spend each summer away at camp. One year, while we were all sitting down to eat, it began raining and a huge rainbow formed over the top of the mess hall. You could see one end out the front windows, hitting the ground far, far away in the trees. The other end was visible through the back window, landing in the middle of the grass behind the building. A few of us who had finished eating ventured out to see the rainbow, and maybe share some gold. 🙂 It was amazing how huge the rainbow was, stretching at least ten feet wide. No matter how hard we tried, or how fast we ran though, we couldn’t get through it. The closest we could get was within two feet or so. After that, each step we took drove the rainbow further away. No wonder they say that a leprechaun’s gold will disappear once you have it! We stuck our arms out, though, and reached through to the other side. That was a magical moment that I’ve never forgotten, and our newest end of the rainbow experience, along with our memories and stories, is what inspired today’s post.
These rainbows and pots of gold are easy to catch, but they’re just as sure to disappear as leprechaun gold! I had the most fun making these, and the end result had me smiling all day! These have to be the happiest cupcakes I’ve ever made!
I made the rainbows out of sweet cookies and filled rich chocolate cupcakes with shiny gold to hold the rainbows up. They’re a perfect treat for St. Patrick’s Day and will be sure to bring more treasure, in the form of lots of happy smiles!
For the rainbows, I made one of my favorite chocolate cookies (recipe linked below) and got creative with my cutters. I don’t have a rainbow cookie cutter, so I improvised. I used a small flower cutter to form the cloud of my rainbow cookies. Next, I used a large round cutter to cut a large circle to act as the rainbow. To give it the rainbow shape, I used my smallest round cutter to cut an offset circle from the rainbow, making an exaggerated crescent shape. Finally, I used my flower cutter again to cut one end of the crescent off, so that it could be lined up with one of the “clouds.”
I also decided to use a mini shamrock cookie cutter (mine is from Pampered Chef’s Creative Cutters set) to make a few little shamrocks. I stuck toothpicks into the shamrocks so that they could be stuck into cupcakes too. If I had been making these for little ones, I would have used lollipop sticks instead of toothpicks, for safety reasons.
My pretty rainbow colored icings. I ran out of red food coloring, so I made a lovely bright pink instead. I actually think I prefer it to red. I also made extra green so that I had enough to ice the shamrocks.
Now it’s time to put the rainbows on. Honestly, you can use any colors you like, in any order you want, but if you want a “traditional” rainbow, the color order will be red (pink, in my case), orange, yellow, green, and blue. If you have the room, you can also add indigo and violet, but I didn’t quite have enough room for all of the colors. Plus, I thought they looked less busy this way.
When I iced the shamrock cookies, I decided they would look pretty with just a little something extra, so I coated them in green sanding sugar. I love the deep color they get from the sugar, and the sparkles are very festive. Now, while all of the cookies dry, it’s time to bake the cupcakes.
I was excited to have another opportunity to use my mini ball pan. I got to use this for my Cauldron Cakes that I made in celebration of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1, and also during the Christmas season for Christmas Pudding Cupcakes. I love this pan. The cakes that come out are so fun and versatile. Plus, it’s just perfect for a cauldron-like cake.
Once again using steps from my Cauldron Cakes for inspiration, I dipped each of the cakes in chocolate before sitting them atop whole chocolate chips.
For the shimmery riches at the end of my rainbow cookies, I used Wilton pearlized sugar in gold. This sugar is large and crunchy, but not hard like sugar pearls.
Once you have the little feet attached to the cakes, place a small swirl or little blob of frosting (recipe below) in the center of each cake. Immediately dip each of the little mounds of frosting into the gold sugar. Admittedly, it’s very *ahem* unappealing looking at first, but once it’s coated in gold, it’s lovely. Now pipe another ring of chocolate frosting around the gold to enclose it into the “pot.” Finally, insert the pointed end of a rainbow into each of the cupcakes, making sure to get the cookie through the frosting and down into the cupcake a bit for more stability. If you made any shamrocks, pop those little babies into a few of the pots of gold too.
I know I said it already, but I really had the most fun making these! I love how bright and cheery, how whimsical they are. They’re a little more work than a lot of my recipes, but they’re so worth it, and they’re still on the easy end of the spectrum. To make them even easier, the cookie dough can be made ahead of time and frozen until ready to use. The frostings, as well, can each be made a day or two early.
Make people happy, give them a sweet pot of gold and a smile for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy!
End O’ the Rainbow Cupcakes
Makes about 3 dozen
1 recipe Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (if you don’t want these vegan, use real butter, regular milk, and replace the apple sauce with 3 eggs)
1 recipe chocolate cookie dough from Shamrock Blarney Cookies (for vegan/dairy-free version, use margarine and 1/4 cup applesauce instead of 1 egg)
1 recipe Sweet Cookie Icing with almond extract (for vegan/dairy-free version, use soy or almond milk)
Chocolate Almond Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (margarine for vegan/dairy-free)
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
1 /2 to 2/3 cup milk (soy or almond for vegan/dairy-free)
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Prepare the cupcakes as directed in the recipe. For the cookies, once they’re mixed, cover them and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll and cut as directed above. Bake according to the recipe. Prepare the icing as directed int he recipe.
To make the buttercream: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and beat until thoroughly combined. Alternate adding the sugar and milk until both are fully incorporated. Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Beat the mixture well until light and fluffy.
Assemble and decorate as directed above.
Recipes by Darla