Neapolitan refers to all things Naples, Italy. Marinara sauce, a romance language, and a very large dog to name a few. But when I think of Neapolitan, ice cream comes to mind.
A carton of Neapolitan ice cream could usually be found in the freezer of my childhood home. Neapolitan would typically win the “If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could only bring one flavor of ice cream, what would it be?” game. I liked to choose mint chocolate chip, but my mother pointed out Neapolitan provided three flavors in place of one. It was hard to argue with logic like that.
These Neapolitan cupcakes are made with one cake batter divided into three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry. Wait a second, raspberry? Isn’t the pink stripe in Neapolitan strawberry? Typically, yes. Though historically, raspberry was also a reasonable flavor. I did not have strawberries on hand, but I did have a bottle of raspberry extract. So, raspberry flavor went into the cakes.
A bottle of raspberry extract was one of the first gifts someone very close gave me at the beginning of our courting. “That’s odd,” I thought at the time. “Sweet, but odd.” Looking back, it strikes me how things so ingrained into your being can be seen as unique to someone else. It never occurred to me that baking could be seen as a hobby, or even a luxurious treat, to someone else. It was simply something I enjoyed. Besides, I had to eat!
To make the cupcakes, I used one cake batter divided into thirds and flavored and layered accordingly. To further simplify the task, layer the vanilla batter in first, then divide the remaining batter just once to flavor and layer the chocolate and raspberry. Or omit the raspberry altogether and make black and white cupcakes like the infamous black and white cookies. Another way to incorporate all three flavors is to layer two batters and frost the cupcakes with the third flavor. The options abound, so suit yourself.
When the cupcakes came out of the oven, my companion immediately asked, “Can I have one?” Of course. My companion-turned-tester remarked how truly wonderful it was to eat something freshly baked and just out of the oven and suggested I write about that experience. I was to take the opportunity to really encourage people to take a little time to bake, because eating a fresh baked good was good for the palette and the spirt. And not only does the baker reap the reward, but the people the baker cares about do to.
Have a lovely weekend!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
- ¾ granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons raspberry extract
- red or pink gel food color
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and the sugar together.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the milk and the vanilla.
- Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until well incorporated.
- Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and fill each well with a scant tablespoon of vanilla batter.
- Divide the remaining batter in half and add the cocoa powder to half and the raspberry to the other half. Mix well, adding a small amount of red or pink gel food color to the raspberry flavored batter.
- Layer the remaining chocolate and raspberry batters over the vanilla to create a three-layered cupcake.
- Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Beat ½ cup butter and the confectioners’ sugar until combined.
- Add the vanilla and beat at high speed until the icing is light and fluffy.