Introduction: Katniss Spicy Red Velvet Hunger Games Cupcakes

“The Hunger Games” is a sensational trilogy about a dystopian United States that holds a gladiator-style fight to the death in a futuristic murder arena complete with hybrid creatures, force fields, and cameras to broadcast the carnage into every home with a television set. The participants in those Games? They’re children between 12 and 18. This is teen reading at its finest: think Lord of the Flies meets Twilight meets Spartacus.

The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is a headstrong, bow-hunting, coal mine girl who poaches local game and sells it to support her family.  She voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games.  She becomes known as "The Girl on Fire" after she wore a specially designed outfit that made her look like she was on fire.  She is a fearless fighter, and deserves to be honored with a cupcake.

Her cupcake is spicy and a little bit wild.  Firm, feminine, and fiery.  A dangerous cupcake.

Step 1: Ingredients

For the cake:

-  3 1/2 cups cake flour
-  3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-  2 1/2 cups sugar
-  3 eggs, at room temperature
-  3 tablespoons red food coloring
-  3 tablespoons cocoa powder
-  1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-  1 1/2 teaspoon salt
-  1 1/2 cups milk
-  1 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
-  1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-  3 tablespoons cayenne pepper

For the frosting:

-  12 ounces cream cheese
-  1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
-  2 cups powdered sugar
-  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-  red food coloring
-  yellow food coloring

For the chocolate mockingjay:

- chocolate chips, melted

Step 2:

-  Preheat the oven to 350°F.
-  Sift the cake flour into a bowl and set aside.
-  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy - about 5 minutes.
-  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.
-  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.
-  In a small bowl, whisk together the food coloring, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.

Step 3:

-  In a separate bowl, stir the salt into the milk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the cake flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are well incorporated.
-  In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well.
-  Add the cayenne pepper and mix.
-  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the ingredients are well incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Step 4:

-  Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins - about 2/3 full.
-  Bake one pan at a time on the center rack for 15 minutes.
-  Test the cupcakes with a toothpick - insert a toothpick through the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are done! If not, leave the cupcakes in the oven for another minute and toothpick test again.
-  Cool cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes.
-  Remove cupcakes from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

Step 5: Fire Frosting

-  Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together on medium speed until smooth.
-  Add the sugar, and beat on low speed until incorporated.
-  Increase the speed to medium and mix until light and fluffy.
-  Add red and yellow food coloring a couple of drops at a time until you get the orange color you want.
-  Using a piping bag and #18 piping tip, pipe each flame - hold the pastry bag straight up, squeeze the bag while lifting up, stop, and release. Repeat until the top of the cupcake is covered in frosting "flames."

Step 6: Chocolate Mockingjay

-  Melt chocolate chips in a piping bag.  Be careful - the chocolate will be hot.
-  Pipe out the design you want onto a piece of parchment paper.
-  Cool the chocolate in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
-  Carefully peel the chocolate off the parchment paper and place chocolate on cupcake.

*** NOTE: Make sure your chocolate design is thick.  Mine were a little too thin and collapsed after several minutes.  It also didn't help that it was a hot day.

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