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GREAT INDOORS: Easy, championship-worthy Minnesota Viking cupcakes

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Minnesota Viking cupcakes use candy for horns and braids. Alexandra Floersch / Forum News Service2 / 2

FARGO — The football season is at last upon us and while the most popular foods to nosh on while watching the game might be pizza, beer and Buffalo wings, who says you can't enjoy a sweet, decadent, football-themed cupcake for dessert?

In fact, not only is it a way to treat yourself, it's actually a smart thing to do. Norwegian researchers Dr. Arnold Berstad and Dr. Jorgen Valeur (Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital, Oslo) found eating something sweet after a big meal actually aides digestion. Woo hoo! Now that is something to cheer about.

With that in mind, I set out to find an easy way to celebrate sweets and the sport we all love. Because I live in Minnesota, I was inspired to make fan-favorite Minnesota Vikings-themed cupcakes. I saw some adorable ones on Pinterest, but I wanted to do something a little different — shake things up a bit. I looked no further than the candy aisles of my local grocery store for inspiration. I figured if I'd braid banana Laffy Taffy it might look like Viking hair and if I de-yellowfied banana Runt candy it would look like horns.

When I thought about flavors, I wondered what went well with banana and, of course, it had to be peanut butter. Elvis Presley — a big football fan — (the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns were among his favorite teams) enjoyed peanut butter and banana with bacon.

But I wanted a winning-recipe so I decided to take the lead from a championship team. New England is home to the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, of course, but it's also the birthplace of the Fluffernutter, a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich on white bread. So I settled upon a peanut butter cupcake I found on Food Fanatic. I tweaked it a bit with marshmallow filling, purple vanilla buttercream frosting and Minnesota Viking decorations. The most time-consuming part was prepping the candy decorations. Still, this only took minutes. (Watch the video we made to see how to do it.) The cupcakes are super easy and yummy.

Minnesota Vikings Cupcakes

Serves: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix

Ingredients for cake including oil, water and eggs

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tub of purple frosting (I used Pillsbury Funfetti Bold Purple Vanilla)

Mini marshmallows

White candy sprinkles

1 (18-ounce) bag of assorted Laffy Taffys — only grape and banana needed

Runts candies — just banana needed*

*You can also make horns out of white almond bark covered pretzels or cashews

Directions:

Start by prepping the candy that will be used for decoration on the cupcakes. Pick out the banana candies from the Runts' box. Soak all of them in a bowl of hot water for about 1 minute or until the candies turn from yellow to white. Let dry on a paper towel; set aside. Remove wrappers of six or seven banana Laffy Taffy and two grape-flavored Laffy Taffy.

Roll out one long rope from each piece of banana taffy. Cut the rope into three equal pieces and braid; set aside. Repeat with all of the pieces of taffy. Cut grape taffy into small (½ inch), individual pieces. Set aside. (Watch the video to see how we made the candy decorations.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, water, oil, eggs and peanut butter. Beat until well-blended. Line two regular-sized muffin pans with paper liners. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and the tops of cupcakes spring back when pressed with a finger. Cool in pans for about 2 minutes before pushing two or three mini marshmallows into the center of the cupcakes. Let cool completely.

Once cooled, frost the edges of the cupcake then roll edges in white candy sprinkles. Then frost the rest of the cupcake's top. Add horns and braids. Use the grape taffy to top the braids.

Skol, Vikings!

Recipe altered from Food Fanatic.

Tracy Briggs

‘The Great Indoors’ with Tracy Briggs appears every Thursday in The Forum. For more information go to her blog at thegreatindoors.areavoices.com.

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