Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Whenever I make cupcakes, I realize why they've remained so popular. Like donuts, they are such cheerful little things!  They conjure up bake sales and children's birthday parties. They're a forum for colorful sprinkles and other fun embellishments and decorations.  It's a personal mini cake just for you, and you can have more than one if you want to - it's hard not to love all that!
So maybe I should make cupcakes more often.  Right now, I'm "auditioning" this latest batch of vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my son's birthday next month.  He's turning 12!  That's amazing because it seems like only yesterday when I was carrying him around in a baby carrier and tucking a blanket around him in his car seat.  Now, that baby is growing more and more independent and I can almost see clues of the adult he's going to become.  
Everyone's birthday is special, and I think that's especially the case when it comes to kids.  We're always trying to find some extra little ways to show our love, especially on their big day.  For me, food is a part of that.  Now, to be honest, my son would likely choose pizza and a classic store-bought ice cream cake for his day. I'm totally okay with that (those being things I love best as a kid, too)...but that doesn't stop me from making a little something extra - it might be a cake or cupcakes, something that I can put my imprint on and personalize.
So while I've got a lot of things in the archives I can make already, I thought it was a good time to audition another cupcake recipe.  This is a recipe from Jessica Seinfeld's new book, Food Swings; the cupcakes sounded easy to make and lovely to eat. Verdict: they passed their audition with flying colors!  

The vanilla cupcakes are rich in flavor, moist and tender, yet firm enough that you can eat with your hands without them falling apart.  The frosting is smooth and creamy, full of chocolate flavor.  I used to say I'm not a big frosting person but I've had to re-evaluate that claim because I'm not so sure it's true anymore - at least not when it comes to chocolate frosting! 
My son is certainly a frosting person and he was readily licking this frosting off! These cupcakes go down easy.  I know I often say that about desserts I like but it's really true and the best way I can think of to describe it sometimes.  So the upcoming birthday boy was a fan and so was everyone else eating it.  If you have a birthday coming up and you're looking for a good cupcake recipe to make - one that's great tasting and uncomplicated, I can say these are an excellent choice.
As my son was devouring the last of these cupcakes, he asked me if I'd make them again soon.  You know what?  He just might see them again next month!


I'm coming off a cupcake "high" since the last ones I made were the ultimate chocolate cupcakes, which were insanely, memorably, delicious!  These vanilla cupcakes were able to hold their own and I certainly appreciate how much easier they are to whip up.
The basics of this cupcake: the creaming method with butter, sugar, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and the dry ingredients.  It's fun to break out the colorful cupcake liners for vanilla cupcakes.
The cupcakes rise with a relatively flat top when done.  I have to admit that half of my dozen sunk slightly as they cooled; I think I could have kept them in the oven for another minute but fear of over-baking (as well as over-mixing) is very real and constant.  All in all, the nice flat tops make a great base for the frosting.  And speaking of the frosting...
...it's dreamy.  Butter whipped with some confectioners' sugar, flavored with melted chocolate and a touch of vanilla extract.  You end up with a very smooth and silky chocolate frosting.  
I had a lot of fun just placing a big dollop of frosting on top of each cupcake, taking my small offset spatula to it and doing a little spread and swirl.  There's something very nice about a rustic frosting applied without piping bag or pastry tip.  I could look at these simple cupcakes all day.
And because I find it hard to resist the call of the colorful nonpareil sprinkles (you know it's all about the sprinkles!), I had to shake some over a few.  I adore them! 
Onto a cake stand or placed on a plate, they cupcakes are fun to look at and delicious to eat.  It feels like a celebration even when it's no one's birthday and you're eating it on an average Tuesday.
I know you can easily buy a cupcake, or a dozen, without breaking the bank, but there is something special about homemade and they really do usually taste better. And eating a cupcake with your hands, you can't help but feel like a kid again (unless you're actually a kid, of course! : )

Recipe:

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Food Swings by Jessica Seinfeld

- Makes 12 cupcakes - 

For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs

For the frosting:
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack placed in the center position.  Line a standard muffin tin with 12 paper liners.  

Make cupcakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Place buttermilk into a measuring cup and add the vanilla extract.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy.  Add sugar, beat for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, as needed.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  

With the mixer on low, gradually add half the dry ingredients.  Add the buttermilk mixture, then the remaining dry ingredients.  Beat until just incorporated.  

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Let cupcakes cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove them from the pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make frosting: Melt the chocolate chips with the instant espresso powder (if using) in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (you can also use the microwave, taking care to do it in increment so as not to overheat and possibly burn the chocolate).  Let cool, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is cool but still pourable.

Beat butter and confectioners' sugar together in a stand mixer on medium speed until fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add the melted chocolate.  Mix until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, add the vanilla extract, and beat until combined.

Finish by frosting the cupcakes with a small offset spatula.  




36 comments:

  1. Sprinkles makes everything fun for sure. Your boy knows how to live as this frosting sounds amazing. You can tell just by the picture you have one in half this is a light and delicious spongy cupcake. Wishing you a super weekend!

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    1. Yes, totally light and moist and that creamy chocolate frosting doesn't hurt. ; )

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  2. They look marvelous with that tender and smooth crumb. You did an excellent job, Monica.

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  3. That photo of the frosting is one of the yummiest things I've seen in a long time! You've certainly tempted me with those cupcakes.

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    1. haha! Yes, that creamy frosting was really hard to resist.

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  4. They look wonderful, your son will love it for his birthday!

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    1. He did enjoy these a lot and I don't think he'd mind seeing it again next month. Have a great week!

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  5. I can see why these could be a monthly treat at your house. These cupcakes look perfect!

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    1. It's almost too bad there are so many good things to eat. We need more time and space. ; )

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  6. Cupcakes are always a favorite around here and it's been too long since we've made them. Seeing these yummy vanilla ones are definitely making me want to get in the kitchen and bake some up. They look perfect, Monica! Love the chocolate frosting and the pretty sprinkles!

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    1. I'm sure your kiddos are surrounded by good eats at your house, Kelly. I've been having fun making cupcakes. Sprinkles always do make me smile. : )

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  7. Time flies quickly, especially when we are mum... :-))
    I like to read the story that includes every recipe, I think it's nice to add your personal touch to your son's birthday cake. I am cupcakes and frosting person and this great classic vanilla & chocolate is undoubtedly a pure delight. These are wonderful.
    Have a great week :)

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    1. Time goes faster when you're older and I think with kids, it's even more so. Having a sweet treat is a nice thing on a person's birthday, isn't it?! Love the candles and all the hoopla.

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  8. I loveee a good vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting! Something about that classic combo! And if they passed the audition then we know they have to be good! :) Hope you had a great weekend Monica!

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    1. I think the vanilla and chocolate just highlight each other so the chocolate is more chocolaty and the vanilla is more vanilla-y?! haha

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  9. Wow! 12 years old, time certainly flies doesn't it? these cupcakes look wonderful Monica, love the choc/vanilla combo and of course the sprinkles.

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    1. I can hardly believe it, Cheri! Let's enjoy the easy moments and enjoy as many cupcakes with sprinkles as we want. ; )

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  10. Beautiful cupcakes, I haven't made any cupcakes or muffins in a while, these pictures make me crave them again. :) And time does go by too fast, my son is turning 9 this year and I feel like I was just pregnant with him...

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    1. Thanks so much, Adina! I know exactly what you mean...I remember having him like it was yesterday.

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  11. These cupcakes look super delicious. Love the chocolate frosting on vanilla cup cake. This is a must try for me. Yum Yum :)

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    1. Hope you make a batch soon, thanks!

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  12. Cupcakes do have a way of just cheering you up and making you happy! I love these - this is my favorite cupcake combo!

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    1. So true, isn't it? I love going to the bakeries and eyeing all the colorful cupcakes and treats. That is a big mood booster. haha

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  13. Simple yet delicious! I love anything with chocolate!

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    1. I'm with you on the chocolate! ; )

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  14. Vanilla cupcakes are the best — simple and delish. Love how moist and fluffy they look. And that chocolate frosting is just so good, nothing can't beat the chocolaty stuff. :)

    Anu
    http://www.mygingergarlickitchen.com/

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    1. I agree, can't beat the chocolaty stuff!! haha

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  15. I bet your son loved these - because I know I would. The frosting looks perfect - so silky and the cupcakes sound fantastic. Another amazing post Monica! Thanks for sharing - we need more cupcakes in our lives :)

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    1. So true. Cupcakes and treats put smiles on everyone's faces, I think! Thank you, Tricia. Hope you are relaxing and having a good day!

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  16. That chocolate frosting looks absolutely perfect! I could just eat several of these right now!

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    1. I hear you...is it me or cupcakes seem smaller and smaller...a few goes down rather easily! ; )

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  17. Oh Monica, the cupcakes look so perfect...the crumb so delicate...nothing like vanilla cupcakes topped with chocolate frosting...cute with the sprinkles. Thanks for the recipe!
    Enjoy the rest of your week :)

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  18. Happy birthday to your son! He’s the same age as the kids I teach here in Boston (: You can’t go wrong with cupcakes, and the chocolate frosting with sprinkles look amazing~

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    1. Oh wow, Monica! You have your work cut out for you. : ) I'm sure you're a great teacher, and we really appreciate good teachers here! Wish I could send you some cupcakes.

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