A confession: I don't like buttercream. I love whipped cream, I adore ganache, but to me butterream just tastes like a mouthful of crusty, overly sweet, powdered sugar. I usually scrape the buttercream off my cake. Cupcakes in particular highlight everything that's wrong with buttercream: the proportion of frosting to cake is so high, and on top of that, it's hard to get that visually pleasing towering swirl of frosting using alternatives. When you eat them, all you taste is frosting and the actual cake is completely neglected
So as much as I like looking at them, I usually pass cupcakes by. Alas, all food bloggers have their faults...
So anyways, that's why this is my first cupcake post on the blog after two and a half years. While Monica has created some pretty fabulous cupcakes (such as these, these, and these), I've been pretty quite on this front.
But I do recognize that other people really like cupcakes and that dollop of buttercream, so here goes!
I will say that this cake is quite good, though. It's based on the Cupcake Project's Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake
recipe; it's light and fluffy, and quite good on its own (I can vouch for this since I did indeed scrape the frosting off of all the cupcakes I ate.) I've had too many cupcakes that were dry, flavorless cake drowned in a pile of buttercream.
I also love the aesthetics of these cupcakes. People usually pair white cake with chocolate frosting, but I really like the look of the white on white, but with the dark, chocolate-y filling hidden in the center.
Filling the cupcakes is quite easy, and it also keeps the cake moist for longer--plus, hello, Nutella! Just create a divot in the cupcake, fill with Nutella, cut off the top of the divot, and replace the top of the cupcake.
The buttercream is also very good, as far as buttercream goes. I've added a little bit of salt to temper the sweetness, and a large does of vanilla to give it flavor.
I made these cupcakes a few weeks ago to celebrate making it out of my tutorial's oral exam in one piece and to procrastinate on the rest of my exams, but you don't need an excuse to make these guys. I will say this about cupcakes: they are really cute, and have a way of brightening up your day. And take it from someone who doesn't like cupcakes; these are pretty good!
Click here for the printer-friendly recipe.
Yields: about 16 cupcakes | Cake recipe adapted from The Cupcake Project
For the Cake
1 ¾ cups cake flour (see notes)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
⅓ cup full-fat sour cream
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
⅔ cup whole milk or buttermilk
For the Vanilla Buttercream
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
⅔ cup Nutella
Shaved White Chocolate, to decorate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and granulated sugar.
Add the butter and mix until combined. It should resemble coarse crumbs.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, oil, andvanilla extract.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined.
Stir in the milk, until just combined.
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners until about ⅔ full.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean; the cupcakes should not turn brown at all.
Let cool completely.
For the Vanilla Buttercream
In a small bowl, add the salt to the milk and stir until dissolved.
Beat the butter in a large bowl until smooth.
Whisk in the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time. Whisk well after each addition, so that the sugar is entirely incorporated.
Whisk in the vanilla extract and milk. The frosting should be fluffy and creamy.
If it is too thick, whisk in more milk. If it’s too thin, whisk in more powdered sugar.
Cut a small circular 1-inch deep divot into the middle of the cupcake. Remove the piece you just cut, and cut off the tip of the divot.
Add about 2 teaspoons of Nutella to the hole in the cupcake and replace the top part of the piece you removed. Repeat with the other cupcakes.
Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream.
Sprinkle with shaved white chocolate, if desired.