Happy 4th of July and welcome to this week’s Chocolate Monday! Talk about a double header! And what better way to celebrate our country’s birthday than with these festive Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. I had so much fun coloring the frosting for the holiday, piping it (not my strong suit) and sharing these recipes with you.
These cupcakes began as a cake recipe from the incomparable Nancie McDermott’s “Southern Cakes” cookbook. If you haven’t seen it, you need to rush over to Amazon or your local bookstore and buy a copy today! These are some of the most incredible cake recipes you will ever find and they will change your life. And this is no exaggeration. I promise you will be amazed.
When you read the recipe you will wonder if there are typos when it tells you how long to cream the butter and sugar together. Nope, that’s correct. It’s one of the secrets to the heavenly texture. Nancie knows her stuff and I am not about to question her, LOL. She is also one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and that kindness and joy shines in every recipe. You’ll feel like you’re in the kitchen with her, sharing a cup of coffee and learning from the best!
When I converted the recipe to cupcakes, I didn’t anticipate the volume of the batter. When you beat the ingredients as long as she tells you to it develops a tremendous amount of air. I had prepped two 12-cup muffin pans but after filling them, I wound up with enough batter left over for a small cake – bonus!! I’m guessing that you’ll wind up with close to 30 cupcakes … it is better to have too many muffin pans ready to go than not enough! If you don’t use all the cups, remove the empty paper liners before putting the pans in the oven.
Have you ever wondered how the French make their infamous macarons with the incredibly rich and deep colors? Here’s the answer … use either gel or powdered colorings. There is another benefit to using them – no matter how much you add (just a little because they are really concentrated!) you will not alter the ratio of dry to liquid ingredients. This lets you get as intense a color as you want.
For today’s frosting I used LorAnn’s powdered colors – just enough for a fun color and still be in the pastel range. You certainly could take them darker if you want, just add more powder! To get it out of the container, I use the tip of a very thin knife (like a paring knife) to bring out just a little at a time. Then I whisked it into the frosting, adding more until I got the shade I was looking for.
I prefer using disposable piping bags when I am working with colored frostings. I don’t want to risk a parchment cone splitting on me and the disposables let me clean up in a snap. Just cut the tip of the bag off, slip in your preferred piping tip, (I used a medium round tip), and pull it through until it is tightly seated. Then you can fill the bags with the colored frostings.
If you’re like me and not as skilled at piping as I would like, take a look at the YouTube videos from Elise of My Cupcake Addiction. She walks you through each step to create a wide variety of designs and discusses which piping tip to use to get a specific design. Elise is the queen of buttercream and I’m grateful to have her videos to guide me!
I hope you are all enjoying your long holiday weekend, eating lots of barbecued foods, and having fun spending time with your friends and family. If you are still looking for a great dessert, these cupcakes will be a hit with all your guests.
Have a fabulous 4th of July and Happy Chocolate Monday!
Be sure to use a neutral-flavored gluten-free flour blend. This is a delicate cake and you don’t want to overpower the flavors with more dominant flours (like quinoa, teff, or bean flours).
Kitchen Skill: How to Fill a Piping Bag
There are a couple of tricks to filling a piping bag that will save you time and cleanup. Once you’ve cut the tip off the disposable piping bag and inserted the tip, twist the bag just above the end of the tip and tuck some of the bag down into the tip. This will help prevent frosting from leaking out while you are filling them.
The second trick is to set the bag with the tip into a heavy-bottomed glass and fold over a large cuff at the top of the bag. This will protect your hands from getting covered with frosting as you fill the bag. And don’t fill the bag too full, you need plenty of headroom to close the top and twist it to keep the frosting firmly in the end of the bag.
- Vanilla Cupcakes
- 3 cups (360g) cake flour or gluten-free flour blend*
- 2 tsp baking powder
- * 1 tsp xanthan gum (only if using gluten-free flour blend)
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon, optional
- 1 cup (8 oz / 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
- White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 4 oz white chocolate, chopped finely
- 1-1/2 cup (12 oz / 3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 6 to 7 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or paste
- 2 to 3 tbsp whole milk or heavy cream
- Make the Cupcakes: Line 3 cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add xanthan if using gluten-free flour. Whisk until well blended. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your standing mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until combined, then increase the speed to high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 6 to 8 minutes, scraping the bowl and beater(s) occasionally. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. (TIP: Break all the eggs into a measuring cup with a spout and pour them in, one yolk at a time with whatever whites go with it. This is the easiest way to get them into the mixing bowl quickly and cleanly!) Scrape the bowl and beater(s).
- Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat until the flour is fully incorporated. Turn the motor off, add 1/2 of the buttermilk, again mixing until incorporated before adding half of the remaining flour, the remaining buttermilk, and the final portion of flour. Add the vanilla and beat it in. Scrape the bowl and beater(s) and mix for another 30 seconds.
- Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly between all the muffin cups, no more than about 2/3 full. Depending on how full you fill your cupcake liners, you should wind up with about 30 cupcakes.
- Transfer to the hot oven and bake for 12 minutes, then spin the pans and move the pan on the top rack to the bottom and the pan on the bottom rack to the top. Bake for another 8 minutes or until the tops are golden and the center springs back when lightly touched. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool thoroughly.
- Prepare the Frosting: In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the white chocolate stirring often. Remove it from the heat and cool to room temperature. If you get delayed, you can keep the chocolate warm over low heat, stirring regularly.
- In the bowl of your standing mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beater paddle. Add the melted and cooled white chocolate, again beating until the chocolate is fully incorporated; scrape the bowl and beater.
- Add the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, beating 2 minutes between each addition. Add the vanilla and 1 tbsp of the cream. Beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. If it starts to get too dry, add a little milk (about 1 tsp), beating until creamy. Add remaining sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
- If you are piping the frosting, you want it thick enough to hold the piping design. To tell if it is at the right consistency, take a spoonful and hold it upside down. It should stay on the spoon. Try to shake it off, and if it hangs on and needs a vigorous shaking to get it to fall, it is perfect!
- If you want, you can add food coloring (preferably gel or powder form). For more than one color, separate the frosting into individual bowls and color each bowlful separately.
- Decorate the Cupcakes: You can spread the frosting with a knife if you want to add sprinkles or other decorations, or use a piping bag for a fancier presentation. A round, star, or petal tip will create beautiful decorations. For fantastic videos on how to use different piping techniques tune into Elise from My Cupcake Addiction's YouTube channel. She will walk you through all different types of ways to decorate your cupcakes like a pro!
- Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two; refrigerate for longer storage.
Create a New Tradition Today!
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