Looking for the best cupcakes recipe ever? Cupcakes: The dessert holy grail of the millennium. Sprinkles in Beverly Hills and Magnolia in New York both regularly boast hour-long lines for their cupcakes, and cupcakeries across the country have exploded in popularity, with bakers charging $3 and up for their perfectly proportioned sugary creations.
Makes 24 cupcakes:
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (try to find extract rather than imitation vanilla)
- Buttercream frosting (recipe below)
- Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tins (each with 12 cups) with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter until it’s smooth. Add the sugar, ½ cup at a time, and continue beating until thoroughly blended and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, as you continue to beat the mixture.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients in 4 parts to the butter mixture, beating each time just until the ingredients are mixed in. Add milk and vanilla halfway through the dry mixture additions.
- When you’re done beating, mix once more with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl, to make sure that the batter is blended.
- Using a soup ladle or spoon, fill each of the paper liners about ¾ full with the cupcake batter.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center a couple of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from tins and place on a wire rack or on the counter until they’re completely cooled, about 45 minutes.
- Frost with buttercream frosting (see recipe below) or storebought frosting. You can use with a spatula to frost, or you can spoon frosting into a Ziploc bag, cut a ½ inch slit in one corner, and use it as a cake-frosting device.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Beat butter in bowl using electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Gradually beat in confectioners sugar.
Beat in milk and vanilla. Continue to beat for 2-3 minutes, until smooth, creamy and dense.
Five cool spins on a classic:
- Strawberry cupcakes: Decrease milk to ½ cup and mix in ½ cup strawberry jelly with the milk. Add ½ cup chopped strawberries and mix in with wooden spoon just before filling liners.
- Key lime cupcakes: Substitute ¾ cup milk and ¼ cup key lime juice for the 1 cup milk. Add 2 tsp lime zest.
- Chocolate chip cupcakes: Mix in 1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips with wooden spoon just before filling liners.
- M&M cupcakes: Mix in 1 ½ cups M&Ms with wooden spoon just before filling liners. Sprinkle additional M&Ms on top of frosting once cupcakes are finished.
- Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes: Coarsely chop 1 ½ cups of peanut butter cups and mix in with wooden spoon just before filling liners. Top each finished cupcake with ½ mini peanut butter cup.
- Cookies and cream cupcakes: Mix in 1 ½ cups crushed Oreo cookies with wooden spoon just before filling liners.