Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting


Cupcakes weren’t called cupcakes when I was growing up, they were called fairy cakes. Fairy cakes in those days were nothing special – they were usually served at a child’s birthday party, and that was it.

Nowadays, cupcakes and their availability have not only been spreading throughout the US but they have infiltrated many markets Worldwide. It’s not as if cupcakes are new, it’s the way that they’re beautifully decorated, the flavor combinations and being marketed more at adults that make them popular.

I haven’t made fairycakes for eons. I must have been in my mid-teens when I last made them, and then I thought butterfly cakes were fancy. I used to make vanilla butterfly cakes filled with either vanilla butter-cream or vanilla-laced sweetened whipped cream (Chantilly).

Even though I love cakes, I’m not a cupcake fan. I like a cake that is moist and flavorsome (flavorful) in its own right. Although many would argue that the frosting is the best thing of the cupcake… I just don’t like frosting. The frosting adds additional fat and sugar that can be used to hide a stale cake… so keep that in mind the next time you buy one.

Suffice to say, I’ve never made a highly frosted cupcake in my life. That was until I was faced with our first event for Purple Sage (my catering company). The client had 105+ people to feed, and they wanted a set menu for dinner, with a variety of cupcakes for dessert. There were four flavors – vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, spiced cake with brown butter frosting, orange cake with orange frosting and red velvet* cake with cream cheese frosting – I made 150+ in total.

The following recipe is for vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Depending on how you want to frost the cakes will determine how much frosting you need. If you plan to spread a smidgen on the top, then use the amounts below. If you plan to pipe the frosting, then you will need to double the recipe.

* Red velvet cake is a moist, red colored, cocoa flavored cake that originates from America.



Makes about 24



For the cupcakes

  • 375 g (2 ½ c) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 170 g (¾ c) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 350 g (1 ¾ c) raw cane/turbinado sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 300 ml (1 ¼ c) milk

For the frosting- makes about 1.2 kg, 4 ½ c

  • 170 g (¾ c) unsalted butter, softened
  • 900 g (1 lb) icing (confectioners) sugar
  • 80 ml (⅓ c) milk
  • 50 g (½ c) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 t vanilla
  • Additional milk, if required

To decorate

  • Sprinkles (optional)



For the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Grease or line two (24) muffin trays (pans).

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In either a stand mixer or using a big bowl and a wooden spoon, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between each addition. Add the vanilla and beat well until everything is well incorporated.

5. Alternate the addition of the flour mix and milk, beating in between each addition. Mix until just combined. Try not to over-mix; otherwise you’ll get a very dry and rubbery cake.

6. Divide the mixture into the 24 wells of the muffin trays (pans) and bake in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Transfer the whole trays (pans) onto a wire rack to cool.

For the frosting

1. In either a stand mixer or using a big bowl and a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and cocoa powder.

2. Add half of the icing (confectioners) sugar and mix until well incorporated.

3. Add the milk and vanilla, beat until well mixed and then add the remaining sugar. Beat well.

4. If you need to thin the consistency for spreading, add extra milk if required.

To assemble

1. Either spread or pipe the frosting on top of the cupcake in any style you wish. Scatter with sprinkles, if using. Serve and enjoy!

The cupcakes can be kept in a refrigerator, covered for about 2-3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.


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