A Great Cupcake

I am always searching for the next great cake recipe (you know, for my monthly "cake attacks") Cupcakes are ideal for portion control since I have an issue with SELF control. I have used many recipes over the years, and have made this particular one before (click the picture to read it more clearly). But who knew the impact a great icing recipe can make? I realize now, my earlier attempts at the perfect cupcake had fallen flat due to a lackluster buttercream.

Marzipan made us some Valentine's cupcakes with a lovely buttercream last month, and I had to have the recipe. She obliged with a post on her blog and it was the answer to my cupcake prayers.

A light buttercream that is smooth as satin and not-too-sweet. Tinted with pink and piped onto an old-fashioned chocolate cupcake, it was heaven. I split this recipe in half and it was the perfect amount for the cake recipe above.

Buttercream Frosting
by Katherine Seeley/Fine Cooking

This basic vanilla buttercream can be flavored in an almost endless variety of ways; see Variations below.
Yields 7-1/2 to 8 cups enough to fill and frost a 9-inch four-layer cake or about 5 dozen cupcakes

5 large egg whites
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1 lb., 4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high speed until foamy. Sprinkle in 6 Tbs. of the sugar and beat on high speed to medium peaks (the whites should be smooth, full, and shiny, and the peaks should curl a little). Turn off the mixer.

Combine the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar and the corn syrup in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium high heat, stirring briefly to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook just until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.

Immediately remove the syrup from the heat, turn the mixer onto medium-high speed, and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a steady stream, being very careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk.

Reduce the speed to medium and continue whisking until the whites are barely warm, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the butter 1 Tbs. at a time. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

In place of vanilla, add one of the following flavorings at low speed to prevent splattering, then increase speed to medium to blend.

Lemon: 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest.
Orange:1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice, 1/4 cup finely grated orange zest (from about 3 large oranges).
Strawberry or Raspberry: 3/4 cup berry purée (purée the fruit in a blender and strain).
Liqueur: 2 Tbs. liqueur (such as Frangelico, Grand Marnier, Baileys, Kahlua, Chambord), more to taste.
Chocolate: 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted.
Coffee: 1-1/2 Tbs. instant espresso dissolved in 1 Tbs. boiling water.

What to do when two nieces and a sister-in-law have birthdays in the month of February? Make a few dozen baby pink confections and settle in to a weekend of cupcake snitching.

I have been working on my Frequently Asked Questions this week, so if you have anything you must know, let me know so it can be added to the list. I will post the answers while I'm on vacation.


  1. Mmm those look heavenly... yes yes yes the frosting is absolutely and necessity for the perfect cupcake. Mmm... too bad I am a horrible cook. =(
    but then again I live in NYC and there are tons of great bakers and cooks!

  2. That's what I'm talkin' about!!!!...it is truly THE.BEST.FROSTING EVER!!!!!!!!!!.....I can't wait to try it all on my own!!!!!....although it may be very dangerous to make it whenever I want.....I too have major self control issues!!!

  3. Oooh yeah - cupcakes!! We had great success halving the icing recipe as well. Did you use your pampered chef decorator? They look awesome! I just bought some larger decorating tips at Joann's - can't wait to try them!

  4. oh yeah ... cupcakes are PERFECTION and the frosting seriously makes or breaks them. thanks for sharing. :)


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