Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream


Dating someone new means meeting all sorts of new people.

Listen… I know I’m getting old and this isn’t my first jump into meeting the groups of friends, the work buddies, the casual friends, the bosses, the grandma, or the adopted dog of the strapping young gent that I’m dating.  Sadly, all this experience has made me no less awkward and devoid of grace.  I have a tendency towards embarrassing sweat, stuttering and knuckle cracking that is less than charming… Or!  I just talk about my kitten, or the family dog, or this giant white rabbit that attacked me in 4th grade and no one believed me but it TOTALLY happened… and then I just leave other people feeling weird… and it’s all just awkward.

Anyhow!  I’ve devised two personal tactics to detract from such boneheaded behavior:  wear a pretty dress and heels and always bring cupcakes (or cookies or brownies or granola… or pie).  This way, I feel pretty and I turn into a tall girl… and people instantly love me when I had them a box of chocolate and sugar.  It’s a little bit of a dirty trick and it works every time.


Sprinkles?  A lifesaver.  Who could resist?


These Vanilla Bean Cupcakes are a classic.  They’re exactly like every cupcake I ate between the ages of five and nine.

Dense but moist cake with an undeniable vanilla flavor.

They’re sweet.  They make me want a balloon animal made for me.


These un-frosted but baked cupcakes also freeze well.

And they taste great right out of the freezer… all hard and cold and gnarly.  But that’s not their best use.

They really should be smothered in chocolate buttercream and eaten in mass.


This is absolutely my favorite Chocolate Buttercream recipe.  It’s smooth and thoroughly chocolaty, without being stiff and overly sweet like chocolate buttercream can sometimes become.  I didn’t invent Chocolate Buttercream.  The inspiration comes from a Los Angeles bakery I worked in.

The secret ingredient is Ovaltine powder and heavy cream.  If you can’t get your hands on Ovaltine, you might try using hot chocolate mix.  Yea.  Weird… but totally delicious!  Count on it.


Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes

from Organic and Chic

Print this Recipe!

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This may take 3 to 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  If the batter begins to looks a bit curdled, that’s alright.

with the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the vanilla milk mixture in three batches, starting and ending with the flour.  When the batter is almost combined, stop the mixer and finish mixing the batter with a spatula, making sure that any flour bits at the bottom of the bowl are well incorporated.

Divide into the lined cupcake pan and bake for 25 minutes or until golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely before frosting.

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes or one 8-inch layer cake

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Ovaltine

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream.  Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.  Yuuuuuuuuum!!

314 thoughts on “Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

  1. These look delicious! That’s probably what I’m going to spend my snowed-in weekend doing..

    And I so hear you on ‘meeting the friends’. You can also add “not realising was going to be dressed up and showing up with a vaguely see-through tank top because it was hot outside” to the list. Sigh.

  2. I love cupcakes. It started has a way to easily give cake to my children(cake was so messy when they were young) but the love affair has grown through the years now I like cupcakes best and I make them for all the Holidays and just for fun.
    These cupcakes look especially yummy!

  3. Sounds like you’ve got a foolproof system going! Don’t change a thing! As for the sweat… loose clothing and patterned fabrics are your friends… at least until you stop sweating and relax around them. Which you should do, really, I mean who wouldn’t love you? :)

    These cupcakes look delish… Vanilla beans make everything taste amazing!

  4. Hello!
    I really cannot believe that you’re being awkward meeting new people – you always make me laugh reading your entries (I mean HELLO, how funny is your bunny story…)

    AND you made me want to try cupcakes for the first time: I’m from europe and we’re not really used to the concept of cupcakes. Cupcake bakerys started opening just a couple years ago and so far only in the big cities. And I always wondered if I’d really like that big amount of cream on my muffin. But your’re pictures look so delicious, that I really want to try.
    Leaves me with the question: How do you apply the cream to make it look like in your pictures? Are you using some kind of kitchen utensil or is there some technique to it?
    Thanks in advance and fingers crossed for your date – I’m sure they’ll love you!

  5. Cupcakes are magically delicious! I remember one year I made a big, beautiful chocolate cake to take to the restaurant where we were going for my husband’s birthday, and since it’s a pain for any restaurant staff to have to deal with an outside cake, I also brought big, beautiful chocolate cupcakes for the whole staff… and you should have SEEN the amazing service we got! Plus a comped bottle of wine… magic! Everyone loves cupcakes. These look fabulous!

  6. I like the pink background for your cupcakes! Your swirls are piped on so perfectly. Thanks for this great post. I have a question for you, where did you buy your pastry bag and where did you get that tip? I want to buy some, but I don’t know what brand to buy and such. I want that tip too, but I don’t know where you can buy such a tip. Thank you. :)

    1. I have to second the request on finding out where you buy your pastry bag and tip. I’ve got an office full of hungry co-workers who have specifically requested my peanut-butter-and-chocolate-dipped chocolate cupcakes for the holiday bowling party, but while they taste yummy, they look less than perfect. It’s the swirl on top that’s killing me, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m using a tip that’s too small with a super thick peanut butter frosting. Help, please!!

      Incidentally, the boy and his friends/family/adopted dog have to love you and any hint of boneheaded behavior, even without the cupcakes (though they are a perfect touch). I mean, come on – you’re Joy! How could they not love you?? Just sayin’.

      1. Not to take over Joy’s comment thread, but I want the recipe for the peanut butter and chocolate dipped cupcakes Shauna mentions – that combination is totally my Kryptonite!

      2. Girls, you can buy a pastry bag and tips at any craft store — Michael’s, JoAnnes, or any cake/baking shop. The craft stores should be a bit less expensive (and might have a coupon). They also should have several tips for purchase — ranging from small ones to large ones. Once you use a pastry bag once or twice, it’s a breeze!

        1. I have a pastry tip that makes just those size swirls and the end measures just about 1/2″ across. I bought it really cheap at a cake decorating shop. You’ll have to buy the coupler too. Just google cake decorating shops in your area. Craft stores didn’t have that size tips. And if you go to a cake decorating shop you’ll be amazed at all the fun stuff they have.

    2. Hi! Just a super easy and super inexpensive suggestion if you can’t find/don’t have time to look for that specific tip.

      I’ve made cupcakes that look super pretty like that simply by filling a ziploc bag and snipping off the corner. It works beautifully!

    3. hey y’all. if you go to Michael’s or a cake decorating store… you’ll be looking for products like these:,default,sc.html?start=0&sz=12

      i have a set of tips and i use the larger rounds when it comes to frosting cupcakes. bags come in reusable canvas or disposable plastic. and i don’t always use the coupler rings. but they come in handy and are more professional.

      hope that helps!

      1. Thanks, Joy!! There’s a Michael’s about 10 minutes from my house, so guess where I’ll be spending my money buying a large round tip this weekend? :)

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