I tend to judge a Chinese restaurant by their fried rice, a Thai place by the Pad Thai, a pizzeria by its pepperoni and cheese, and a bakery by its vanilla cupcake. The beauty of its simplicity lies in how versatile it can be yet how it can stand alone as a dessert show-stopper untouched. Two ways I’ve played with this recipe is first by giving it a tropical flare by topping it with toasted coconut and candied dried pineapple, and then filling the cupcake with something (in this case, some candy… more on that later).
First we have to start with the base recipes. I always use the Magnolia Bakery recipe which I’ve included below. The recipe is meant for one 9×13″ cake or a three layer 9″ round cake. However, since I veer more toward mini cupcakes (it’s just better for parties and potlucks), it’ll make 48 minis plus 12 regular cupcakes.
Vanilla Cake (Magnolia Bakery)
1 ¼ self-rising flour
1 ½ all-purpose flour
1 cup butter; softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line your cupcake tins.
- In a small bowl, mix your flours together.
- In a large bowl, cream butter on medium speed and then gradually add sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy. Add flour in three parts alternating with milk. Stir in vanilla.
- Spoon batter into prepared tins and bake for 15-18 minutes.
½ cup shortening
½ cup butter; softened
3 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup milk
- Beat shortening and butter together. Add icing sugar and beat for about 3 minutes, scraping the sides. Add vanilla and milk and beat for another 5 minutes until fluffy, scraping the sides as needed.
Now that laid down the ground work, let’s dress ’em up!
I mentioned earlier to simply top the cupcake with toasted coconut and candied dried pineapple. Here is the result!
The other cupcake I made has been affectionately called the Candy Shop Cupcake. I cut a hole in the cupcake (saving the tops.. I’ll explain later) and filled it with Pop Rocks Candy.
I then re-topped them with the trimmed cupcake hole I cut earlier. Normally when I fill a cupcake, I don’t bother re-topping because, let’s be honest, what’s the point? But with this cupcake, because the pop rocks instantly start crackling, I wanted to preserve that as much as possible. Even though the cake is very moist, keeping the candy away from direct contact with the frosting helps keep the fizz going longer.
Next, pipe that vanilla frosting and then sprinkle some Nerds candy on them (I’ve tried it with more pop rocks but those tend to just melt right away). Tah-dah! You have childhood memories in a bite-sized cake!