The Perfect Cupcake {My Favorite Dessert to Share}

The Perfect Cupcake {My Favorite Dessert to Share}featured

This is the recipe I share more than any other.   It’s my go-to cake and cupcake recipe, and I highly doubt that I’ll ever find one better.  You’ll find these cupcakes to be light and fluffy, yet moist and dense with a delicious flavor.  One of the reasons I love making these cupcakes is because adults love them as well as the children do, and the cake itself is so good that children actually eat it.  You know, instead of just licking off the frosting.

I use this delicious cake recipe for birthday cakes that I bake for my family, but it works beautifully for cupcakes and they are our celebration staple for gatherings with family and friends.   I posted about this a few years back, but decided to do a separate post with instructions just for cupcakes, since the alternative is typically a rather complicated, confusing conversation. “Go to my cake post, then half it.  Then half the frosting recipe, but double the powdered sugar.” Confusing.  This is much clearer!


This is half-scratch, half-box cake.  I have tried making my own box cake recipes before, but nothing comes close to the combo of ingredients that comes from the box!  In conjunction with the sour cream, egg whites, and the pure almond and vanilla extracts, the cake is soft and moist and the flavor is absolutely delicious.


I’m not even a cake person and I can’t get enough of these!


If you want to make a layer cake,  go to the cake post on my old blog HERE  Modified from the original recipe found HERE



If you use the 1/4 cup batter guideline (liners should be slightly less than 1/2 full), you’ll make between 30-36 cupcakes with this recipe.

My preference is to use white batter, white liners, and white frosting, and then let the sprinkles or topper do the talking.  It’s simple, but I love how professional the cupcakes look every time.

Take extra care not to drip batter on the tops of the cupcake liners. The result will be burned batter, which is not appetizing!  If I have extra liners, I’ll start over with a fresh liner. If I don’t have extra liners, I’ll wipe the lining with a clean, damp towel to remove the excess batter.

Frosting:  Piping frosting is faster and easier than frosting with a knife. Don’t believe me? I can pipe frosting onto 36 cupcakes in less than 2 minutes.  And using the technique I prefer, anyone can do it. Including my seven year-old.   Simply use a Wilton 1M tip (see instructions below) add some sprinkles, and you’re done. You’ll be smiling all the way, because it’s fun, easy, and the result is lovely and professional.

When making cupcakes for classroom birthday parties or for events where I need a lot of cupcakes, I’ll typically use a very scant 1/4 cup of batter and also use less frosting by piping more towards the center.  This way you’ll get more cupcakes out of your batch of cupcakes and frosting.  Less sugar for everyone and less half-eaten cupcakes as well (kids!).



White Almond Sour Cream Cupcakes:


1 box white or vanilla cake mix (Betty Crocker or Pillsbury are recommended, we prefer vanilla)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 teaspoon almond extract (do not omit this ingredient unless you have a nut allergy, as it gives the cupcakes amazing flavor. Trust me on this one)
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites


  • Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Fill cupcake liners with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (depending on the size of your liners, this should be just about halfway full)
  • Lightly tap cupcake pans on counter to bring air bubbles to top.
  • Bake in preheated 375° F oven until cupcakes test done (in my oven that’s about 17 minutes). For my British friends, my London fan-assisted oven works best for these at 180 degrees for 6 minutes.  Cupcakes will still be white on top when they are done, so keep an eye on your cupcakes and test when they look like they’ve firmed up and the centers are elevated.  Use your nose and monitor your cupcakes closely, because if they’re browned on top, they’re likely overdone.  Overdone = dry, and we can’t have that!
  • Cool completely before frosting


Cream Cheese Frosting:

You can use your favorite buttercream or chocolate frosting recipe, just be sure it is a dense frosting that holds its shape when piped, if you plan to decorate your cupcakes as shown.   I like to use Ina Garten’s Cream Cheese Frosting recipe, but for only 30-36 cupcakes, I will half her recipe and double the powdered sugar so that it has more of a traditional butter cream consistency with a delicious taste.   It’s a very forgiving recipe, and with the vanilla and almond extracts, the flavor is wonderful!

I’m lazy and sometimes don’t use recipes for frosting, so this is my typical go-to cream cheese recipe (might be easier to use it than to half Ina’s recipe and double the sugar):

1 stick of salted butter,
8 ounce container of Pillsbury cream cheese
1 teaspoon almond extract (as above, do not omit this ingredient unless you have a nut allergy, as it gives the frosting an amazing flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 lb+ powdered sugar  (use high quality powdered sugar, as low quality sugar often has lumps, which can clog your piping bag and cause big problems).

Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer or with a hand-held mixer, and then gradually add the powdered sugar until the frosting thickens and stiffens, and forms peaks that stay put when you lift the beaters upwards from the bowl.

You don’t want the frosting to be too stiff (or too sugary), or too runny, so pay particular attention to the consistency before you start to pipe your cupcakes or frost your cake.  When in doubt, try putting a bit of the frosting in your piping bag,  and then pipe the frosting onto wax paper.  If it retains its shape without “melting,” you’re ready to continue.  If the frosting loses shape or appears to melt, then add more powdered sugar.  If it’s extremely dry and difficult to pipe, my mom taught me to add a bit of milk to make the frosting more liquid.

Frost or pipe cupcakes after they have cooled completely (instructions below) and add sprinkles immediately so that they stick to the frosting.  If you plan to top your frosting with fresh fruit, do this at the last minute before your event begins.


Piping Instructions:

With a Wilton 1M tip, you can achieve the look above with ease, by simply putting frosting in your piping bag and working from the outside to the inside of your cupcake in a swirling motion (like soft serve ice cream going into a cone!).  Wilton shows the step-by-step technique HERE  but I use far less frosting than they do. In fact, when I’m making cupcakes for children, I’ll start piping towards the middle of the cupcake rather than starting at the edge of the liner, as seen below.

Top cupcakes with frosting, then immediately add sprinkles, fresh berries, or a festive topper, and serve on your favorite platter (the one shown is from Old Town Imports)  Yours will be the first to disappear from your neighborhood potluck or school bake sale.  Promise!



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