Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

I didn’t set out to do a yellow cake recipe comparison, but when my first batch of cupcakes had an odd crumb and tasted like cake mix, I wanted to find a better recipe and see what it was that made the first recipe so poor.

The first recipe came from Rose Levy Berenbaum via Joy of Baking. The recipe claimed that by mixing the butter into the dry ingredients, then adding milk, eggs, and vanilla, I would get a “moist, dense, and velvety” cake. Nope. Because of all the baking powder (2 tsp in 12 cupcakes), they were not dense at all, and the texture was very crumbly. On top of that, they tasted faintly like chemicals, as if they came from a mix.

The second, and far superior recipe came from Gale Gand via Food Network. With slightly more butter, the same amount of flour, and 1/2 tsp less baking soda, these were yellow, buttery, and fabulous. They had the velvety, moist texture the first recipe promised. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

These cupcakes were a friend who loves to surf, so I thought chocolate surfboards seemed like an appropriate decoration. For the frosting, I used the ever-reliable Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Frosting recipe, and for the surfboards, I just melted some dark and white chocolate, and piped them onto parchment and let them harden.

Recipe
(adapted from Food Network)

Yield: 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together onto a sheet of wax paper. Add half of it to the butter mixture, and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the milk. Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour mixture. Mix gently just until all the flour disappears. Pour into the cupcake tins and bake for about 22 minutes, or until a cupcake comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool completely.

Frost with Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Frosting (scroll to the bottom of the page for the recipe)

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