This is a strong statement so prepare yourself: I *think* I love Halloween baking more than Christmas baking. It’s so fun, there’s a great theme that can go a number of ways, lots of awesome colors to use (hence the colors of this frosting), an amazing array of decorations, and there’s so much less pressure!
As you’ll see, I don’t go the scary, grotesque route of Halloween, but instead I’m more kitchy with bright colors and all the accessories (i.e. sprinkles) that I can get my hands on.
When I was planning what to make for this week (everyone does that, right?…right?), I really wanted a stellar cupcake. So I googled “best cupcakes” and New York City’s Magnolia Bakery recipe popped up. Instantly I was taken back to the first time I went there (when Barack Obama was a twinkle in America’s eye) to get some celebratory cupcakes for a work conference we had just finished. As soon as I walked in, I bee-lined to the display cases to ooo and ahh over the little puffy cakes in so many flavors and colors (reminder that this is before the cupcake fad really caught on).
So when I made this recipe, I found it to be nothing short of perfect and undoubtedly the “best cupcakes” I’ve ever made. It’s easy and you probably have all the ingredients on hand. I also found the cupcakes to be light and airy, but still moist and cakey. The frosting is the kind that coats your mouth in deliciousness, but is easy to work with and not overly sweet. Together it’s an incredibly balanced Halloween or anytime treat!
For the Cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing pans
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups self-rising flour (I used only all-purpose flour and added baking powder and salt)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
For the Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Mix the flours together in a bowl. In a glass measure, mix the milk and vanilla.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk and the vanilla, beating well after each addition. Spoon the batter into muffin cups about 3/4 full.
Bake until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the pans and cool on a rack before frosting.
To make the frosting, place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the icing is thick enough to spread. Add a few drops of food coloring if desired. Frost cupcakes. Eat in excess.
Yield: 24 cupcakes (and frosting for 24 cupcakes)