The Ultimate Birthday Cake Cupcakes

image

My friend Jessie Oleson, aka CakeSpy, was the first person to begin championing the Bake It in a Cake blog when it started back in 2010; so when she wrote and released her cookbook, CakeSpy: Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, she included an ode to Bake It in a Cake by way of cupcake-stuffed cupcakes. Genius, of course! My version has a funfetti-inspired center in a chocolate cupcake and, because there was some vanilla batter left over, I baked off the rest of the cake batter, crumbled it up, and used it as a topping. Cake on a cake filled with cake is the best way to celebrate a birthday.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Inner Cupcakes

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1⅓ cups whole milk
¼ cup rainbow sprinkles

Outer Cupcakes

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken or chopped into small pieces
1⅓ cups plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk, if needed
2 to 3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles

1. To make the inner cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F and spray both a 24-cup miniature muffin tin and a 9-inch square cake pan with nonstick baking spray. Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed to combine the butter and sugar for 90 seconds, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in each egg completely before adding the next. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and mix for an additional 30 seconds, until all the ingredients are well combined. Finally, add the flour, ½ cup at a time, alternately with the milk, ⅓ cup at a time, mixing until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Continue to mix the batter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds, until smooth and creamy. Use a spatula to fold in the sprinkles until just combined.

2. Spoon the batter into each cup of the prepared miniature cupcake tins so they’re about three-quarters full. Pour the remaining batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges and tops of the cupcakes and the cake have turned golden brown and the cake springs back when you gently press your finger into the top of it. (The cupcakes may bake slightly faster than the cake in the square pan, so keep an eye on the oven.) Allow the cake and the cupcakes to cool in the pans while you prepare the outer cupcakes.

3. To make the outer cupcakes, line 2 standard muffin tins with 24 paper liners. Place the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds on high. Stir and microwave for another 20 seconds. Stir the mixture until the chocolate has completely melted and the milk is fully incorporated. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to cool while you prepare the rest of the cupcake batter.

4. Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed to combine the butter and sugar for 90 seconds, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in each egg completely before adding the next. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then, with the mixer on medium-low speed, add the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the cocoa powder. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and mix for an additional 30 seconds, until all the ingredients are well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the flour, ½ cup at a time, alternately with the remaining 1⅓ cups milk, ⅓ cup at a time, until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Finally, with the mixer on medium-high, drizzle in the cooled chocolate mixture. Continue to mix the batter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds, until smooth and creamy.

5. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of batter into each cup of the prepared cupcake tins. Place a cooled miniature cupcake in the center of each cup and press it gently into the batter. Cover the cupcake with another heaping tablespoon of batter so the top and sides are completely covered and the cup is about three-quarters full. (It’s okay if the top of the cupcake sticks up out of the batter a little bit—miniature cupcake tins come in different sizes, so your mini cupcakes may be slightly larger.) Bake at 350°F for 23 to 25 minutes, until the edges and tops of the cupcakes have set and the cake springs back when you gently press your finger into the top of it. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tins for at least 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To frost and decorate the cupcakes, remove the vanilla cake from the cake pan, break it into pieces, and place it in a bowl or food processor. Use your hands or the food processor to break the cake up into a crumbly mixture. Set aside. To make the frosting, whip the butter for about 30 seconds with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, whipping on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the vanilla and whip until just combined. If the frosting is too thick, add the milk and whip on high for 20 seconds until the frosting is fluffy. Add the sprinkles and whip for another 20 seconds or so, until they’re evenly distributed. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes. You can either dip the top of the cupcake into the crumbs, or dip the edges of the frosted cupcakes into the cake crumb mixture so there’s a ring of cake crumbs around the edge and a circle of frosting untouched at the center of the cupcakes. That’s where your birthday candles can go!

imageThis recipe appears in my cookbook Bake it in a Cupcake: 50 Treats With a Surprise Inside. It’s out now on Andrews McMeel Publishing and available at your favorite local bookstore as well as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.org!