Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I can’t believe this is the first cupcake post on here. I mean, who is writing these posts anyway? Certainly not me. The real me is obsesssed with light, buttery, delicate cupcakes fresh out of the oven… or even not so fresh. Just give me one!

Lover of cupcakes I may be, but even though Los Angeles is scattered with many beautiful little bakeries, I’ve never had a cupcake from one of their shiny display cases or plucked one from a cute pink box. This disturbed me just a little bit. I mean, I felt like I have been missing out on something major, here!

Then again, I thought, maybe it’s just the look of the professionally-piped frosting or the especially-golden, buttery soft cake beneath that draws the crowds. I don’t know. But I was determined to recreate in my own kitchen what I thought a REAL cupcake made with tender, loving care, and without my usual method of mix-in-a-box, to taste like.

Success! The lovely Monet over at Anecdotes and Apple Cores had it all right. As much as everyone likes to try new flavors and varieties, there’s just something so special about a vanilla cupcake. However, there’s really no need for all that butter and egg, which can upset even the most sturdy stomachs. So, her solution: Well, yes you need a little bit of butter, but only 1/4 cup. The real secret is buttermilk. It keeps all the rich, buttery flavor without all the fat, and you still have a delicate, moist and utterly delectable cupcake.As for the frosting, I turned to my trusty Joy of Cooking for a sweet and simple solution. By using Neufchatel cream cheese, you cut out 33% of the fat in typical cream cheese frosting, but keep the same rich flavor. For the piping, I used a 16-inch disposable pastry bag and Wilton 1M tip, both bought from Michaels.

All in all, these cupcakes were a decadent little treat, and I didn’t feel so guilty about indulging in them. Now, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at the LA bakeries, because I can bake up a pretty good cupcake at home!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Servings 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. light cream cheese room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons butter softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted

Instructions

  • Vanilla Cupcakes:
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups. In a small bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients until well combined.
  • In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, stir, pour in buttermilk, stir, and then add the remaining flour. Stir until well combined.
  • Distribute evenly in muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • Allow cake/cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
  • Beat cream cheese with butter and vanilla until combined. Gradually add powdered sugar. Continue to add more powdered sugar until you reach a consistency and sweetness that fits your taste.
  • Recommended: Fit a large pastry bag (around 16 inches) with a Wilton 1M tip and add frosting to fill the bag about halfway full. Start the swirl from the center. As you near the outside, release pressure and press the tip against the swirl to make it look "seamless."

Join the Conversation

  1. Yay for cupcakes! Oh, and I totally know the L.A. cupcake dilemma… I live three blocks away from Vanilla Bake Shop. Every time I walk over to Whole Foods for a freaking banana or a gallon of milk, I am tempted by perfect little displays of mini key lime cupcakes and enormous double-chocolate-chocolate-bliss-whatever tarts. Mmmm…

    Also, I am loving the development of a little blogger circle here… Isn’t Monet lovely? I love her honest approach to baking: she explains why she makes the changes she does, and isn’t afraid to take a risk.

    Sigh. These look great. I want to make cupcakes now! I’m actually heading out to Miami this evening for a long weekend and Fathers’ day… perhaps I will bake these for my dad, who is all about diet and junk food….

    —- Lauren, Lauren’s Little Kitchen

  2. Whoa, living that close to a cupcake shop must be utter torture!

    I agree that the little blogger circle is nice – Maybe we’ll all meet one day for a meal. I’ll do the cooking, you do the sandwiches, and Monet will do the baking!

    Make some cupcakes when you get back, but in the meantime, have an amazing time in Miami with your family!

  3. Sweet girl…I am so glad that you enjoyed these. It is one of my favorite recipes and it warmed my heart to see that you also had a good experience with them. Your pictures are stunning! And Lauren…you are too sweet. Gosh, I’m so blessed with all these amazing people in my blogging life!

  4. These cupcakes look wonderful and since they are low fat I can eat more RIGHT?

  5. Haha! Low fat or not, you can always eat more cupcakes – It’s just a matter of how long you have to spend exercising after them!

    Monet, So glad I did your recipe proud! Thanks for stopping by and letting me know what you think :)

  6. I could eat way too many of those beauties! Nicely done.

  7. These vanilla cupcakes are perfectly piped. I like that the recipe yields 12 (instead of 2 dozen) and the base cupcake recipe.

  8. Thank you, Pam and Cristina!

    Cristina, I’m glad they look perfectly piped to you – This was my very first try with fancy pastry tools! And yes, the yield of 12 is nice and modest… Cupcakes are great, but the fewer leftovers, the better!

  9. these look so so good, i can’t wait to try them!!

  10. It can never go wrong with cupcakes! I love the pictures that you shot also. Adorable. Great post!

  11. Wow! The pictures looks so perfect and amazing. Lovely cupcakes, i wonder how do you get such perfect looking pictures. I’m glad to follow you:)

  12. I love the icing! The combination of the vanilla and cheese flavor is so interesting.

  13. Thank you both for stopping by!

  14. Beautiful cupcakes- so elegant, and without the guilt of the fancy bakery ones. I haven’t made cupcakes since my kids were little, and mine never looked as pretty as yours! I guess I need to practice. :)

  15. Thank you SO MUCH for such an elegantly simple recipe!
    And such a reasonable amount of fat, virtually impossible to find in a good vanilla cupcake.

    I have been searching for a buttermilk cupcake recipe to finish off buttermilk left over from a heavenly banana cake recipe and all the other vanilla cupcakes made too many and had fussy measurements like a cup plus a tablespoon of more than one ingredient. Blech.

    This is simple fresh ingredients, good technique and normal fatt and sugar amounts measured kindly for us rushed bakers who would miss the bits here and there with distractions abounding.
    I really don’t enjoy the 1 cup of butter cakes or treats, I find it just not really that necessary or flavour adding.

    Can’t wait to make your recipe tomorrow!
    Sneaking away now to check the rest of your blog posts :)
    Your Canadian fan,
    Idas

  16. Beautiful cupcakes- so elegant, and without the guilt of the fancy bakery ones. I haven’t made cupcakes since my kids were little, and mine never looked as pretty as yours! I guess I need to practice. :)

  17. Thank you both for stopping by!

  18. I love the icing! The combination of the vanilla and cheese flavor is so interesting.

  19. Wow! The pictures looks so perfect and amazing. Lovely cupcakes, i wonder how do you get such perfect looking pictures. I’m glad to follow you:)

  20. It can never go wrong with cupcakes! I love the pictures that you shot also. Adorable. Great post!

  21. these look so so good, i can’t wait to try them!!

  22. Thank you, Pam and Cristina!

    Cristina, I’m glad they look perfectly piped to you – This was my very first try with fancy pastry tools! And yes, the yield of 12 is nice and modest… Cupcakes are great, but the fewer leftovers, the better!

  23. These vanilla cupcakes are perfectly piped. I like that the recipe yields 12 (instead of 2 dozen) and the base cupcake recipe.

  24. Haha! Low fat or not, you can always eat more cupcakes – It’s just a matter of how long you have to spend exercising after them!

    Monet, So glad I did your recipe proud! Thanks for stopping by and letting me know what you think :)

  25. These cupcakes look wonderful and since they are low fat I can eat more RIGHT?

  26. Sweet girl…I am so glad that you enjoyed these. It is one of my favorite recipes and it warmed my heart to see that you also had a good experience with them. Your pictures are stunning! And Lauren…you are too sweet. Gosh, I’m so blessed with all these amazing people in my blogging life!

  27. I could eat way too many of those beauties! Nicely done.

  28. Yay for cupcakes! Oh, and I totally know the L.A. cupcake dilemma… I live three blocks away from Vanilla Bake Shop. Every time I walk over to Whole Foods for a freaking banana or a gallon of milk, I am tempted by perfect little displays of mini key lime cupcakes and enormous double-chocolate-chocolate-bliss-whatever tarts. Mmmm…

    Also, I am loving the development of a little blogger circle here… Isn’t Monet lovely? I love her honest approach to baking: she explains why she makes the changes she does, and isn’t afraid to take a risk.

    Sigh. These look great. I want to make cupcakes now! I’m actually heading out to Miami this evening for a long weekend and Fathers’ day… perhaps I will bake these for my dad, who is all about diet and junk food….

    —- Lauren, Lauren’s Little Kitchen

  29. Whoa, living that close to a cupcake shop must be utter torture!

    I agree that the little blogger circle is nice – Maybe we’ll all meet one day for a meal. I’ll do the cooking, you do the sandwiches, and Monet will do the baking!

    Make some cupcakes when you get back, but in the meantime, have an amazing time in Miami with your family!

  30. Just found your blog and I am an official follower. Everything looks scrumptious, but these “low fat” cupcakes have me very excited! :)

  31. These look adorable… in Dubai where I live, there has been an explosion of cupcake shops and only today I was watching the staff put the frosting on the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery in Bloomingdales… too much icing… way too much… Prefer the look and quantity of yours – want to give it a bash – no buttermilk though. Think I’ll try to make my own…. fingers crossed!

  32. the icing…ah-mazing

  33. I just made these cupcakes and they came out fantastic! I love that they use less butter and eggs and have a very nice crumb texture…..

  34. Keep functioning ,great job!

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