Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already heard that this weekend was my birthday. This year I turned 28…which marks 10 years, ONE DECADE, since high school.

Oh, man, has so much changed!

In the past 10 years I went to and gradated from college, met Sean and MARRIED him, learned how to bake, became a blogger, became a dog-mom, became an aunt, held a few very different jobs, lived in various dorms/apartments/houses/seedy-abodes, moved to Michigan from Nevada, and, throughout, I was mistaken, right, prideful, and humbled. There was excitement and fear, loss and new life, goodbyes and a lot of celebrations. 18-year-old me and 28-year-old me are different in so many ways! Life is both what I wanted it to be and different too, and I am super thankful for that. I mostly just feel gratitude that I’m a bit older and wiser, that I’m no longer 18, so insecure, and weirded out by life.

With all these years under my belt, I’ve learned that homemade cakes/cupcakes are what most people secretly want for their birthdays. Sometimes though, when your the only baker in your gang of peeps, you have to make your own birthday treats. It’s all good though, since as the designated baker of your gang, you’re probably used to it. The advantage is that you can make ANY treat you’d like for your birthday. The disadvantage…there are so many choices, it can get a little overwhelming. That’s what happened to me this year, I was overwhelmed by all of my options! So, when this sort of thing happens, I usually revert to a classic. Nothing says classic birthday like moist, vanilla-scented yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and a flurry of sprinkles.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting and Sprinkles

This recipe bakes exactly 12 cupcakes. I almost never have a need for more than a dozen cupcakes, so this recipe was perfect! The frosting is super easy to whip up and makes just enough to ice all of the cupcakes. The sprinkles are just a mix of things I had on hand…you can use whatever you want or do without. 


adapted from Joy the Baker

1 cup all-purpose flour

scant 3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350*F

In the bowl of a mixer, or a large bowl with a hand held mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and butter. Beat ingredients together on low until a sandy consistency is achieved. Mix in half of the buttermilk until just incorporated.

Whisk together remaining buttermilk with egg and vanilla to combine well. Add to the flour mixture and beat just to combine, scraping the bowl as needed. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter among 12 paper lined muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

adapted from Honey and Jam

5 ounces good quality dark chocolate

8 Tablespoons unsalted, room temperature butter

pinch of salt

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

4-8 Tablespoons half and half

Fashion a double boiler and melt chocolate. Set aside until cooled completely.

In the bowl of a mixer beat butter until creamy. Add melted, cooled chocolate and mix to combine. Add salt, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla. Beat to combine and add half and half 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.



  1. says

    Hell yes. I’m glad you had a good birthday. Do you know that classic vanilla with chocolate is totes my cupcake of choice!? These look especially delish.

  2. Robbie says

    ♫ ♪ Happy Birthday!!! ♪ ♫
    Looks like you had a delicious birthday!
    I like that the recipe was adapted from Joy the Baker, love that it was a chocolate icing/vanilla cake combo (one of my favorites), and especially adore the flurry of sprinkles! You sure know how to put together a festive and yummy cupcake!

  3. says

    happy birthday cindy! i love making my own birthday cake/treats because i’m the boss and can make whatever i want! these cupcakes are a solid choice!

  4. says

    Love your classic birthday cupcakes and your leftover sprinkles are the prettiest! Oh man is there a difference between 18 and 28. Happy birthday to you!

  5. Holly Turville says

    Happy birthday, beautiful lady! As always, I’m loving your blog and pretty photographs of all your sweet treats. *<:)

  6. says

    so i turned 28 this year too and i can’t BELIEVE it’s been 10 years since high school! while i’m so glad things have changed the way they have, i can’t help but feel like i’m still that 18-year-old girl, just cooler now :)

  7. says

    Happy Birthday! Just found your blog and I love it! The cupcakes look delicious! Btw what is the pink font on the first picture? I love it!

  8. says

    Happy birthday! Isn’t it crazy to think how quickly your twenties go? I feel like they’re the era of the most rapid change in your life. Moving away for the first time, meeting new people, getting married (or not), traveling, maybe having kids…it makes the head spin!

    Beautiful pictures of those very delicious looking cupcakes!

  9. says

    Happy birthday Cindy! I turn 28 this year too, and while I’m not obsessed with getting older, I can’t quite shake the disbelief that my 10-year high school reunion is taking place this summer. Ca-razy! Sounds like you’ve had a well-balanced 28 years, cheers to the next 28!

  10. Kathy says

    I just made the cupcakes a little under an hour ago – they are delicious! I reduced the sugar down to a little over 1/3 cup since I’m not that big on sugar and the butter down just a tablespoon. Yum! Thank you for the recipe!!

  11. says

    Happy birthday! I’ve loved seeing your blog grow over the past three years, and following your journeys along the way. Hope it’s a great year!

    • says

      Alana, thanks! I used an extra large, plain, round piping tip to do the frosting. It’s definitely my favorite and so versatile!

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