Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting
If you're one to equate vanilla with plain and boring, this recipe will change your opinion. A touch of butter adds rich, luxurious flavor to the meringue, but, if you prefer a fluffy, snow-white cap, omit the butter as we did for the photo. Garnish with your favorite colorful sprinkles for an added burst of color and creativity to these effortlessly simple desserts. Check out our chocolate and red velvet variations, as this recipe makes for a great starting board for other, more complex cupcakes. The best part is, at only 174 calories, these cupcakes are going to be your new go-to desserts for special occasions, without all the guilt of typical party fare.
Amaretto Apple Streusel CupcakesFavorite Cupcakes
Top tender apple cupcakes with a sweet and crunchy topping of brown sugar and almonds, then drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze. The amaretto adds an even more distinct almond flavor to the cupcakes, but if you don't have it, you can use almond extract instead.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
The frosting takes this red velvet cupcake recipe from great to fantastic. The secret? Use real butter and real cream cheese. The results are mouthwateringly good. Recognizable by it's vibrant hue, red velvet cupcakes carry a rich, decadent chocolate flavor that stands up perfectly with a thick cream cheese frosting. Whether the occasion is a birthday, Valentine's day, or a dire chocolate emergency, this beautiful cupcakes are the perfect indulgent treat. Make sure to let the cupcakes completely cool once taken out of the oven so that the heat does not compromise the flavor and texture of your cream cheese frosting.
Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes
Lemon and blueberry flavors give these cupcakes a great, fruity taste with a hint of acidity. Blueberries or fresh, edible flowers make an easy, pretty decoration that will leave your guests thinking you bought your desserts at an elegant pastry shop. The cream cheese icing adds a dense, rich flavor without overpowering the floral notes of the cupcakes. The cupcake batter combines buttermilk and 2% milk to create a fluffy, airy cupcake that is moist, but not overly heavy. Wait to make these while it's peak blueberry season for the freshest fruit and the sweetest, tastiest berries.
Chocolate Chip Angel Cupcakes with Fluffy Frosting
Mini chocolate chips are dispersed in these adorable individual angel food cakes—a perfect choice for a birthday party, holiday or shower. Angel food cake originated in America and it is a type of sponge cake that is made with stiffly beaten egg whites and no butter is added to maintain that signature light, fluffy texture. Topped with a sweet, simple frosting and a crunchy layer of toasted coconut provides added texture and an unexpected nutty flavor that complements the chocolate chip cupcake wonderfully. Cream of tartar is added to both the batter and frosting, as it is an acidic component of baking that stabilizes the egg white components and keeping them from texturally collapsing.
These cupcakes are easy to make, and because simple ingredients are used, it's best to purchase premium cocoa powder and dark chocolate. This way, you're making sure that you're getting the purest, richest chocolate flavor. Since they're studded with dark chocolate chunks, just dusting them with powdered sugar is enough to decorate these treats, as it adds a subtle, professional-looking touch. Bake them in muffin cup liners. A dozen of these will go fast so be sure to bake an extra batch or two. Make these chocolatey delights for that special someone on Valentine's Day, or bring them to a potluck or special holiday event.
Double Ginger Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze
Dried and fresh ginger heighten the flavor of these cupcakes, making these treats perfect for die-hard ginger-lovers. Ground allspice and molasses add depth and complexity to these intensely flavorful desserts. They rise best when baked in foil liners, although they can be made directly in the tin or with a paper liner. Start with three teaspoons lemon juice when making the glaze, and add the extra teaspoon if you want a thinner consistency. Letting the cupcakes cool completely is not necessary, as the warmth of the cupcake helps the glaze run and set atop the cupcakes, creating a warm, runny glaze that partially melts into the cake.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Frosting Cupcakes
Cream cheese and peppermint candies yield a mildly sweet, tangy frosting that complements the rich, chocolaty cupcakes. Great for the holidays, the peppermint candy topping is seasonal, minty fresh, and make for a beautiful presentation. You can also go ahead and mix the candies directly into the frosting to infuse the cream cheese icing with that fresh minty flavor. The cupcakes maintain a light, airy texture but also pack an indulgent, chocolate flavor. Nobody will suspect that these cupcakes are low in fat as the texture is still moist and full of flavor.
Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes
Top these lemon-scented angel food cupcakes with tiny edible pansy blossoms or rosebuds for decoration. Angel food cake omits the addition of butter and gets its soft, spongy texture from egg whites and cream of tartar. The burst of citrus adds a delightfully acidic flavor profile that brings a brightness to any dessert food. Store extra cupcakes in an airtight container, or send them home with guests as party favors. Your guests will never know that the frosting is made with 1% milk and that each cupcake clocks in at a surprisingly low 144 calories.
Walnut Cupcakes with Maple Frosting
Toasted walnuts steal the show in this nutty dessert that features a maple frosting that is light as a feather. Unlike their full-fat cousins, which get their softness from oil and butter, light cakes rely less on fat and more on sugar and liquids. More sugar minimizes the development of gluten proteins (the primary source of toughness in cakes), but it can also cause excess browning, especially if dairy products are present. Pull the cake from the oven when a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs still clinging to it. Don't forget to save a couple extra toasted walnuts to crumble and sprinkle atop the final product.
Syrup lovers rejoice for these sweet treats, as they're not shy on the maple flavor by any means. These pint-size desserts feature maple syrup in both the cupcake and the frosting, so there's no getting around that oaky, nutty taste. The frosting gets an extra dose of maple goodness thanks to the addition of maple flavoring. Finally, a way to enjoy that unique, maple flavor without suffering through soggy pancakes and sticky fingers. Top these cuties with a walnut or, for a sweet-and-salty twist, crumbled bacon with a smear of peanut butter.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Instant coffee intensifies the chocolate richness of these cupcakes and dense cream cheese frosting adds creamy texture and an indulgent topping. Chocolate lovers can rest assured that these cupcakes pack all of the decadent flavors of chocolate, but using calorie-saving ingredients like fat-free buttermilk, egg substitute, and fat-free cream cheese. If you're hosting a holiday or birthday party, top them off with themed candies or sprinkles. For thicker frosting, cover and chill for 10 minutes before spreading on the cupcakes. Refrigerate frosted cupcakes overnight; cover lightly with plastic wrap, or store them in an airtight container.