Happy spring, people! Well, technically spring doesn’t start until March 20, but who cares? It feels like spring to me! I went on a nice evening run today as the sun was setting, and I saw loads of pear tree blossoms, cherry tree blossoms, daffodils—even plenty of the so-called “weeds” growing on our lawn. Do any of you just love those tiny flowers that start growing around this time but are actually considered weeds? Because I do! Ah, technicalities again.
And now it’s St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow! It’s really crept up quickly this year. (Um, wasn’t it just Valentine’s Day?) Anyways, I had time after school today to work on a recipe just for this everything-green occasion. And let me tell you, it is very much so, at the point of almost being over-the-top, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day! Cupcakes with swirls of green frosting, green and white sprinkles, and a surprise rainbow inside (channel the leprechauns’ path to gold pots)—could it get any more festive and cute?
It’s quite simple, really: creamy vanilla frosting tinted green, vanilla cupcake batter tinted five different shades and layered before baking. These cupcakes turn out so moist due to all the buttermilk and melted butter! Trust me, they are so worth the time to make when comparing them to store-bought or boxed-mix cupcakes. These cupcakes are anything from bland or dry, and the flavors aren’t masked by an excess of sugar either.
So this is the run-down of the recipe: Make the batter. Along with the dry ingredients, you’ll use melted butter, buttermilk, an egg yolk, three egg whites, and plenty of vanilla. Hold up! You may be thinking, Why egg whites? Well, the egg whites are really just an extra step in the process to making these supremely fluffy cakes. You whip them up at the end, and then fold them gently into the batter. Extra air, extra fluff. That’s all!
Next you will divide the batter into bowls, color them, and further divvy into cupcake liners—more details on that when you read the recipe.
While they’re baking, you’ll make the frosting: starting with cold butter, which will allow for the heavy cream to whip up when you add it later on. The only other ingredients in the frosting are a little bit of salt to balance the sweet, some vanilla, and powdered sugar. You can tint it your desired shade of green and then prepare the piping bag.
When you’re piping, be sure to pile that frosting on there. No one likes cupcakes that have been skimped out on frosting! It may be messier to eat, but that’s okay—hey, if you wear your green frosting on your face nobody can pinch you! 😉
St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
Prep Time 55 minutes
Total Time 70 minutes
For the Cupcakes
1 ¼ cups cake flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk and 3 egg whites, separated and at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup melted unsalted butter
½ cup buttermilk at room temperature
Assorted food coloring
For the Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
3 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream, cold
Green food coloring
Sprinkles for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 12 paper cupcake liners in cupcake tray.
- Make the batter: Melt the butter in the microwave, set aside to let cool. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the egg yolk, granulated sugar, and vanilla on low speed for about thirty seconds, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add the (now around room temperature) melted butter and mix until combined. Being careful not to overmix, add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined, scraping down sides as necessary. Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix until combined, and so forth with the rest of the flour mixture and then the rest of the buttermilk. In a separate medium bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed for about three minutes until fluffy. Fold whites gently into the rest of the batter with a spatula until combined.
- Divide the batter into five separate small bowls, with about 2/3 cup batter in each bowl. Color each bowl with food coloring as desired, adding more drops to increase the intensity of color. However, you don’t want to overmix the batter, so minimize stirring as much as possible. (I did one bowl colored red, one yellow, one green, one blue, and one purple.) Starting with the coolest color (for me it was purple), divide the bowl’s contents into the 12 cupcake liners. You will use around 2 teaspoons of the given color in each liner. Continue to add the other bowls of batter on top of the initial layer in the backwards rainbow order, until all the batter is used up. (The second layer for mine was blue, then green, and so on.)
- Bake the cupcakes for 13-16 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. Let cupcakes cool in pan for several minutes and then remove to cool completely on wire racks.
- Make the frosting: Cut the butter into cubes and place in a large bowl. Beat the butter on high speed with a hand-held mixer or paddle attachment for 5-7 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add 1 ½ cups of the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Add the salt and vanilla and mix until combined. Next, add the remaining 1 ½ cups powdered sugar to the frosting and beat for 3-4 minutes on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the whipping cream and mix for another 4-5 minutes to beat air into the frosting, and then beat in the green food coloring to desired shade.
- Frost the cupcakes: Place frosting in piping bag with desired tip. (I used a star-shaped one to acquire the ridges in the swirls.) Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes by starting from the inside, and then swirling out and up to form a slight peak. Top with sprinkles.
a. Frosted cupcakes, if to be served in the next 24 hours, can be left at room temperature in an airtight container. Otherwise, frosted cupcakes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, and should be taken out of the refrigerator an hour before serving to bring back to room temperature.
b. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to three days in an airtight container. Frosting can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Bring it back to room temperature and beat it for 5 minutes again before piping onto cupcakes.
c. If serving at an outdoors event, make sure to keep cupcakes out of direct sunlight and heat as the frosting will melt.