I made these cupcakes for the dessert table at the 3rd annual U of A Campus Food Bank Mac and Cheese Affair fundraiser! The event was awesome and so well organized - I'm happy to have made this small contribution. The dessert table theme was chocolate or vanilla cupcakes with yellow icing and an assortment of cookies, so I decided on a french vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream (and I also made these Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal Cookies). I was super busy on that day and didn't have time to make everything from scratch, so I took a shortcut and used a boxed cake mix with some modifications. This recipe is a great way to enhance a cake mix by making your cake or cupcakes super moist and giving them a more homemade taste. Because - let's face it - you don't always have the time or the desire to make everything from scratch!
1 box white or french vanilla cake mix
1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk then just mix together 1 Tbsp. vinegar with enough regular milk to make 1 cup in total, then let sit for approx. 10 minutes before using)
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
Combine the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and almond extract (if using) in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, until the batter is well-mixed. Increase speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.
Pour or scoop the batter into the paper liners until they are 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack. Cool completely before icing.
You could also take another shortcut and just use canned icing instead of making your own buttercream icing, but this is such an easy recipe to make that it's worth doing from scratch! If you do opt for store-bought icing then mix in about 1 or 1/2 tsp. of vanilla or almond extract before decorating your cupcakes to give it some extra flavour.
Vanilla Buttercream Icing Recipe
1 and 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3 and 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy (about two minutes). Add one cup of icing sugar, and continue beating until well incorporated into the mix. Repeat with the remaining icing sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, and continue beating until smooth. Add food colouring if desired and mix until combined. Spread out or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
*Recipe by Brooke McMillan