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1st B-day cupcakes & frosting?

I am going to be making the cupcakes and frosting for my son's 1st b-day in Oct. I love baking and really want to make everything from scratch. Only problem is I have not found a good "moist" recipe for vanilla cupcakes. I had given up and tried to make a box cake today with yellow cake and added an extra egg and instead of oil used butter. Bleh I didn't care for the results and would really rather make it from scratch. I am open to a different cupcake flavor as well just no chocolate cupcakes (boyfriend does not eat chocolate)

I have made a vanilla buttercream that my boyfriend loved. I thought it was just ok. Thought it tasted a little "too" buttery but it was nice and creamy and piped very nicely. I would like something that is sweet and doesn't leave that buttery feeling on your lips.

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  1. Who is this cupcake for again? A one year-old?

    3 Replies
    1. re: DPGood

      i think DPG is right....the one year old isnt going to care.......

      we did a "smoosh" cake for our daughter at 1 ..she wore more of it than ate it...

      1. re: srsone

        Yeah, something that wears well and looks good on the floor and all over gramma's new blouse.

      2. re: DPGood

        The cupcakes are for the guests of the party. I will be making 4 dozen cupcakes.
        My son will have his own sugar free "smooth cake"

      3. Does it need to be vanilla? I just did this banana cake for my grandson's 1st. Everyone loved it. I didn't have any myself but the rich aroma of banana when it came from the oven was intoxicating. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

        I chose banana since it's one of his favorites. And I used a chocolate buttercream instead of the cream cheese suggested by epicurous. The pix of him with chocolate spread from chin to forehead and ear to ear are priceless! ;>

        3 Replies
        1. re: rainey

          No it doesn't have to be vanilla - I just figured you can't go wrong with vanilla with the guests. Not everyone likes chocolate (esp. my boyfriend) and i have a few guests that are allergic to strawberry - I found a recipe for a chocolate chip cupcake that I was thinking of trying. But basically I would like a "moist" cupcake with a nice sweet (not too sweet) icing.

          1. re: chelle1019

            Well, it was *absolutely* moist. ...even when I baked the layers a week ahead and froze them to await final prep of the filling and frosting and then assembly.

            1. re: rainey

              Thank you Rainy.. i do love banana bread and I'm sure it would be a change rather then vanilla cupcakes.

        2. My friend and I made these for her daughter's 1st b-day 2 years ago. They were tasty.


          5 Replies
          1. re: Jen76

            Thank you - I will check them out. Did you use her buttercream recipe as well?

            1. re: chelle1019

              To be honest, I cannot remember the frosting at all. If it wasn't that recipe, then it was a basic cream cheese frosting. I usually do something like this: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/crea...

              1. re: Jen76

                I was thinking of doing a cream cheese frosting instead of buttercream. Just wansn't sure how it would taste on vanilla cupcakes. And if it will hold up for piping and placing a cookie or a piece of white chocolate on top. Like one of the pictures below. I made a cupcake tower and i would like to place cupcakes on each level - spelling out HAPPY BIRTHDAY GABRIEL.

                1. re: chelle1019

                  Chelle, unless someone else knows otherwise I don't think you can keep cream cheese frosting out very long and you would need space in your fridge; not too convenient for cupcakes. Are the photos you posted with cream cheese frosting? I don't think it would hold up as well at room temperature as a buttercream or the boiled frosting posted below.

                  1. re: chelle1019

                    If you want something along the lines of cream cheese but not as much tang, you could do a mascarpone frosting instead.

            2. Paula Deen has a great red velvet cake recipe!
              My mom just recently made a coconut cream cake by Emeril.
              We omitted the ground pecans and you can barely taste the coconut. I thought the cake was a white cake at first.
              This is a vanilla cupcake I made today, but I used caramel frosting instead. It's nice and moist.
              Good Luck :)

              4 Replies
              1. re: Laurenjo28

                Personally, I would *never* give a kid all the artificial food dye of a Red Velvet Cake but then I wouldn't eat anything that lurid myself.

                Caramel frosting sounds delicious! Do you have a link for that?

                1. re: rainey

                  To each his own! :)

                  Paula Deen recipe again haha. I know how some Chowhounds feel about her :P
                  Anyway, the frosting is good, but not great. I think that was due to the fact that I only had light brown sugar instead of dark. It has potential.

                  1. re: Laurenjo28

                    "To each his own! :)

                    Truer words were never spoken! ;> I'm glad I didn't offend. I just don't get how that could be appetizing or acceptable even if I'm the only person on the planet that isn't currently in love with it.

                    Thanks for the other link. ;>

                    1. re: rainey

                      Well, the "old school" way to make red velvet is to use beet juice. ;) But, red velvet cake is essentially red-colored chocolate cake, which you said you didn't want anyhow.

              2. The vanilla bean cupcakes with salted caramel frosting on Chow recipes are wonderful, and the cake not dry at all. Give these a try:


                1 Reply
                1. re: janniecooks

                  Putting that salted caramel icing in my DB right now! I think I'll sub some of the caramel Godiva liqueur for the vanilla. I like the punch and complexity that liqueurs add.

                  Sounds easy and good and I think it would be perfect with the banana cake above next time I make it.

                  Thanks for the link.

                2. Magnolia cupcakes have been my favorite vanilla one so far:


                  The buttercream is your basic buttery frosting, though. Have you tried torontojo's boiled frosting? It tastes like a rich whipped cream to me.


                  10 Replies
                  1. re: chowser

                    +1 on the Magnolia Bakery recipe and often use both vanilla and chocolate for birthday cake as well.

                    @op, these cupcakes are very easy to handle. The vanilla cupcakes taste like sugar cookies and they're moist. The chocolate ones have a lighter chocolate flavor which we prefer and only uses pure chocolate in the batter.

                    1. re: lilgi

                      I haven't tried the chocolate ones but will have to look for the recipe. I do like the chocolate ones from their shop, or did years ago.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Let me know how you like them and how they compare to the ones at the shop. My son is the only one here that has had the ones from the bakery. I think my preferences for chocolate have changed over the years as I no longer prefer dense chocolate except for brownies. These most definitely have a lighter chocolate flavor/feel, are sweet and very moist. I say they have the 'hoodoo' because they constantly beckon me into the kitchen.

                        1. re: lilgi

                          Is this the one you use? I like that it uses both brown sugar and white. I'll give it a try--thanks!


                          1. re: chowser

                            Apologies, I forgot to post it for you. Brown sugar, pure melted chocolate, and buttermilk - all good things ;)

                            1. re: lilgi

                              The Magnolia chocolate cupcakes look so good and I will def. have to put them in my "to try" recipes. I wish i could make them for my son's b-day. I will try the vanilla ones though. I have read some mixed reviews on them but I always like to form my own opinion.

                              1. re: chelle1019

                                Yes reviews are mixed, but if you look at the recipe it really is after all just a basic, good old fashioned recipe that's on the sweeter side. Here it has never disappointed, sometimes it depends on what you want too. Some reviews crack me up though, they make a thousand tweaks before they try the original recipe and then they say 'fail' - gotta love those ;)

                    2. re: chowser

                      Chowser - I actually had this frosting in my "to try" list and I did last night. What a sugary buttery mess. I think I did something wrong...obviously.. :)
                      Maybe I didn't whisk long enough - it was thick but not super thick. I did let it cool completely before adding to butter/sugar mixture and I let the standmixer beat for at least 5 minutes. Nothing sitll just a buttery sugary mess.... Any tips? Also will this be a good frosting to pipe on cupcakes?

                      1. re: chelle1019

                        I had problems at first. The last time I did it, I used the whisk attachment and let it go until it passed the curdy grains and came together. It was longer than 5 minutes but I can't remember how long it was. It piped well w/ a pastry bag.

                        1. re: chowser

                          ok maybe I will try it again tonight... it tasted good except It was just "wrong" lol

                    3. I made a meringue buttercream for my cousin's cupcake party yesterday and it was the best buttercream I'd ever had. Everyone went gaga for it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jaykayen

                        Is the meringue buttercream where you use egg whites? I have 2 recipes "to try" one is a cream cheese frosting and a buttercream with egg whites.
                        Did you pipe it on cupcakes - did it hold up well?

                        1. re: chelle1019

                          Yes, it was 4 egg whites, 1.5 cups sugar, 1 lb. of room temperature butter, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Heat saucepan with two inches of water to gentle boil. In a metal bowl atop the saucepan, whisk by hand egg whites and sugar until mixture is hot to the touch and sugar is dissolved. With electric mixer, whip meringue base until it is room temperature and like marshmallow cream. Once meringue is at room temperature, add butter a few Tb at a time, mixing all the while. Mix on medium-high speed until desired consistency.

                          I really liked it, and my cousin told me it piped well. Everyone else just spread it on by the spoonful.

                          I used Trader Joe's box cake mix, with oil (although there is a butter option) and it definitely doesn't taste like it came from a box.

                      2. are you following the recipes as written?

                        Based upon your approach with the box mix, I get the impression you're substituting ingredients (eliminating fat) and wondering why the cupcakes are not turning out moist. Fat/oil adds moisture to a cake.

                        For a frosting that's not as buttery, you can use sweetened whipped cream for a lighter, fluffier topping.

                        For cupcake recipes, I usually go to...

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: dave_c

                          I was thinking a stabilized whipped cream frosting would be good, too--maybe a mascarpone whipped cream frosting like this one. There's such a nice lightness to it, plus it can be easily flavored.


                          1. re: chowser

                            The mascarpone looks yummy.... can I find that cheese in any grocery store is that a specialty?

                            1. re: chelle1019

                              I can find it at Safeway and Giant. The best price in my area is Trader Joe's.

                          2. re: dave_c

                            dave_c: I don't really care for box cake's and I really didn't want that "taste". But I read online that if you add an extra egg and use butter instead of oil it would make the box cake taste better. So that's what I did and they did come out moist - I just didn't like the way they tasted.
                            I will check out the two sites above and see what I can find. Thank you

                          3. I tried this recipe from the "Extra Virgin" cooking show; super moist, none of the excess that comes from frosting, and delish---they were made on the show for a kid-friendly party. The ingredient list includes dark chocolate, but you could easily sub. for your boyfriend. Less messy for grandma's blouse, too. :-)

                            OOh, duh..the link.