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The Perfect Cupcake

submitted by sarahjane on Jun-5-06
average rating: 2.7 (from 3 votes)
(this recipe is good for dessert)
servings: 12

These cupcakes come from Cooks' Illustrated and do indeed seem perfect, as least to me.    Simple yet sophisticated, they are sure to appeal to adults and kids alike (I can attest to this having just tested them at an all-ages baby shower).  The original recipe makes 12, but I doubled it and it made 24 beautifully.

Chocolate Ganache Icing

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Rainbow sprinkles

Make icing before cupcakes in order to allow it to cool (I actually made it a couple of days in advance, which the original recipe doesn't recommend, but it seemed fine to me).

Bring cream to boil in small saucepan.

Stir in chocolate and whisk until melted and combined

Chill in fridge until cool, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Whip at medium speed until fluffy and mousse-like and mixture forms medium-stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.

If making in advance, return to fridge, but be sure to allow to room temperature before using, as it is very dense.

Reserve rainbow sprinkles for topping.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flower
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
8 tbsp/1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Adjust oven rack to middle position (if baking a double batch, you will have to use two racks and rotate cupcakes halfway through baking).  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cupcake liners (preferably silver) on baking sheet.

Sift together flour and baking powder.  Whisk in salt.

Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Add flour mixture.  Beat until smooth and shiny, about 1 minute.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners using an ice-cream scoop. 

Bake 20-25 minutes until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into centre comes out clean (I would use the latter as your guide as cupcakes probably won't bake evenly and some will be gold and others quite pale - you don't want to overbake these).

Cool on wire rack until room temperature, about 1 hour.

Spread 2-3 generous tbsp icing on each cooled cupcake.  Top with rainbow sprinkles.  Serve.

Julia, Aug-2-06 03:52:20:
Please check that the cupcake batter recipe has been correctly transcribed from the source. What is the correct amount of sugar? It says "2 cup." 2 cups is a disaster- molten mess with sugar cookie centers floating in it. 1 cup is also a disaster- dense, fallen cupcakes with deep pits in the center. Whatever the error, I have used 6 eggs, 2 sticks butter plus other ingredients and still have no cupcakes for the party tomorrow.
sarahjane, Aug-2-06 11:58:06:
Oh, I am so sorry to have wasted your time! I rechecked the recipe and it turns out I made TWO mistakes in transcription: I doubled the sugar and I left out the sour cream. Both of these mistakes have been corrected.

I feel terrible.

But in any case, the recipe should work now, so please do try it again, if you aren't completely fed up.
luvcake2much, Sep-24-06 18:56:51:
Do you have any suggestions to make this recipe a chocolate cake recipe?
laura, Mar-20-07 13:51:49:
These cupcakes were judged "delicious," "perfect," and "incredible" by an unbiased panel of small children (and not so small children) at a cookout, my friend Cecilia, and an engineer named Zaid. I used muffin tins instead of a baking sheet. I'm glad the recipe was corrected by the time I got to it!
laura, Mar-22-07 18:23:57:
quick aside. I somehow had lots of frosting left over, which I placed in the freezer for lack of a better idea (I didn't want to throw it out). In the freezer it turned into a delicious , rich and sinful, frozen mousse, which I ate with raspberries.
sarahjane, Mar-25-07 12:19:03:
Well, I'm very glad this recipe was vindicated despite my embarrassing mistakes! They really are most excellent cupcakes.
steveandsarah, Nov-5-07 04:04:04:
The cupcakes that resulted from this recipe are absolutely delicious. Mine also happened to be woefully misshapen. Although I've always baked cupcakes in muffin tins before, I wanted to make a double batch but I only have one muffin tin. At first I thought I'd just have to make two batches, but then I saw the line in this recipe about "placing liners on the baking sheet," which I took to mean that I needn't use a muffin tin. Mine all spilled over the tops of their cases into rather amusing oblong shapes. Covered with frosting and sprinkles, they still tasted fab, but they were definitely homely in appearance. So now I'm wondering, _is_ it possible to make more, er, perfectly shaped cupcakes without using a muffin pan? (perhaps if I'd used foil liners or had filled the cases less high?)
sarahjane, Nov-5-07 12:18:32:
I've never had a problem with them being misshapen, but then again, I've always used foil liners. That said, I don't see why you couldn't use a muffin tin. Using liners is just what the recipe said.

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