There is no cake more nostalgic to me than yellow cake with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles. It’s the birthday cake my mom made for me every year growing up and although it was tradition for her to bake it in a casserole dish (with box mix and canned frosting), I whipped up a from-scratch version that’s just as delicious and takes me right back to my childhood! The layer cake version is here, but I whipped up this cupcake recipe just in case you want to whip up a tinier rendition of the same great recipe!
These yellow cupcakes are extra moist, have the perfect fluffy crumb, and are naturally yellow in color due to egg yolks in the recipe. In my humble opinion, these are as close to a box mix as you can get texture-wise, but taste even better with these from-scratch ingredients. If you’ve never had yellow cake before and are wondering what they taste like, just imagine an extra moist vanilla cake. The only real difference is that classic yellow color.
I always pair yellow cake with chocolate frosting, which gives it a great balance of chocolate and vanilla flavor (plus it’s tradition!). The chocolate buttercream pictured here is my absolute favorite – rich and decadent, silky smooth, and simple to make. It’s also the perfect consistency for piping the swirls onto these cupcakes! I used Wilton Tip 1M for these swirls but you could use any piping tip you usually decorate cupcakes with, or simply spread the frosting on with a spatula or butter knife.
Immediately after piping the swirls, I added some rainbow sprinkles onto each cupcake to give them that extra nostalgic look. I used these rainbow sprinkles but I also love this mix by SprinklePop and was a little sad when I realized I didn’t have them on hand for this batch. Don’t worry, I got over it as soon as I bit into one of these cupcakes and felt the worries of the world melt away.
Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
- 1 1/4 Cups (132g) sifted cake flour* DIY recipe in notes
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp (82g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 Tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
- 3/4 Cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 2 Tbsp (30g) sour cream, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 Cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
- 1 Cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 Cups (360g) powdered sugar
- 1/2 Cup (45g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp (45ml) whole milk, room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt, or to taste
- 1/4 Cup (50g) rainbow sprinkles (optional)
Make the Yellow Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF/177ºC and line a cupcake pan with 12-15 liners.
- Add the sifted cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (a handheld mixer works fine too!), cream the butter for on high for two minutes until it's light and fluffy. Add vegetable oil and sugar, then continue to mix on med-high for another two minutes. Add the whole egg and egg yolk and mix until well combined. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix for one minute on high, scraping down the bowl and paddle once more.
- With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, then continue mixing while you add the milk in a slow stream. Mix until just incorporated, then scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give it a few stirs to make sure there are no lumps (without over-mixing). The batter will be thick.
- Spoon the yellow cake batter into the cupcake liners, filling each one between 1/2 and 2/3 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool fully before frosting.
Make the Chocolate Buttercream
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter on high speed until creamy and light in color, about five minutes. Scrape down the bowl and paddle and turn the mixer to low, then add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Continue mixing on low speed until fully combined and uniform, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed.
- When the cupcakes are fully cooled, fit a piping bag with Wilton Tip 1M. Fill the piping bag with the chocolate buttercream and pipe a swirl onto each cupcake. Garnish with rainbow sprinkles.
- The yellow cupcakes can be baked, cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap, and left out at room temperature up to one day ahead of decorating. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two months before thawing and frosting.
- The chocolate buttercream can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day. Alternatively, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and re-mix with your stand mixer to bring back to frosting consistency.
- The frosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature in a box for up to 5 days (they will be the most fresh up to 2 days).
Did you make these cupcakes? I want to know how it went! Leave a comment below and feel free to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram to show me. I love to see what you create!