These cupcakes remind me of when I was a kid and my mom would take me to Sizzler for any and all special occasions because it was my absolute favorite restaurant. All you can eat salad bar with breaded and fried chicken wings (no sauce), build your own tacos/nachos, and all you can eat shrimp? You can’t go wrong with any of that. Back to these Black and White Cupcakes though, they remind me of those trips to Sizzler because at the end of the all I could eat binge-a-thon, I would then turn to the dessert table, convincing myself to make room for even more food, but let’s be honest, I didn’t have to work that hard to convince myself to eat dessert. I was a kid for crying out loud. I’d always have the chocolate and vanilla frozen yogurt swirled together, as much as the cup could feasibly hold. I’d then top it with hot fudge sauce and sprinkles and chopped nuts. That swirl of chocolate and vanilla reminds me of the frosting on top of these cupcakes. That’s not where the inspiration came from though. These were born out of my love of black and white cookies. The classic New York cookie, but in cupcake form. Definitely something you can get behind and should right away.
This post is dedicated to my fiancé, who has a birthday today! We had to celebrate earlier in the week because I’m currently in New Orleans working, but before I left I made these cupcakes for him because if there is something that Julian can not get enough of it’s sweets. The man has the biggest sweet tooth I’ve ever seen, and so that he wouldn’t be faced with the difficult decision of choosing between chocolate or vanilla, I figured the best thing to do is combine the two together into one cupcake. The best of both worlds. So Happy Birthday to the greatest fiancé on earth who never minds running out to grab an ingredient that I’ve inevitably forgotten. And always acts like everything I’ve cooked or baked is the greatest thing he’s ever eaten, even if we both know it’s not. Constantly saying, “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten,” after each and every time he eats the food I put on the table. Everything can’t be the best thing he’s ever eaten, but it doesn’t stop him from saying it, and secretly I wouldn’t want him to. You can bet that after he ate one of these cupcakes, like clockwork, they were the best cupcakes he’s ever eaten. So you have to make and eat them for yourself, as a birthday gift to Julian. It’s what he would want.
(P.S. Napoleon was not having the moment. Not having the cupcakes. NOT HAVING ANY OF IT!)
Let’s begin this whole situation by making the cake batter. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer (or a large bowl using a handheld mixer) cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
**Note: Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula in between mixing so that everything is mixed properly.**Stir in the vanilla extract and sour cream until evenly combined.
**Note: The sour cream gives this cake a good crumb and texture, but if you’d like you can also use plain yogurt instead!**Add in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. So a third of the dry, half of the buttermilk, third of the dry, remaining buttermilk and then remaining buttermilk.
**Tip: Be sure to mix until just incorporated after each addition, so as to prevent over-mixing of the batter.**Melt some bittersweet chocolate with a tablespoon of brewed coffee over a double boiler until melted through, smooth and glossy. You can also nuke it in the microwave in short 15 second bursts until melted through.
**Note: The brewed coffee really brings out and enhances the chocolate flavor. If you have some coffee leftover from the morning or have instant espresso or coffee granules, you can mix it with a bit of water and use that. But if you don’t have either, feel free to omit it all together. The chocolate by itself will be great.**Divide the batter in half and then fold in the melted and cooled chocolate into one half of the batter until evenly combined and well incorporated.
**Tip: Fold it in using a rubber spatula, making sure not to mix too much or too rapidly in a stirring motion.**
Then transfer both the vanilla and chocolate batters into two separate pastry bags, and pipe out into a prepared cupcake tin. Pipe out half of each batter into each cupcake cavity, filling up each about 3/4 of the way up.
**Tip: I’m using disposable pastry bags throughout this entire recipe. You can find them online here! Or you can also just use large food storage bags with the end snipped off. That works fine here too!**Bake until puffed up, golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cook for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
**Note: It’s crucial that the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. Make the earlier so that they cool down with enough time. Or you can place them in the fridge or freezer to cool faster.**To make the vanilla buttercream, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and heavy cream or milk until light and fluffy. You want it to be spreadable and fluffy at the same time. Transfer the frosting to a bowl.
**Note: If the frosting is too thick, add in a bit more heavy cream or milk (a little at a time) until the desired consistency is reached.**To make the chocolate buttercream, cream together the butter, cocoa, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, espresso powder, and heavy cream or milk until fluffy and light. Again, if need be, you can add more heavy cream as needed.
**Note: There’s no need to clean out the bowl from the vanilla frosting. That’s why you want to make the vanilla first, since it won’t matter when you go and make the chocolate right after.**Transfer each frosting into a separate piping bag. Then pipe both into ONE large piping bag, fitted with a plain circle tip, so that you end up with both the chocolate and the vanilla buttercream in one bag. Pipe out the swirled frosting onto each cupcake. Then sprinkle with black and white sprinkles on top, to really bring together the idea of black and white cookies. I just used chocolate jimmies and white sparkling sugar on top. I really like that difference of texture on the cupcakes. Allow the frosting to set before eating the cupcakes. Serve them at room temperature. If you have any leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just leave them out at room temperature to soften a bit before eating. If you want to make these in advance, here’s how you can go about it. I’d recommend baking off the cupcakes. Letting them cool completely, then storing in the freezer in freezer bags until ready to frost. The cupcakes can stay in frozen for up to 3 months. Then when you’re ready to decorate, let them thaw in the fridge the night before and then come to room temperature for a few hours before frosting and decorating. If you want to keep things simple, since the cupcakes are interesting enough with both flavors, then you can totally just make a double batch of either frosting and frost the cupcakes with only chocolate or only vanilla. That would be great as well.
**Note: I like the visual component of having both flavors on top, as well as in the inside, so if you have the time, I high recommend doing both.**
These are great as birthday cupcakes or just everyday cupcakes if you feel like putting in the effort for a random weekday, or turn it into a weekend project with friends or family.
**Note: If you want to take a little help from the store, you can make the cupcakes from scratch and then use store bought frosting instead of making both from scratch as well. That would be okay too. I’m just trying to make it as easy as possible for you. Although if you make it all from scratch, you can definitely do it!**
I made these for Julian’s birthday earlier in the week, since I’m in New Orleans during his birthday. Because of this, I of course had to stick some candles in them and sing to him early on to make up for it.
These cupcakes aren’t that sweet, which I think is key when it comes to desserts, so you have to give them a try very soon! Make them this weekend, even if you don’t have a special occasion to celebrate or anything at all. Just make them because you deserve a treat. We all do.
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoons brewed coffee (optional)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
- Black and White sprinkles for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard cupcake pan with muffin liners, set aside.
- Melt the chocolate and coffee (if using) over a double boiler until smooth and glossy. Let cool slightly and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand-mixer, cream the butter until light, about 3 minutes. Slowly stream in the granulated sugar and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Stir in the vanilla extract and sour cream. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined after each addition to avoid over-mixing the batter.
- Transfer half of the batter to a separate bowl and fold in the melted chocolate until evenly combined. Then transfer both the chocolate batter and vanilla batter into two separate pastry bags, fitted with plain large circle tips. (Or you can use a large plastic food storage bag with the end snipped off). Pipe out the batter into the prepared cupcake pan, piping out half vanilla and half chocolate batter into each. You want to pipe out the batters about 3/4 of the way up. Bake until golden brown, puffed up and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the vanilla buttercream, cream the butter on high until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla and mix on low until combined. Then beat on high and slowly stream in enough heavy cream until the desired consistency is reached. It should be fluffy and spreadable. Beat on high for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- To make the chocolate buttercream, using the same bowl as the vanilla buttercream, beat the butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla, and espresso and mix on low until evenly combined. Stream in enough heavy cream until desired consistency is reached. It should be fluffy and spreadable. Beat on high for about 3 minutes.
- To frost the cupcakes, transfer the vanilla and chocolate buttercream to two separate piping bags (or plastic food storage bags). Then pipe them both, at the same time, into one large pastry bag fitted with a plain circle tip. Then pipe out the swirled frosting on top of each cupcake. Top with white and black sprinkles and enjoy! Eat at room temperature or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Leave out the cupcakes at room temperature before eating.
- Yield: 12 cupcakes