Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Buttercream

I tested these cupcakes last weekend as round two of recipe testing for the wedding cupcakes I’m making in less than a month (!!!). I wanted to try a yellow cupcake recipe, just to have some variety for the guests if (heaven forbid) anyone attending doesn’t like chocolate (seems impossible, but you always have to be prepared!) I had a list a mile long of potential recipes to try, but also had lots of buttermilk I wanted to use, so I settled on this Martha Stewart recipe for Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes. When I was picking out a recipe I came upon this great cupcake comparison on Can You Stay For Dinner, which featured a comparison between white and yellow cupcakes.  Had there been sour cream sitting in the fridge, I would’ve loved to make the Cooks Illustrated yellow cake recipe from that blog post, but went for this recipe instead, and was so not disappointed in my choice.

These cupcakes turned out really well. I think when you’re making cupcakes it’s important to consider the factors that are most important to you, because there are a lot of variations in flavor and texture, and some cupcakes may be better for a certain occasion than others. Since these are to be served at a wedding, I want a cupcake that does not crumble too much, that is portable and sturdy, but still tasty. These cupcakes are precisely what I was looking for – firm enough to keep their shape when being picked up and bitten into, but still tender and moist. They have a distinct yellow cake flavor – more egg-y than sweet, and a bit more dense than say a white vanilla cupcake might be, but they are the absolute perfect mechanism for transporting delicious frosting.

I’m tempted to try another yellow cake recipe even though these came out so great,  because, I mean, why not?! I should probably try making a more sophisticated buttercream, as lately I have been so lazy and gone the super simple route (butter, sugar, chocolate), but I want to have options should I change my mind as the dates draws closer. I’m thinking it’s high time to make some Swiss Meringue Buttercream – anyone have a favorite frosting flavor?! I think I will do basic/traditional vanilla and chocolate flavors for the wedding, but it never hurts to get creative.

Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes


  • 3 cups cake flour, (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2) With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

3) Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Dark Chocolate Buttercream

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1) Whip butter until light and fluffy, about one minute.

2) Gradually add confectioners sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, and incorporate fully before adding more. I never measure the sugar I put in – I just keep adding until it stops tasting like a stick of butter, and before it tastes sickeningly sugary.

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