All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cupcakes with Mini-Chocolate Chips

Summer in Seattle is called payback for all the clouds and rain we endure – it is absolutely spectacular.  The weather for the past week has been nothing short of incredible.  Blue sky, warm temperatures, no humidity (which coming from the east coast is quite a bonus), and just overall pure bliss.  Today we spent the afternoon at our neighborhood pool, and when we checked in, the computer said “Welcome to Paradise” – let me tell you, that’s exactly where we were.  As I am typing this, I still have my bathing suit on, I am just relishing in the fact that summer has finally come.

Now let’s think back to June, when I was singing a much different tune.  My older daughter’s birthday is at the end of May – and this year she wanted to have a pool party.  She is smart enough to know that a pool party at the end of May is laughable, so she requested that her party be at the end of June instead.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that we were still playing with fire on that decision, but it was the only weekend before summer began where the majority of her friends were around.  This year June was one of the worst months I can remember – yes, it was Junuary for the entire month.  We were just hoping for dry skies, the pool is heated, and as long as it was over 60 degrees, we thought we could manage.

The morning of the party, it actually looked like the sun was going to come out, even though they were predicting rain (the weather people are as good at predicting the weather as they are at predicting horse races around here).  About 30 minutes before the party was supposed to start, the skies opened up, and it was an all out downpour.  It was quite something.  Well, that didn’t stop them.  She and all her friends jumped in the water anyway – and they had a grand old-time swimming in the pouring rain.  It was a birthday party to remember.

When it came to making cupcakes, my daughter was pretty sold on the summer beach theme – so we came up with this idea to make sand out of butter cookies, towels out of fruit leather, and a beach ball out of a sour ball.  We bought some of those drink umbrellas, and there was our beach.  We were actually quite pleased with how they turned out.  The cupcakes tasted even better than they looked though…I used a recipe out of The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum, that was just incredible.  It was moist and delicious, and we added mini-chocolate chips just for fun.  I will definitely be making this recipe again – in fact I did so today – for a very very special occasion coming up…just keep your fingers crossed that I get to tell you about it (I am waiting to see how the final product turns out).  So, here’s to summer – may it last at least a few more weeks…come on, we deserve it!!


  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup  milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups sifted cake  flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons  unsalted butter (must be softened)
  • 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for  30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low  speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high  speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop  the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3  batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the  ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake tins lined with papers. Fill them about 3/4 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a  tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

For the frosting recipe, please click here:

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cupcakes with Mini-Chocolate Chips


Marshmallow Frosting (aka 7-Minute Icing)

Remember when I made these and said that two times a year, it is all about the what it looks like – not what it tastes like?  Well, here we are again.  My other daughter’s birthday – and yes, these cupcakes have been in the hopper for a while now.  She knew she wanted to have a sleepover for her birthday, and to go with the theme, she had picked out these sleepover cupcakes from the book, Hello Cupcake.  I have heard this book referred to as “cupcake porn” – and I know why.  The pictures are absolutely ridiculous – you love looking at them, but they are just utterly outrageous.  And to think they make you feel like, yes, you too can make these babies, it’s just absurd. 

So when my daughter came and showed me these cupcakes, I just laughed.  But she begged me, she pleaded – and then she used flattery – she said, “Of course you can make these mommy, you are the best baker ever!”  Ok, how could I say no to that?  I actually had been dreading the party for weeks – wondering how I was going to pull it off.  The weekend before, I went shopping for all the accessories.  The night before I baked the cupcakes.  The night of the party – all I had left to do was make the frosting, then decorate the cupcakes.  At least I could make the frosting…my saving grace.

I decided on a marshmallow frosting – a nice white base for the masterpiece.  I found a 7-minute icing recipe in the book, and I was sold.  The frosting was AMAZING.  I was eating spoonfuls of it while I was decorating the cupcakes – it was an excellent stress release.  I am not suggesting to decorate your cupcakes like this – but if you are looking for an excellent marshmallow frosting that you can make in less than 10 minutes – look no further.


  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Combine the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, water, and cream of tartar in a large bowl.  Set the bowl over the simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

With an electric mixer on high-speed, beat the mixture, still over the simmering water, until thick and fluffy, about 7 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Serve this the day it is made as it becomes granular if it sits.

Makes about 3 cups.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Marshmallow Frosting

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