Recently, a dear friend asked me to bring cupcakes to a women’s event, and I started thinking about a cupcake recipe that would appeal to almost anyone. Chocolate chip is the most popular cookie flavor, I thought, so why not chocolate chip cupcakes? A few hours later I had 48 of these cute chocolate chip cupcakes – some for the event, some for neighbors, and a few to keep for myself and my family.
Cupcakes can be a lot of work, so I decided to use a “doctored up” cake mix recipe, spiked with decadent chocolate chips and piled high with vanilla buttercream. I love recipes that take a plain old cake mix and make it special. One of my favorite cookbooks is The Cake Mix Doctor, and I’ve made lots of fun desserts from it over the years. This recipe is not from that book, but it could be.
To make these cupcakes, start with a vanilla cake mix. Yellow cake mix would also work. Make the batter according to package directions, but replace the water with one cup of buttermilk, and replace the oil with 1/2 cup of melted butter. Once you’ve mixed up the batter, fold in a cup of chocolate chips. I swear by Guittard brand chocolate chips, and I use the milk chocolate and semi-sweet mixed together. It’s chocolate chip perfection!
One pitfall when making cupcakes is overfilling or underfilling the cups. You might think there’s no such thing as too much cake batter, but if the cake rises and spills over the edge of the cup, you have a mess on your hands. A 3-tablespoon ice cream scoop is just about the perfect size for scooping cupcake batter.
Another thing that will ruin cupcakes is overbaking them. Overbaking makes cupcakes tough and dry, and even one extra minute can take them over the edge. The cake mix instructions said to bake the cupcakes for 14-19 minutes. I got the best results by baking them for exactly 14 minutes. You might need to bake them a little more, depending on your oven and even the weather where you live. Bake the chocolate chip cupcakes until they spring back when pressed lightly with your finger. The tops will feel just barely dry. Cool your cupcakes completely on a cooling rack or a clean kitchen towel.
The frosting for these cupcakes is Allie’s No-Fail Buttercream Frosting. It’s my all-time favorite buttercream recipe. The “pro tip” in this recipe is to use butter vanilla bakery emulsion instead of vanilla extract. You can use vanilla extract if you prefer.
Create a “signature swirl” of frosting on these cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a jumbo cupcake decorating tip. I like to use the star tip. Finish your cute creations by decorating each one with mini chocolate chips and a mini chocolate chip cookie.
These chocolate chip cupcakes turned out great, and they disappeared fast when I brought them to the event. I love recipes like this one, because these chocolate chip cupcakes are simple but not plain. I was happy to help a dear friend, and I got to enjoy a sweet treat for myself!
Out of the Box Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 1 box vanilla cake mix
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 stick 8 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup chocolate chips
For the frosting:
- 1 stick 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon butter vanilla bakery emulsion or substitute vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream or whipping cream
- Mini chocolate chips for decorating
- Mini chocolate chip cookies for decorating
- Place oven rack in the center position, and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place cupcake papers in the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, place the cake mix, buttermilk, melted butter and eggs.
- Using the stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer, beat the batter on medium speed for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- Beat the batter for 2 more minutes on medium speed until fluffy.
- Divide the batter among the 12 cupcake cups, about 3 tablespoons batter per cup. (An ice cream scoop works well for this.) The cups should be about 2/3 full.
- Bake the cupcakes for 14-17 minutes, until they spring back when touched lightly with your finger.
- Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the buttercream frosting. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat butter on medium speed about 1 minute until smooth.
- Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, and beat until combined. Repeat with 1 more cup.
- Add bakery emulsion and heavy whipping cream and beat until combined.
- Add the remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating until combined after each addition.
- Beat for about one additional minute, until frosting is smooth, thick, and fluffy.
- Using a pastry bag fitted with a jumbo cupcake tip, top each cupcake with a swirl of frosting.
- Sprinkle each cupcake with mini chocolate chips, and top with a mini chocolate chip cookie.