Surprise Party + Cupcakes

A close friend of mine from school is moving to Australia over the summer, so some friends and I decided to throw a surprise party for her. Since I needed an excuse to bake anyway, I volunteered to do the cake baking for the party.

I’d recently found an incredibly delicious-looking recipe for chocolate cupcakes from the New York Times. Since some people (although I don’t know why) dislike chocolate, I decided to choose another white or vanilla cupcake recipe. And so, I turned to my trustiest source for recipes: Bon Appétit. Within seconds I found a simple recipe for yellow cupcakes. For the frosting on the yellow cupcakes, I chose another recipe from the NYT based on a recipe from Magnolia Bakery in NYC.

I decided to make that frosting recipe early, but I was extremely disappointed. The frosting was way too sweet even when I only put in half the sugar. I tried to salvage the frosting, but I could not make the icing thick enough without making it even more sickly sweet. So, I turned back to Bon Appétit to find a new frosting recipe. I chose a cream cheese frosting to put on top of the yellow cupcakes.

Making the cupcakes:

Making the cakes and toppings for both recipes was relatively simple although I had to wash the bowl on my stand mixer three times throughout the process. If possible, I would only make the cakes the day before and make the frosting and ganache the next day; however, I was unable to make the frosting on the day of the party.

While baking, I listened to my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. If you have Spotify and haven’t tried this feature yet, I highly recommend trying it out. The songs on my playlist are usually songs that I wouldn’t find on my own, but ones that I end up loving.

Here are the recipes I used:

Notes and Reviews on the Cupcakes:


About the chocolate cupcakes: Most of my friends loved the chocolate cupcakes, especially the chocolate ganache. Usually, I love chocolate, but I found these cakes to be a little dry and lacking a strong chocolate flavor. All in all, I’d find a different chocolate cupcake recipe for the next time. The biggest take-away from this recipe is using chocolate ganache instead of frosting is delicious.


About the yellow cupcake: The cupcake was perfectly fluffy, light and flavorful with the perfect amount of tang from the buttermilk. My dad, who usually hates cupcakes, asked to keep some for ourselves. I’d make this recipe again in a heartbeat. Something to note, the recipe made over 24 cupcakes, and they were huge, so the recipe could probably make three dozen average sized cupcakes.

About the cream cheese frosting: This recipe was a great take on the classic recipe. If you’re looking for a solid basic frosting recipe, I’d go with this one.

General notes:

I learned my lesson the hard way: stick to Bon Appétit because anything else just isn’t as consistent (I don’t doubt that other websites have good recipes, but I have yet to find a site that is more consistently good without being as complicated or expensive as Cook’s Illustrated).

Party photo
photo credit: Kristin Ankoma-Sey

The party was a huge success, and people loved the cupcakes!





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