Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Malt Buttercream Frosting

I adore cupcakes, but sometimes they can be a bit…unwieldy.  Gasp!  I know, I just admitted that. Publicly.  But it’s true.

Some of the “regular-sized” cupcakes can be a bit too much of a good thing, as the standard size has seemingly expanded over time.  If the cupcake is larger than the palm of my hand, it is going to require a plate, cutlery, and possibly it’s own zip code.  Most importantly, it’s going to require a commitment.  A commitment to finish the whole thing in one sitting, because there really isn’t a graceful way to save a half-eaten cupcake for later, and it would be downright shameful to abandon it.  Who needs a forlorn cupcake on their conscience?

At the end of a good meal, sometimes all you want are just a few bites of something celebratory.  Or maybe several bites of something celebratory. Either way, these perfectly proportioned minis have got you covered.

These little cakes are fluffy and moist, with a fine crumb and subtle vanilla flavor.  In short, the perfect, tasty foundation piece – terrific with nearly any topping.  They are a snap to make (about 30 minutes from start to finish) and can handily be made in advance. Just pop a batch or two in the freezer (unfrosted) and remember to unwrap before defrosting. Then top and decorate as desired.  Here, I’ve paired them with a rich and airy chocolate malt buttercream.

So have one, or two, or six – and celebrate!

Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Malt Buttercream Frosting
Makes about 30 mini cupcakes, cakes slightly adapted from CosmoCookie, here.  

Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 egg whites
3/4 cup superfine sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Malt Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
nonpareils, for garnish

For the cupcakes:  Line cupcake pans with paper liners and preheat oven to 350℉.  In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.  In another bowl, combine the milk and egg whites and whisk together.  Set aside.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add vanilla extract and one third of the reserved flour mixture and mix until well combined.  Continue beating, adding in half of the reserved milk and egg mixture until well combined.  Alternate adding in half of the flour mixture, the remaining milk/egg mixture, and the rest of the flour mixture again, beating until well combined after each addition.  The batter should be smooth in consistency.

Divide batter evenly among the cupcake pans, filling each liner about  three-quarters full (approximately one and a half tablespoons per liner).   Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from pans immediately and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:  In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter for a few minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy.  Turn off the mixer, and sift in powdered sugar, cocoa and malted milk powder.  On low speed, resume mixing until well incorporated.  Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt and heavy whipping cream, and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Chill frosting for a few minutes in the refrigerator, then pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish as desired.  Frosted cupcakes will keep in an airtight container for three to four days, refrigerated.

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