Ace the bake sale: Stir up one batter three ways, then add on buttery icing, plus cute flourishes, for head-of-the-class results.
Buttercream Three Ways
With an electric mixer, beat 8 tablespoons (1 stick) room-temperature unsalted butter until light and fluffy. On medium speed, beat in 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl as necessary. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Increase speed to high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Make Vanilla Buttercream, then beat in 3 to 4 teaspoons seedless raspberry jam.
Place 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Make Vanilla Buttercream, then beat in melted chocolate.
A cupcake just isn't a cupcake without a frosting finish. To make yours as pretty as can be, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to mound about 2 tablespoons of frosting on top of each cooled cupcake. Spread frosting evenly, then finish with a swirl.
Tip-Top Toppings to Try
Mini chocolate chips
Fresh fruit (blueberries, blackberries)
Dried fruit (pineapple, cherries, cranberries)
Salted peanuts, sliced almonds
Colored sanding sugar
Store unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Stash frosting separately in the refrigerator for up to one week, then bring to room temperature and whip again before using.