Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

Clown Vanilla Cupcakes
Photo: Gentl & Hyers

While you can certainly serve these classic vanilla cupcakes frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream as is, kids will love transforming them into festive clowns using gumdrops, cinnamon candy, and sprinkles.


  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 ½ cups sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 ¼ cups milk

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream for Cupcakes

  • Mini uncoated gumdrops, cinnamon candy, and chocolate and multicolored sprinkles, for decorating


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and beat in vanilla.

  2. Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.

  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.

  4. For the hat, score a circle in center of cupcake. Cut a cone with knife at an angle, rotating cupcake as you go. Using a wide round piping tip or a resealable plastic bag with one corner cut off, pipe buttercream into the cavity and on top for the head. Use gumdrops for the collar and a cinnamon candy for the nose; insert chocolate sprinkles for eyes. Use more buttercream and multicolored sprinkles to create a pom-pom for the hat.

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