Peppermint Mocha Buttercreams

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsDo you listen to the Stuff You Should Know podcast? My sister turned me onto it a few months ago and it was love at first listen. As my job is very solitary, I spend my days listening to Josh and Chuck talk about all sorts of things I have never given a passing thought. Imagine my surprise to find that yesterday’s episode was about something that I know all about: cake!

Yes, I spend many waking hours thinking about cake. Really. At any given moment, I am thinking about baking, layering, decorating, or eating cake. If you listen to the podcast (which you should!), it sounds like Josh, Chuck, and I may have that in common…the eating part anyway 😉

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsOne thing we definitely agree on though is that we all occasionally eat cake solely as a vehicle for frosting. For some *unknown* reason, it’s socially unacceptable to eat a bowl of frosting, so we eat cake to get our fix 😉 Until now, anyway…

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsEnter buttercream candies: literally frosting coated in chocolate.

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsFrosting. coated. in. chocolate.

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsFrosting for frosting’s sake.

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsIf you’re anything like me (or Josh and Chuck, apparently), this is basically the best news ever. These are the no-bake treat of my dreams.

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsYou can make buttercreams using any flavor of frosting you can imagine–if it can be whipped into buttercream frosting, it can be rolled into candy. As we’re just a few weeks out from Christmas, I’ve decided to go with Peppermint Mocha Buttercreams today 😊

The frosting base of these candies is a classic American chocolate buttercream that I’ve souped up with 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract and some instant espresso. It comes together in just a few minutes and is super fluffy and luxurious.

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsChill the peppermint mocha frosting before scooping it by the teaspoon and rolling it into balls. This is not a glamorous process, but it is helped greatly by coating your hands in confectioner’s sugar.

After another chill, it’s time for a dip in melted chocolate…

Peppermint Mocha Buttercreamsand a smattering of crushed peppermints, or perhaps some holiday sprinkles.

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsPeppermint Mocha ButtercreamsOne more quick chill later, the Peppermint Mocha Buttercreams are ready to eat. And oh, are they good. I mean, how could the combination of a chocolate shell and a melty espresso-mint center be anything but delicious?!

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsThey’re basically holiday perfection in a mouthful.

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsLooking for more Peppermint Mocha? Try my Peppermint Mocha Cookies ❤️💚❤️💚

Peppermint Mocha ButtercreamsPeppermint Mocha Buttercreams
inspired by and heavily adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes about 4 dozen candies

1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
2 teaspoons warm tap water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (NOT mint extract)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
16 ounces dark chocolate (not chocolate chips)
crushed peppermints, for decorating (optional)
sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together espresso granules and warm water. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and peppermint extracts, followed by espresso mixture. Add heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy. Press plastic wrap to the surface of the frosting. Chill one hour in the refrigerator.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Remove chilled frosting from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Scoop frosting by the teaspoon, roll into balls, and place on prepared pan. Coating your palms in confectioner’s sugar may help the rolling process. Chill rolled frosting uncovered for one hour.

Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to chop chocolate. Place in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate in 30 second increments, stirring between, until smooth. Alternatively, melt chocolate in a double boiler. Let cool five minutes.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Remove buttercreams from the refrigerator.

To dip, drop one ball of buttercream into the melted chocolate. Use a fork to coat buttercream in chocolate. Drain briefly by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl. Use the fork to gently lay the buttercream on the prepared pan. Immediately top with crushed peppermints or sprinkles. Continue until all buttercreams have been coated and topped.

Chill buttercreams for at least fifteen minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Funfetti Layer Cake

Funfetti Layer CakeI didn’t have any real reason to make a Funfetti Layer Cake this week. There were no special occasions. Nobody asked for a cake. Today is my dad’s birthday and Sunday is my pal, David’s, but neither of them would have Funfetti as their first choice. Nope.

Funfetti Layer CakeI just made this cake because I felt like it. In the last few weeks, I have stocked up on sprinkles at Sahadi’s and finally made a white cake recipe that I love, and if those two things aren’t enough reason to slap together a layer cake this cheerful…well, I don’t know what is.

Funfetti Layer CakeI mean, really. This has got to be the happiest cake on earth. Or at the very least, the happiest cake in Brooklyn 😍

Funfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeNow, you may be wondering what sets Funfetti Layer Cake apart from a plain white cake with some sprinkles. The answer is…well, not much. In fact the only differences between my regular white cake recipe and this cake are 1/4 teaspoon of imitation butter extract (for that box mix flavor without the box mix) and a veritable ton of rainbow sprinkles. There’s no big secret or anything–Funfetti is just white cake with pizzazz. Because sometimes you just need cake with pizzazz, am I right?!

Funfetti Layer CakeI frosted this cake with vanilla buttercream and coated the sides with as many nonpareils as the frosting would hold! This was done mostly because, as I have previously mentioned, the kitchen is the warmest room in my apartment right now–not ideal for beautiful frosting! This coating of sprinkles covers all manner of sad-looking frosting, and it’s super cute 💗

Funfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeLook how adorable that is! I love how the bright white cake really makes the sprinkles pop. I’m just crazy about all that color 💕💕💕And as if aesthetics alone aren’t a good enough reason to make Funfetti Layer Cake from scratch, know that my version beats the pants off anything you can find in a box. The cake is light and buttery, and the frosting is super fluffy and delicious, and…oh, who am I kidding? This one’s all about the sprinkles.Funfetti Layer Cake

Funfetti Layer Cake
makes 1 three-layer frosted cake

To Grease the Pans:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (not skim or fat-free)
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)*

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt 
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5-8 tablespoons heavy cream
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils), for decoration

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and flour. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer to the entire insides of three 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sift together four times. Do not skip this step. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, sour cream, and milk. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean, dry medium-large mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment on an electric mixer to beat egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Do not over mix. Set aside.

Fold dry ingredients into wet in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Carefully fold half the whipped egg whites into the batter, followed by the other half. Fold in sprinkles.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Lightly tap each pan on the counter a couple of times just to help any large air bubbles dissipate. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge of the pans and inverting the layers onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached. Frost and layer cooled cakes. Decorate with sprinkles immediately after frosting.

Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note:

For information on the difference between jimmies and nonpareils, click here.

Funfetti Layer Cake

Carrot Cake

Carrot CakeI feel a little silly posting two layer cakes this week, but I just couldn’t choose between them. Tuesday’s Easter Egg Hunt Cake is so much fun, as all things loaded with surprise candy ought to be 😊 And then there’s today’s Carrot Cake, the quintessential springtime dessert. I tried to decide which would have to wait for next year, but realizing that I’d never be satisfied with either decision, I reached out to my little sister and my best friend.

Carrot CakeThey couldn’t decide either. So, here I am with two layer cakes back to back. Anybody want to come over for cake? Because I have A LOT of it.

Carrot CakeI adore this cake and so do my friends. Carrot Cake is my second most-requested cake (beaten out only by my Vanilla Layer Cake). Every time I show up to an event with one of these in tow, I am positively baffled by the responses I receive. Even my little sister, who once very definitively told me that she did not care for carrot cake, likes this cake…and not just for the frosting. Although Cream Cheese Frosting is as good a reason as any, amiright?!

Carrot CakeSo, what makes this particular Carrot Cake so delicious? Well, for starters, It’s moist and nicely-spiced, full of raisins and nuts, and coated in my best-ever Cream Cheese Frosting. I could leave it at that, but after making this cake at least thirty times in the last four years, I’ve nailed down exactly why.

Carrot CakeRaisins. Yes, raisins are in lots of Carrot Cake recipes, but they are often too chewy and prone to clumping together in the batter. That doesn’t happen in this cake. Nope. Instead of pouring the raisins in straight from the package, I soak them in boiling water while I prepare the batter. This allows them to plump up a bit and mitigates any clumping once they are folded into the batter. The soaked raisins also help keep the cake nice and moist. That comes in handy when you have two layer cakes lying around!

Spices. Almost every Carrot Cake recipe contains cinnamon, but mine has ginger and nutmeg, too. Those two extra spices amplify the cinnamon and keep this cake from having a one-note flavor.Carrot CakeCarrot Cake

Dark Brown Sugar. Tons of it. Here, there’s three times as much dark brown sugar as there is granulated, and for good reason. For one, brown sugar is delicious–molasses flavor, y’all. It’s what makes chocolate chip cookies, blondies, and this Mango Upside-Down Cake so crazy good. Combined with the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, the brown sugar makes this cake out-of-this-world delicious. It keeps things moist too, helping this cake stay soft for days.

Eggs. There are four of them in this recipe and they are crucial to the success of this cake. Here, they provide a ton of structure. There are only two cups of flour in this recipe, which is much less than you’ll find in most of my layer cakes. With so little in the way of dry ingredients, the eggs are left to do the (literal) heavy lifting.Carrot CakeCarrot CakeCarrot Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned it twice already, but its tangy flavor really makes this cake sing. There is a thick layer on top each layer of cake–yum! The sides get a thin layer–just enough to hold up some chopped nuts. You could certainly skip the nuts and use more frosting on the sides, but I love the added crunch. I also dyed some of the frosting and piped little carrots on top of the cake. I’ve linked to a video tutorial in the recipe. It’s super easy.Carrot Cake

Enough bullet points! This cake, y’all. It’s really something special. Make it and enjoy it with your family and friends this weekend! Happy EasterCarrot Cake

Carrot Cake
makes one three layer 9-inch round cake

Cake:
1 cup water
3/4 cup raisins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3 cups coarsely grated carrots
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Decoration:
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup Cream Cheese Frosting (see above)
orange food coloring (or red and yellow)
green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Pour water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in raisins. Let sit while you prepare the cake batter.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar. It will be thick and sandy-looking. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients in two installments. Use a silicone spatula to fold in carrots.

Drain raisins. Fold them and the chopped nuts into the batter. Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake for 30-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans on racks for 15 minutes. Invert layers onto racks, remove parchment, and allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy.

Frost cakes as desired, reserving 1/2 cup of frosting if you want to pipe carrots.

Coat sides of the cake with chopped nuts. Pipe carrots (instructional video here), if desired. Slice and serve.

Cake will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Easter Egg Hunt Cake

Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster is coming up this weekend! I grew up celebrating in style–a week full of church, family brunch at The Fort Worth Club, and a HUGE egg hunt on a friend’s grandparents’ property. As far as I can tell after nearly ten years (!) in New York, Easter is not a big holiday here. I see a few families in their Easter best, but other than that, it’s just like any other Sunday. That said, just because I’m not planning to wear any pastels or attend any holiday brunches, there’s no reason I can’t celebrate with this adorable, surprise-candy-filled Easter Egg Hunt Cake!

Easter Egg Hunt CakeY’all. Y’ALL. This might be the most sickeningly cute thing I’ve ever made. I had the idea when I saw this Piñata Cake on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I’ve been hellbent on making this Easter Egg Hunt Cake ever since. From the outside it looks springlike and holiday appropriate (hey there, sweetened flaked coconut!), but then you slice in to find a veritable treasure trove of Easter egg-shaped candy! Seriously, y’all. How cute is this Easter candy avalanche?!

Easter Egg Hunt CakeNow, before you go clicking away, thinking that this cake is too much for you to handle, hear me out:

  1. If I can make this cake, anyone can. I can frost a cake, but my decorating skills leave something to be desired. If you can use an offset icing knife, you can decorate this cake!
  2. Hiding the candy in this cake is waaaaay easier than you’d imagine. 
  3. Easter Egg Hunt Cake is made with my tried-and-true Vanilla Layer Cake* recipe. That cake and its corresponding buttercream frosting are my two most-requested recipes, and for good reason. They’re simple to put together and sooo good.

*Please forgive those horrendous photos–I’ll be updating them soon.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeAre you still reading? I hope so.

Let’s talk cake construction. First and foremost, bake and cool four 9-inch round cake layers and whip together a double batch of (dyed-green) vanilla buttercream frosting. Yes, four layers (1.5 times my standard recipe) and a double the usual amount of frosting. This cake is huge–gotta have plenty of space for all that Easter candy!

First, place a layer of cake on a serving plate and frost the top of it, just like you would for any layer cake. Then (and this is where it gets weird), use a large round cutter to remove the centers of two of your layers. Save those centers for another task, like making a mini-layer cake or a trifle.

Place one of the cut-out layers on the frosted base layer. Top it with a layer of buttercream and the second cut-out layer. Frost that one too.Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeSee that hole? Fill it with any egg-shaped Easter candy you like! I used Reeses Pieces Eggs, but you could use chocolate eggs or even jelly beans. I also added some little bunny & carrot-shaped sprinkles, because sprinkles are my love language.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeAt this point, you should have one intact cake layer left. Use it to top the other layers, and then frost the tallest layer cake you’ve ever seen.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeTo decorate, press dyed-green flaked coconut into the frosting, and then arrange some Easter candy on top. I found this easiest to do by piping little blobs of frosting over the coconut and sticking the candies to them.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeAt this point, this cake will look like any old layer cake. Sure, it’s a huge one that’s clearly decorated for Easter, but nobody will suspect the surprise inside. And you, being cool as a freaking cucumber, will act like it’s any old vanilla cake.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeBut then, you’ll start to slice the thing…

Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeWhat’s that?! A layer cake full of candy Easter eggs?! How clever of you, you beautiful, talented, homebaking human, you.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeLooking for more Easter-appropriate desserts?
Check out these Carrot Cake Blondies, this Lemon Yogurt Cake, and my Coconut Cream Pie! Oh, and keep an eye out for another layer cake coming later this week 💕🐣🐰🍰🎂

Easter Egg Hunt Cake
inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes one four-layer 9-inch round cake

For greasing the pans:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)

Vanilla Cake:
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups buttermilk, room temperature

Vanilla Buttercream:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
15-20 drops liquid green food coloring
5-8 tablespoons heavy cream

For Decoration:
1 14-ounce bag sweetened flaked coconut
6-8 drops liquid green food coloring
egg-shaped Easter candies (I used Reeses Pieces Eggs)

For Assembly:
2-2 1/2 cups egg-shaped Easter candies (I used Reeses Pieces Eggs)
1/2 cup sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together greasing mixture ingredients. Use a pastry brush to paint mixture onto the entire insides of four 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Beat in buttermilk. Add dry ingredients in three installments, beating just until combined. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 23-27 minutes, rotating top to bottom and back to front at the halfway point. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for fifteen minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edges of the pans and invert the cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla and food coloring. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

Prepare the decoration. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to combine coconut and food coloring until desired color has been reached. Set aside.

Assemble the cake. Place one round on a serving plate and top with a layer of frosting. Set aside.

Use a 4-6 inch cutter (or a wide-mouthed cup or jar) to cut the centers out of two layers. Set centers aside for another use. Place one cut-out layer on the bottom layer and top with a layer of frosting. Place the other cut-out layer on top and frost. Fill the hole in the cake layers with candies and optional sprinkles. Top with the last (fully-intact) layer of cake. Frost cake as desired. Cover with dyed green coconut. Decorate with additional Easter candies as desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Candy Corn CupcakesCake week, y’all. It gets me every time. The last week of every month is full of cake orders, and between those and my day job, this blog always seems to get shoved to the side. Perhaps one day I’ll be more organized. Or be able to afford an assistant.

Fortunately, the cake madness is done just in time for me to post a Halloween treat! I am not actually a fan of Halloween, but I cannot get enough candy corn. I know half of you think the stuff is disgusting, and I totally get it–it’s too sweet, a bit chalky, and gets stuck in your teeth. But I love it. I have three huge bags of the stuff in my kitchen, so I’m set on candy corn for at least a month.

Candy Corn CupcakesSurely by now you’ve seen candy corn cupcakes on Pinterest and other social media. The gist is that vanilla cake batter is dyed orange and yellow, baked into cupcakes, and topped with white vanilla buttercream. Sure, the cupcakes are cute and festive, but for a candy corn aficionado like myself, they leave something to be desired. Namely, the very distinct flavor of candy corn.

What does candy corn taste like? Well, mostly it’s just sweet–so sweet, in fact, that it’s hard to detect any real flavor. Many brands of the stuff boast that they are made with “real honey” (as opposed to all that fake honey). Armed with this information, I figured a honey-vanilla cake batter was a good place to start. However, when I tasted the batter before baking, I found the flavor to be lacking a little. My vanilla cake batter is good, as is the addition of honey, but this batter tasted nothing like candy corn.

Candy Corn CupcakesEnter my secret ingredient: imitation butter extract. It sounds super gross, but it’s really not. It has this uncanny ability to give baked goods that sort of nostalgic quality that’s found in the boxed mixes of our youths. It makes sugar cookie dough with sprinkles taste like Funfetti cake mix, and here, it makes these honey-vanilla cupcakes taste a little more like candy corn. There’s only 1/4 teaspoon of the stuff in the entire recipe; just enough to make the final products taste a little like candy corn without making them taste completely artificial. If imitation butter extract is not for you, feel free to leave it out. Your honey-vanilla cupcakes will still be festive and delicious.

The frosting is just my vanilla buttercream doctored up with a little honey (and the extract). It’s luxuriously light and fluffy, and oh, how I wish my cake decorating skills could make it look as delicious as it is. You’ll just have to take my word for it (or better–make it!). Although it does look pretty good sort of drooping over the tops of these cupcakes.

Candy Corn CupcakesHappy Halloween, y’all! Let me know if you make these Candy Corn Cupcakes this weekend 😊

Candy Corn Cupcakes
makes 12-14 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
yellow food coloring
red food coloring

Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
candy corn, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar, followed by honey. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla, imitation butter extract, and buttermilk.

Divide batter into two bowls. Add yellow food coloring to both bowls and stir together until you are happy with the color. Add red food coloring one drop at a time to one of the bowls, until your desired orange color is achieved.

Add 2 tablespoons of yellow batter to each cupcake liner. Top each with 2 tablespoons of orange batter. Liners should be 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in honey, vanilla, and imitation butter extract. Mix in heavy cream until combined. Frost cupcakes as desired. Garnish with candy corn.

Cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.