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Candy Corn Cupcakes

Updated 10/27/2020 to add better photos and slightly alter the amount of frosting.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.Candy Corn CupcakesWhat 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.

Enter 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.Candy Corn CupcakesThe 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.

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

Candy Corn Cupcakes
makes 12-14 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
orange or red food coloring

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 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)
3 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, about 1 1/2 cups each. Add yellow food coloring to one bowl, stirring as you go, until the desired color is reached (I used 3 drops yellow gel food coloring). Add orange food coloring to the other bowl, and stir until evenly distributed (I used 3 drops orange gel food coloring). If you don’t have orange food coloring, add yellow to the second bowl, then add red a drop at a time until the color is reached.

Add 2 tablespoons of yellow batter to each cupcake liner. Top each with 2 tablespoons of orange batter. Liners should be 1/2-2/3 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 16-18 minutes, or 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 optional 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.Candy Corn CupcakesCandy Corn CupcakesCandy Corn Cupcakes