Birthday Cupcakes are buttery soft, fluffy yellow cupcakes topped with an ultra creamy Malted Chocolate Frosting. The malt powder adds a nostalgic flavor burst and takes the frosting to the next level! Add colorful sprinkles and watch these disappear off the plate at any party.
This post was originally published in May of 2022, but I just updated it with new photos and more tips & tricks in the blog post. The recipe is unchanged.
Why you’ll love this Birthday Cupcake recipe:
- Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes – These ultra fluffy yellow cupcakes are moist and flavorful. They are the best birthday cupcakes!
- Malted Chocolate Frosting – Adding malt powder to the frosting makes it taste like a chocolate malt and takes this frosting to a whole new level.
- Easy to Make – These cupcakes are easy to make and use fairly simple ingredients!
- Cake Flour – Cake flour produces a lighter crumb, and is ideal for most cake and cupcake recipes. When I call for cake flour, I recommend using that and not directly subbing for all-purpose flour, although you can make your own with all-purpose flour and cornstarch (see subs below).
- Eggs – Use large eggs, at room temperature.
- Sour Cream – Use full fat sour cream, at room temperature.
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, but feel free to use unsalted if you prefer. Make sure it’s at room temperature.
- Vegetable Oil – This adds extra moisture and tenderness to the crumb of these cupcakes.
- Cake Flour – To make your own, sift together 14 tbsp of all-purpose flour with 2 tbsp of cornstarch, twice. Spoon & level one cup of flour from this mixture – you just made one cup of cake flour! Make additional cake flour in whatever quantity your recipe calls for as needed.
- Sour Cream – You can use full fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Dairy-free – Use your favorite dairy-free butter items to make this recipe dairy-free.
How to Make these Yellow Birthday Cupcakes Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Make the Cupcake Batter. Cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Next, add in the eggs and vanilla. Be sure to add the eggs in as directed in the recipe, as adding them all at once can affect the texture of the finished cake.
Next, add your dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Finally, add the sour cream and vegetable oil. The batter will be smooth and slightly thick.
Step 2: Bake the Cupcakes. Place cupcake liners in your pan and fill each just about 2/3 full. Don’t overfill them! Bake the cupcakes just as directed in the recipe card below to avoid over baking.
Step 3: Make the Frosting & Frost the Cupcakes. Cream together butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar in a few batches, mixing until combined. Add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt last. You’ll have the creamiest frosting!
To get the look of my cupcakes, pipe a two tier swirl onto each cooled cupcake, then use the tip of an offset spatula (all tools linked below) to make a swoop in the top. Top with rainbow sprinkles – it’s not a party without a sweet treat topped with sprinkles!
These are the best cupcakes for a birthday treat! Everyone who tastes them will immediately fall head over heels. They’re not just for birthday parties though – these will be a hit at any celebration, special occasions, potlucks, or as a weekend treat.
Expert Success Tips:
- Filling Cupcake Liners – The trick to getting nice cupcakes with rounded tops is to not overfill your cupcake tins. Aim for 2/3 full.
- Testing Cupcake Doneness – A toothpick inserted into the center will pull out moist crumbs, not wet batter. The toothpick will often not come out clean. You can also lightly tap the tops of the cupcakes with your finger – if they spring back, that’s another indication that they’re done.
- Avoid Runny Frosting – Sugar is hydroscopic, meaning it attracts water, so dissolving it (mixing it well) into the butter first helps prevent it from drawing moisture out of the cream cheese (it has a moisture content of 55%!), which makes it weepy.
- Oven Thermometer – An oven thermometer will tell you if your oven is actually running at the temperature you set it to. Accurate temperature is crucial for most bakes, so I leave an oven thermometer in at all times to keep an eye on the calibration.
- Kitchen Scale – A food scale is the best way to make sure your flour is at the proper weight, since amounts will vary SO widely based on how you measure it, as well as the measuring cup you use, as they are not standardized.
Yes! I recommend making the cupcakes no more than 24 hours ahead. You can make & cool the cupcakes, storing them in tupperware, and frost them the next day. Or, you can bake, cool, and frost the cupcakes and store them in an airtight container in the fridge until the next day. Pull them out 30 minutes or so before serving to allow them to come back to room temperature.
Yes, that should work fine.
I always add a bit of cream cheese – it keeps it from being tooth-achingly sweet, like many buttercream frostings can be, and it adds an incredible creaminess. This is not a traditional chocolate buttercream frosting, but it is so much better!
- Vanilla Cupcakes – Use my white cake recipe, cut in half, and top it with half a batch of the vanilla frosting from the same recipe, or with the chocolate one from this recipe if you want more of a vanilla cake, not a yellow cake.
- Sprinkle Center – If desired, core out the center of the cupcake with a teaspoon and fill with any kind of sprinkles for a fun surprise.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Store baked, cooled, unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container on the counter (at room temp) for a day before decorating, or store frosted cupcakes in the same in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Piping Tip – I used an Ateco 1A piping tip for these cupcakes.
- Piping Bag – I like to use a reusable piping bag like this one, as it creates less waste than disposable piping bags.
- Offset Spatula – Offset spatulas make decorating cupcakes a breeze! They can also be used for spreading cake and brownie batters evenly.
More Cupcake Recipes to Love:
- Raspberry Cupcakes
- Peach Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
- Maple Bacon Cupcakes
- Samoa Cupcakes
- Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
- Best Ever Funfetti Cupcakes
- Nutella Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
Yellow Cupcakes with Malted Chocolate Frosting (Birthday Cupcakes!)
For the Yellow Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened at room temp (8 tbsp, 1 stick, or 113 grams)
- 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 and 1/2 large eggs See note
- 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups cake flour, spooned & leveled 173 grams
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup full fat sour cream, at room temp See note
For the Malted Chocolate Frosting:
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp salted butter, softened at room temp (18 tbsp, or 254 grams)
- 5 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temp
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1-2 tbsp heavy cream or milk
- 2 tbsp malted milk powder
- 1 box whoppers, crushed optional, for decorating
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside. Make sure your butter, eggs, milk, and sour cream have come to room temp – this is crucial for the batter to come out correctly.
- Make the Cupcake Batter: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter well with electric mixer on high speed. Add the sugar and cream together with the butter for 2 minutes on high speed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed, just until each egg disappears into the batter. Add the vanilla with the last egg. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix on low speed until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl to get everything incorporated. Add the oil and sour cream and mix on low speed just until they disappear into the batter.
- Bake the Cupcakes: Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the centers should pull out moist crumbs, not wet batter. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Make the Frosting & Frost the Cupcakes: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter on high speed for 30 seconds. Add the powdered sugar in a few batches, mixing until well incorporated each time. Add a splash of milk to help it come together. Add the cocoa powder and mix until combined. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, pinch of salt, and malt powder. Mix until well combined and creamy. Mix in the cream cheese last. Pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes using a piping tip (I used an Ateco #849) and piping bag, or dollop it on with an ice cream scoop and smooth with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with crushed whoppers, if desired.
- Serve + Store: Serve immediately once frosted! Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Let come to room temp for a bit before serving as the frosting will become fairly solid in the fridge.