On Cupcake Day, foodies and chefs share their frosted faves

Cupcake Project / Today
By Vidya Rao
The chocolate cream cupcakes, reminiscent of Hostess cakes, are one of Chris Kimball's favorites.America's Test Kitchen / Today

Some predicted that the reign of the cupcake was over, but we know they were sorely mistaken. On Dec. 15, we celebrate National Cupcake Day by asking some of our favorite chefs and cupcake enthusiasts to share their best creations and their recipes for you to make at home. Tell us in the comments below: What's your most beloved cupcake?

America’s Test Kitchen’s Chocolate cream cupcakes

Chosen by: Chris Kimball, chef and host of “America’s Test Kitchen”

What’s so great about this cupcake?

“Childhood memories are, unfortunately, for children and not adults since the reality of childhood treats often disappoint. But, let's be honest — a chocolate cupcake filled with sugary cream and topped with a fudge chocolate glaze with a bright white squiggle is undeniable even for the most committed epicure. By coming up with our own test kitchen recipe, we added back rich chocolate flavor (sadly missing from the supermarket version) and upped the hedonistic pleasure of the creamy filling. We even included the squiggle as if we were signing each cupcake like a work of art. Bravo!”

Get the recipe

Food & Wine/Kana Okada / Today

Chocolate-Frosted Golden Cupcakes with Coconut

Chosen by: Gail Simmons, Food & Wine director of special projects and “Top Chef: Texas Judge”

What’s so great about this cupcake?

“I am a cupcake purist. I love nothing more than a classic vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting, so simple and always satisfying. For a little twist I like adding something fun to the topping, such as coconut, since chocolate and coconut is one of my favorite dessert flavor combinations.”

Get the recipe

Cupcake Project / Today

Honey-baked ham cupcakes

Chosen by: Stefani Pollack, blogger behind Cupcake Project and contributor to Paula Deen

What’s so great about this cupcake?

“Honey baked ham cupcakes are classic honey cakes baked inside of thinly sliced ham (molded into cups), topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and candied pineapple rings. While ham at dessert might be initially off-putting, the ham flavor in these cupcakes ends up being surprisingly mild, noticed mostly as a salty aftertaste that complements the sweet cake and toppings. The cupcakes make for a fun end to Christmas dinner or a novel use of leftover ham.”

Get the recipe

GiadaDeLaurentiis.com / Today

Mascarpone mini-cupcakes with strawberry glaze

Chosen by:Giada De Laurentiis, host of “Giada at Home” and “Everyday Italian” and regular TODAY contributor

What’s so great about this cupcake?

"These cupcakes are [my daughter] Jade's fave - we made them for her birthday! They're colorful and bite-sized."

Get the recipe

Flickr / Today

Vosges caramel toffee chocolate chunk cupcake

Chosen by: Stacie Joy, who co-edits the popular blog Cupcakes Take The Cake

What's so great about this cupcake?

"Not the easiest in the world, but so mouth-wateringly delicious. The mix is to make brownies but we are all cupcake gals here, so I decided to bake them as cupcakes. And they were stellar!"

Get the recipe

The Cupcake Diaries / Today

Gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Chosen by: Katherine and Sophie Kallinis, the bakers of Georgetown Cupcakes, stars of TLC’s “DC Cupcakes” and authors of “The Cupcake Diaries”

What’s so great about this cupcake?

"The smell of our gingerbread cupcake recipe reminds us of the holidays and baking with our grandmother when we were kids - our favorite memory."

Make your own with the recipe below:

Makes 12 cupcakes

For cupcakes:

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups molasses
  • 1 cup hot water

For frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard cupcake pan with twelve paper baking cups, or grease the pan with butter if not using baking cups.

Sift together the dry ingredients, except for the brown sugar, and set aside. (We like to sift on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper so we can easily pick it up and pour it into our mixer, little by little.)

Cream together butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer on high speed, 3 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.Add the eggs one at a time, beating slowly after each addition. Add the molasses, mixing until well incorporated.

Add one third of the dry ingredients and one third of the water and mix thoroughly. Repeat. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the last third of the dry ingredients and one third of the water, and mix thoroughly.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake pan using a standard-size ice-cream scoop.

Bake at 350ºF for 16 to 18 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:

Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until well combined. Frost cupcakes using Georgetown Cupcake’s signature swirl (see page 23). We decorate our Gingerbread cupcakes with fondant gingerbread men with red candy buttons. You can use a mini gingerbread man cookie cutter and cut out fondant gingerbread men to place on top of your cupcakes to give them an extra special festive touch!

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