Party people! Are we ready to say hello to a new year? Let’s do it with cupcakes that literally burst with confetti.
I’ve gotten a few email requests for a cupcake recipe like this over the past year. Piñata cake in cupcake form. Usually it’s for gender reveal showers and parties– wouldn’t these be so fun for that with pink or blue sprinkles!!!– but, for my blog, I wanted to share a version that could be used for virtually any holiday or event. And I saved the recipe idea to share before New Years Eve because… rainbow sprinkles. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
When you bite into one and discover the surprise sprinkles/candies inside, you can’t help but smile. And while these piñata cupcakes may look tricky and complicated, trust me when I say they don’t require any special talents. If you know how to carve a hole in a cupcake and pour sprinkles inside, you can make party piñata cupcakes.
We’re going to start the recipe with a basic vanilla cupcake. My recent favorite, simply perfect vanilla cupcakes, have secured their spot as my go-to vanilla cupcake. They’re fluffy and soft, sweet and light, moist and buttery all in one. We owe all of this magic to 4 power ingredients:
And honestly, every time I make them I can’t get over how fluffy they are. These homemade vanilla cupcakes are as fluffy and moist as box mix cupcakes, but are packed with the freshness and quality of homemade. That’s hard to come by with a from-scratch cupcake.
The only difference today is that I left out the vanilla bean. I ran out! But the extra vanilla flavor wasn’t missed because of all the sweet sprinkles packed inside.
One thing to remember: fill your cupcake liners only 2/3 full. Less is more. 2/3 full isn’t a lot. In fact, you might even question yourself and be tempted to add more. Don’t succumb to the pressure! Don’t overfill those liners! You’ll end up with mushroom looking oddballs, complete with flat tops and crisp edges. Quite the opposite of the soft and fluffy cupcake goal.
Once the vanilla cupcakes are baked and cooled, we’ll carve a hole into the centers, fill with sprinkles, and place the carved section back on top. Some detail:
These cupcakes are about 1.5 inches tall. You’ll want to carve a 1 inch deep section of cupcake out. This can be roughly 1 inch, a little less is perfectly fine. The section of cupcake you remove will be the shape of a cone (see above). I slice off a little of the narrow end of the cone because it won’t fit back on top with all the sprinkles inside. Does this make sense?
When you frost the piñata cupcakes, you won’t be able to tell that there’s anything inside. You can use any frosting– vanilla frosting, chocolate frosting, strawberry frosting, you name it. For these, I used my basic vanilla frosting. If you’re interested, the piping tip I used on the pictured cupcakes is the big Ateco #849 closed star tip. Working with this particular piping tip is very easy. All I do is start in the center of the cupcake, apply pressure to squeeze the frosting out, and slowly lift straight up. No swirling around the cupcake; just start on the center and lift straight up.
And for the surprise piñata filling?! I used Sweetapolita “Luxury Sweet Twinkle Sprinkle Medley” sprinkles. You can use any sprinkles or even fill with a mix of mini M&Ms, mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, other tiny candies, etc. Those larger sprinkles are like Nerd candies and the silver balls are chocolate!!
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Party piñata cupcakes filled with sprinkles are easy to make and ready for any celebration!
- 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) cake flour* (spoon & leveled)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream at room temperature*
- 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk at room temperature*
- 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles, for filling*
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 – 5 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream or whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners – this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
- Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners – fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely.
- Fill the cupcakes: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cupcake to create a little pocket about 1 inch deep. This piece you removed will be the shape of a cone. Set it aside. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of sprinkles inside the cupcake. Slice off the pointy end of the “cone” piece of cupcake you removed so that it can fit on top of the sprinkle filling. See photos above for visual. Repeat with all cupcakes.
- Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. I used the Ateco #849 closed star tip.
- Make Ahead Instructions: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Cupcakes, without filling, can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 5.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt Head Glass Measuring Bowl | Rainbow Whisk | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Cupcake Pan | Cupcake Liners | Pink Polka Dot Knife | Icing Bag | Icing Tip | Colorful Mini Bowls
- Cake Flour: If you can’t get your hands on cake flour, make this homemade cake flour substitute. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups of cake flour in this recipe.
- Whole milk and full fat sour cream are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full fat plain yogurt would work instead, though the cupcakes may not be as light. Same goes with a lower fat milk.
- Instead of sprinkles inside, try mini M&Ms, crushed nuts, mini chocolate chips, and/or other small candies.
Keywords: piñata cupcakes, sprinkle cupcakes