Brown Sugar Cupcakes

brown sugar cupcakesMy cousin Barb brought her girls Maureen (my goddaughter, age 5) and Margo (age 21 months) up from Maryland for a visit to Pittsburgh this week. Although I whipped up these brown sugar cupcakes without the assistance of my two favorite little bakers, they helped with the buttercream and did a very good job.

Depending on how old they are, little bakers can help with many things. Measuring and pouring can be easy, helpful tasks, as can (careful) mixing. To make our buttercream, Maureen and Margo helped me measure out the powdered sugar into a large bowl, then add it one cup at a time into the mixing bowl. Mo also poured in the vanilla extract and heavy cream and learned the basics of bowl-scraping before helping me pipe the buttercream onto our cupcakes. Even Margo helped squeeze the piping bag for our last cupcake, which she then ate.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes


  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with paper liners; this recipe made 23 cupcakes for me.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and melted butter, whisking until no lumps remain. Whisk in egg, sour cream, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly whisk in flour mixture until batter is completely smooth; it will be fairly thick.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into prepared cupcake pans, filling about half-full.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and remove from pans immediately; cool completely before frosting.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting


  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Purple food coloring, if desired


In a mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar all at once, then beat on low speed until all of the sugar is incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes. Scraped down the bowl, then beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.

Add vanilla and heavy cream, then beat for another 1-2 minutes.

Add food coloring and beat for 1-2 minutes; scrape the bowl well to make sure you get all of the food coloring incorporated into the frosting.

Fit a 14-inch piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe blobs of frosting onto each cupcake (it’s easier with little helping hands to pipe blobs than swirls, but you can also try swirls – Mo did a pretty good job at the swirls). Store in airtight containers at room temperature.

Below, Maureen, Margo, and I whip up some tasty frosting…and then the girls demolish some cupcakes.

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