Color Swirl Cupcakes

swirled cupcakeExperienced bakers like to challenge themselves…and these color swirl cupcakes were certainly a challenge! These cupcakes are destined for an 8-year-old girl’s rock star-themed birthday party, and I certainly hope they’re a hit.

I originally planned to use three separate piping bags set into one large bag for the color swirl look, but the other day at the craft store I saw the Wilton Color Swirl decorating kit and I thought…why not? Next time, I’ll probably go with the bags-in-bag technique, because the kit was a bit difficult to use, especially for a first-time color-swirler like me. If you’re trying this technique, bear in mind that you’ll need to apply steady, even pressure to three separate bags of frosting all at once, which can make piping a swirl a challenge. In the photo below, you can see that I piped both swirls and blobs of frosting, and the blobs were infinitely easier (and just as cute, in my opinion).


White Almond Cupcakes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk our sour milk*

*To make sour milk, place 1 1/3 tablespoons vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 1/3 total cups. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Color Swirl Buttercream

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • Magenta gel food coloring
  • Teal gel food coloring
  • Lemon yellow gel food coloring


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; this recipe makes about 32 cupcakes, so if you only have two tins like me, you’ll need to let one cool and re-line it for your last batch.

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

In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar together until creamy. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture and sour milk alternatively, starting and ending with the flour, beating until just combined after each addition.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop batter into prepared tins, filling no more than half-full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until tops are light golden and a cake tester inserted in the middle of a few cupcakes comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack before frosting.

For the frosting: in a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 1 minute, then add salt and beat another minute.

Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter; this will take a few minutes. I cover my mixer with a kitchen towel during this process to avoid a powdered sugar mess on my counter.

Add vanilla extract and almond extract, beating well to combine for about 2 minutes. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until frosting reaches a fluffy consistency.

If using the Wilton kit described above, put the kit together and fill each bag with a different color, securing the end of each bag with a twist tie. Using steady, even pressure, pipe blobs or swirls of frosting onto each cupcake.

If using the bags-in-bag technique, fill 12-inch piping bags with a different color, securing the end of each bag with a twist tie. Fit an 18-inch piping bag with your desired tip and place the three bags inside. Using steady, even pressure, pipe blobs or swirls of frosting onto each cupcake.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

swirled cupcakes dozenHere’s a dozen color swirl cupcakes! Check out the different piping techniques; the blobs, shown in the first and third columns, were much easier than the swirls, shown in the second and fourth columns.