Let me tell you a story. But be forewarned – if broken, smoking hand mixers and terrible frosting makes you cringe, this story may not be for you. (These are the things nightmares are made of, I know.)
Once upon a time (about two weeks ago), I decided to be nice and surprise my roommates with some Oreo cupcakes to celebrate Mardi Gras. I had my eyes on what I thought was the most perfect vanilla cupcake recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for at least a year and half now and was so excited to finally give the recipe a go. Why this recipe, you ask? Because this particular recipe involves folding whipped cream into the batter to both lighten and moisten the final baked cakes; needless to say, I was intrigued.
Unfortunately (especially for my hand mixer), trouble was in the soon-to-be smoke-filled air before I even got to the whipped cream part of the recipe. Full disclosure: it’s been a very long time (years) since I’ve made a recipe that requires the creaming of butter and sugar with a hand mixer; those are the recipes I always wait to try out at home with the assistance of the beloved family KitchenAid. So, there is a chance that I was impatient and couldn’t handle the flying bits of butter and sugar hitting my face and everything else in the kitchen and decided that those two crucial ingredients were creamed well enough when they may not actually have been…
Please, promise me right now that you will never make this mistake. I’m pretty sure that this is where all my cupcake-related troubles began; creaming butter and sugar in cake recipes is so important, it’s basically the foundation of the whole recipe. So, in hindsight, it’s no wonder this batter fought me every step of the way from that point on.
When I started adding the dry and wet ingredients, the batter was so thick and stiff and refused to lighten up with the addition of the milk and egg whites that I decided to try to full-blast it using the mixer’s highest speed (bad, bad idea everybody… also never do this….). It was only a matter of seconds before I started to smell something burning and then noticed the cloud of smoke surrounding my head. The mixer had HAD IT.
I somehow managed to finish the batter, which somehow baked up into some pretty decent cupcakes, but had to make quite a few changed to the recipe since the mixer was out of commission But if you think that sounds bad, you have yet to hear about the frosting. Oh, the frosting.
I soon realized I was completely out of powdered sugar and so settled on a cooked frosting – you know, the type of frosting where you make a “pudding” using milk and flour and beat it into sugar and butter until it’s all nice and fluffy? I’ve been wanting to try this type of frosting for some time and thought this was the perfect time to give it a test run.
By this point, I had borrowed a friend’s hand mixer to finish these cupcakes and the frosting was actually looking pretty good – really good, actually. Light and fluffy perfection full of Oreo bits, that’s what I thought I had.
But then my roommates and I took a bite of the frosted cupcakes. These cupcakes did not taste like they were frosted in a delicious buttercream. No, they instead tasted like they were frosted with massive swirls of whipped butter. And as much as we love butter in this house, let me tell you whipped butter has its place (many places, actually) in the kitchen, but sitting atop of cupcakes and posing as frosting is NOT one of those places.
Fresh out of Oreos and my pride a bit damaged, I knew sweet Oreo cupcake redemption would soon come. And it did. This past weekend, to be exact, when I was back at home and could team up with my trusty ol’ stand mixer for a much-needed cupcake re-do.
These cupcakes are soft, tender, and bake up beautifully. They’re full of Oreos – each one is nestled proudly atop a whole cookie (such a fun surprise!) with plenty chopped up and mixed into the batter. The frosting I settled on is a cream cheese buttercream frosting, whipped to light and airy perfection using the whisk attachment, which got a serious workout to get the texture just right.
I definitely had to work for these cupcakes, but I’d say they’re worth it 😉 And because I went through a seemingly endless series of kitchen mishaps, now you don’t have to – WOOHOO! Follow the recipe below and learn from my mistakes and you’ll be snacking on some tasty cookies n’ cream cupcakes before you know it.
Cookies n’ Cream Cupcakes
Makes: 18 standard sized cupcakes (generously frosted)
For the cupcakes:
18 whole Oreo cookies
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
2 egg whites
10 Oreo cookies, chopped
For the frosting:
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
3 – 4 Tablespoons half-and-half or heavy cream
4 Oreo cookies, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350º and line muffin tins with cupcake liners. Place a whole Oreo in the bottom of each of the 18 cavities; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the the sides and bottom of the bowl, then beat in the vanilla until very well combined, about another minute.
Whisk together the whole egg, milk and sour cream until combined; set aside.
Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the mixer bowl, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (3 additions of the dry ingredients, 2 of the wet ingredients). After each addition, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the beater. Once all of the ingredients have been added, beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks; gently fold into the batter just until no traces of the whites remain (be careful not to over-mix!).
Evenly spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each cavity about 3/4 the way full. Bake for about 18 minutes (rotate pans around halfway through if your oven does not heat up evenly), or until a toothpick inserted emerges clean.
Allow the baked cupcakes to sit in the muffin tins for a couple of minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment for 7 minutes. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. After the addition of each cup of the powdered sugar, add 1 Tablespoon of the cream (adding only as much as you need to reach the desired consistency). Use to frost the cupcakes once cooled.