Sparkling White Cupcakes

By Chef Megan Joy / December 30, 2012

I hope all of you had a joyous and happy holiday this past week. I was fortunate enough this year to make it home to Indiana to celebrate with my family. It had been three years since I’d been able to do that due to my previous jobs out here. When you work in a resort town, getting time off for the holidays is unheard of.

My boyfriend came along for the trip and we had a great time catching up with everyone and relaxing. Lots of time was spent in the kitchen helping my mom cook and bake. My dad bought my mom a Nespresso machine for Christmas so we also had a million cappuccinos.

Anyone receive a spectacular gift this year? I must have been good. One of my favorites was this Mauviel jam-making copper pot. I am launching a wedding cake business early next year and I plan to make many of my own fruit fillings in this pot. Not to mention that it is gorgeous!


Now that I’ve returned to Vail, I jumped back into the kitchen today. I don’t make cupcakes very often, but today I was inspired for a few reasons. Recently, a blog reader mentioned her frustrations with cupcakes at altitude. She had tried making cupcakes from my Homemade “Funfetti” Cake recipe. Sometimes cupcakes and cake recipes can be used interchangeably. Other times, they don’t work so well. The “Funfetti” white cake recipe bakes up in very flat, even layers- perfect for cakes because little needs to be trimmed or leveled. For cupcakes, this recipe may not work so well, especially at high altitude, as she found out firsthand.

And besides, aren’t we all in search of a cupcake recipe that has that desirable “dome”? So I figured I would play around with some recipes and get one I could publish on here. The quintessential cupcake. Easy to personalize and make it yours.


A white cupcake is also the perfect addition to your NYE celebration. Excellent with champagne, a classic simple flavor after all of the heavy holiday eating, and pristine white to symbolize a clean slate for the new year. Just saying.

Make them in the standard size or as minis and top with white, gold, or silver sprinkles.

You could also take these a step further and add champagne or sparkling wine to the recipe to make them truly “sparkling”. Use 1/2 cup bubbly with 1/2 cup of whole milk, instead of the full 1 cup of milk originally called for. In the frosting, switch out champagne/sparkling wine in place of the milk.




Happy New Year!

How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:

Sparkling White Cupcakes
adapted from Sweetapolita

Sparkling White Cupcakes
Recipe type: High Altitude Baking
To make truly "sparkling" cupcakes, use ½ cup champagne or sparkling wine and ½ cup whole milk in place of the 1 cup whole milk. Substitute the champagne or sparkling wine for the 2 tablespoons of milk in the frosting.
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 6 oz (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • ½ tablespoon + ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • For the frosting:
  • 6 oz (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and vanilla.
  4. Beat in the egg whites one at a time, blending each into the batter before adding the next.
  5. Combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and baking powder in a bowl.
  6. Alternately add the flour mixture with the whole milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
  7. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat on high speed for 10 seconds.
  8. Portion the batter into greased or lined muffin cups. Fill them about ⅔ full.
  9. Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes (standard size- less time for mini cupcakes), or until the centers spring back when lightly touched and the edges are a light golden brown. Cool completely before frosting.
  10. To make the frosting, beat the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in the 3 cups of powdered sugar.
  11. Add the salt, whole milk, and vanilla and whip on high speed for 1-2 minutes until very fluffy.
  12. Makes about 2 dozen standard size cupcakes.
Note: This recipe was adjusted for high altitude baking. To make at sea level, omit the all-purpose flour and use 3 cups of cake flour. Increase the sugar to 1 3/4 cups. Increase the baking powder to 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon.

About the author

Chef Megan Joy

Gee - January 1, 2013

Happy New Year Meg,

I made these cupcakes last night, and while the icing was delicious, the cupcakes themselves tasted more like a bread. We are about 6500 feet. I did not use champagne in the cupcakes, but did have to use skim milk instead of whole. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. They rose very nicely and retained their shape, but the flavor was off. Any idea what went wrong? Thanks.

    Chef Megan Joy - January 2, 2013

    Hi Gee, I’m sorry these tasted like bread to you. Did you add vanilla extract and salt? Cake flour also has a very distinct taste (it tastes like it smells) and that may be what you’re experiencing.

MeganZ - April 21, 2013

Yum!! Success! They turned out great and will be super for the birthday party (I added funfetti for fun). Only 2 things- the bottom batch turned out a little dark on the bottom, so I guess I should switch the cupcake tins half-way through. Also, they took like 24 min.- I don’t even know how long because I lost track, I kept having to add 2 min. on. Not sure why that would be, my oven thermometer said 350. Anyway, thanks!

MeganZ - May 18, 2013

I’ve gotta make a lot of these cupcakes and I’m running out of freezer space. Do you know how long these cupcakes would be good at room temperature? Or refrigerated? The party is 6 days away. Thanks!

    Chef Megan Joy - May 19, 2013

    They’ll taste fresher if you refrigerate in them in an airtight container to ensure they don’t dry out or absorb other odors in the refrigerator. I wouldn’t recommend any longer than 2-3 days or they’ll start tasting dry.

      MeganZ - May 22, 2013

      Okay, I will try to do the last batches as close to Saturday as possible. Thanks for all your help!

Renee - May 4, 2014

I am making 200 cupcakes for a friend’s wedding, and wondered if it would be possible to use the whole egg and have a “yellow” cupcake rather than the egg whites…I don’t know what I would do with 4 dozen egg yolks…
also hoping to have them “keep” overnight at room temperature…unfrosted. Do you think it is possible? They want a nice, moist cupcake.

    Chef Megan Joy - May 9, 2014

    Hi Renee, yellow cupcake recipes typically have butter, milk, and whole eggs, so technically you could certainly try adapting this recipe. I would try substituting 3 whole eggs for the 5 egg whites. As for keeping them overnight, store them in plastic containers with tight fitting lids. The most important thing is for them not to dry out, which can happen so easily in our high altitude climate! Happy baking!

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