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Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Have cupcakes had their "moment"? It seems like only yesterday that new cupcake shops, blogs and even televised competitions were popping up everywhere.

And then — like most trends — the cupcake seemed to just disappear, replaced by doughnuts, mug cakes and waffled-everything.

Which is a shame. Personally, I love a good cupcake. From its cute size to the endless ways it can be tweaked — and let's not forget the frosting — the cupcake is my desert equivalent to the little black dress. Classic. Versatile. Simple, yet sophisticated.

And this little number is a perfect example.

Cookies and cream is a classic flavor that never goes out of style, and is the perfect complement to your basic cupcake batter.

I've stepped up the "cookies and cream" part by incorporating it from top to bottom, starting with a cookie base, filling the batter with more chopped cookies and folding even more into the buttercream frosting (and check out that garnish!).

I love the black and white palette here, and love even more that its elegant looks belie its super-easy execution.

Boxed cake mix gets an upgrade with the addition of an extra egg, and buttermilk in place of the water called for in the recipe. You won't believe the difference this makes (and your guests won't believe that they're eating a boxed mix).

The buttercream frosting is one I've been making for years, and have found nothing better. Just a few simple ingredients and you've got a delicious frosting that holds up and pipes out beautifully.

I think I feel a comeback.

Recipe: Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Yields: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 vegetable oil
  • 24 sandwich crème cookies

Frosting and garnish:

  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 18 sandwich crème cookies, divided

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350; line cupcake tins with 24 liners.
  2. Twist open the cookies so that you have 24 plain sides and 24 topped with crème. Coarsely chop the plain cookies and set aside and place the remaining cookies — crème side up — into your lined cupcake tins.
  3. Beat the cake mix, eggs, buttermilk and oil on low speed for one minute. Raise speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides, add the chopped cookies and beat for 30 seconds more to incorporate.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into your cupcake tins and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean. Remove cupcakes from the tins and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting and garnish:

  1. Chop 6 of the cookies in a food processor until very fine. Cut the remaining 12 cookies in half (the easiest way to do this is with a serrated knife, using a gentle sawing motion).
  2. Beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the milk, a little at a time, until a smooth and fluffy consistency is reached.
  3. Add about half the cookie crumbs and beat for 30 seconds more to incorporate.
  4. Transfer the buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a plain or fluted tip. Pipe the frosting atop the cooled cupcakes. Place a cookie half in each and sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Chill until ready to serve.

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