These confetti cupcakes with French buttercream are an upgraded version of Funfetti cupcakes and more involved than a simple box mix but justifiably so. The reverse creaming method makes a tender cake filled with whipped cream and topped with a swirl of birthday cake batter French buttercream. It very well may be the best cupcake you’ve ever eaten.
Ingredients for Confetti Cupcakes with French Buttercream
These confetti cupcakes don’t require any specialty ingredients. You can find all of the ingredients to make these cupcakes and the French buttercream at your local grocery store. The hardest thing to find may be sprinkles that have all the colors you love in them!
Here are all the ingredients you’ll need to make these birthday cupcakes at home:
- Salted butter
- All purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
- Heavy cream, and
- Lots of sprinkles!
Quick Tips for Prepping Confetti Cupcakes Cake Batter
This recipe makes 12 large cupcakes or 18 regular-sized cupcakes. If you’d like large cupcakes, I highly recommend these large cupcake liners from Paper Chef. I used regular-sized liners for this food shoot only because I was out of my Paper Chef ones.
To ensure a flat top, I recommend using a cupcake pan that conducts heat evenly. I have four of these cupcake pans from Nordic Ware and love them!
This cake batter is made via the reverse creaming method, which results in a tender cake with a moist crumb and a flat top. Many cupcake bakers prefer cupcakes with a flat top, as they’re typically easier to decorate than their domed counterparts.
What Is the Reverse Creaming Method?
The reverse creaming method is the easiest way to get the moist and tender consistency of boxed cake mix at home. And because you make it at home with simple and fresh ingredients, the cake also tastes better than boxed cake mixes!
Boxed cake mixes coat each flour particle with a microscopic amount of fat, which inhibits much of the gluten development.
Gluten develops when flour is hydrated with water (or milk or eggs—any water-based liquid). The more the flour and water are mixed together, the more gluten is formed.
Gluten development is great for breads (it’s what makes bread chewy and delicious!) but it’s not so great for cakes. The best cakes (like this confetti cupcake recipe) have very little gluten development.
Reverse creaming combines all the dry ingredients in the cake with the fat before adding in any liquid. This coats the flour in fat, which is unable to properly hydrate. The flour can’t create nearly as much gluten, so instead of a tough and chewy crumb, you end up with a moist, tender crumb that melts in your mouth.
The first step of the reverse creaming method is to combine your dry ingredients with fat. That results in a texture that looks a lot like breadcrumbs before you add in your liquid. The final batter should be light and fluffy!
Quick Tips for Prepping the Birthday Cake Batter French Buttercream
French buttercream takes a little more effort to make than American buttercream, but it is worth the extra effort. The first time you make it, you may be a bit nervous pouring a hot sugar syrup into egg yolks—I was, too! But this recipe is hard to mess up and is incredibly rewarding.
I doctored the original French buttercream to create a buttercream that tastes exactly like cake batter, just by using salted butter instead of unsalted butter and adding heavy cream and powdered sugar.
This is a perfect buttercream made with salted butter. If you only have salted butter on hand, this buttercream recipe is for you!
What Is French Buttercream?
French buttercream is a deliciously custardy and silky smooth buttercream that is unlike any other. It’s rich but not too heavy and sweet but not overpoweringly so.
French buttercream is made from a hot sugar syrup, egg yolks, and butter. Because of the egg yolks, the frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated for long-term storage.
How to Make French Buttercream
To make a French buttercream, you whisk together a hot sugar syrup and egg yolks. The sugar syrup cooks the egg yolks, and steady whisking results in a fluffy, custardy egg yolk mixture that you then beat butter into.
Try your best to pour the sugar syrup onto the side of the stand mixer bowl so that it runs down into the egg yolks. If you pour the syrup onto the whisk, the sugar splatters and cools down before it gets to the yolks, which can result in a grainy buttercream.
French buttercream is particular (much like its French macaron counterpart). The buttercream may begin to look like it’s curdling when you add in the butter piece by piece. If the buttercream starts to curdle before you’ve added all your butter, switch the attachment head from a whisk to a beater and beat it until it no longer looks curdled. Then finish adding in your butter.
While creating this recipe, I accidentally used salted butter instead of unsalted. I tried to offset the saltiness with heavy cream and powdered sugar (two ingredients that aren’t typically in French buttercream). The result was a custardy buttercream that tasted exactly like cake batter. For that reason, salted butter is required for this recipe.
Quick Tips to Fill the Cupcakes
Filling cupcakes is much easier than you’d think. All you need is a paring knife. I’ve heard good things about cupcake corers, but I have not personally tried one, as I think this is easy enough to do.
I usually only have the first inch or so of the knife in the cupcake; you don’t need to cut any deeper than that. Any deeper and you risk cutting through the paper and potentially cutting the palm of your hand, which we definitely don’t want!
Hold a cupcake in your nondominant hand (that’s my left) with just the tips of your fingers. With your dominant hand, angle a paring knife at about 45° or so and carve a large hole out of the center of the cupcake, keeping the knife angled towards the center of the cupcake at all times.
See the gif below for a visual.
Dish Cleanup: Gonna Take a While
I rate my recipe cleanups on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 is only a handful of dishes, and 5 is everything including the kitchen sink.
My confetti cupcakes with French buttercream recipe has a cleanup rating of a 4. The cake batter by itself creates hardly any dishes (especially if you weigh your ingredients in the bowl instead of measuring them in their own cups), but the buttercream and filling create a few more dishes to fill up your sink.
This filled cupcake recipe has fewer dishes than other filled cupcake recipes, mostly because the filling is only whipped cream. The French buttercream dirties a couple of mixer attachments and a pan, but the rest of it is all pretty standard. And when you take your first bite, it will all have been worth it.
Confetti Cupcakes with French Buttercream Recipe
- 6 Tablespoons butter (80g)
- 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour (185g)
- ¾ cup sugar (150g)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (10g)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (2g)
- ½ cup milk (120 ml)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (5 ml)
- ¼ cup sprinkles (40g)
Whipped Cream Filling
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoons sprinkles (20g)
Birthday Cake Batter French Buttercream
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 3 Tablespoons water (45 ml)
- 1 cup salted butter (226g)
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (15 ml)
- ½ cup powdered sugar (50g)
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (30 ml)
- Sprinkles, for topping
For the Cupcakes
- Place a small bowl (like an average soup or cereal bowl) in the fridge to chill. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line a cupcake pan with paper liners. This recipe will make 18 standard cupcakes or 12 large cupcakes (if your liner doesn't specify, it's the standard size).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment, add butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on low speed for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is fully combined and no large chunks remain. The flour mixture should look sandy and similar to breadcrumbs.
- In a measuring cup with a spout, whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stream in the milk mixture while the mixer is on low. Increase speed to medium. Beat the cake batter until the batter begins to look fluffy and aerated, about 3 minutes.
- Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed. Add in the sprinkles and mix on low for just a couple of revolutions until they're incorporated throughout the mix.
- Fill the cupcake liners only halfway full. It will not look like enough, but they will rise significantly in the oven to the perfect cupcake height. To make things easy and as consistent as possible, I use a 2-Tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop the batter into their liners.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cupcakes are just barely golden on the outer edges. If the cupcakes are fully baked, the cake should spring back if you gently tap it in the center of a cupcake. Place the cupcake pan on a cooling rack and let cool entirely, about 30-45 minutes.
For the Whipped Cream Filling
- Remove the cereal bowl from the fridge and whisk together the whipped cream in it. Feel free to use a hand mixer or whisk by hand. Because the bowl is chilled, it won't take very long to whip!
- Once the whipped cream has soft peaks, mix in the sprinkles until they are just combined. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag (or ziptop bag) and place in the fridge for a few minutes until you're ready to use it.
For the French Buttercream
- Place the egg yolks in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin whisking on medium low. (If you have leftover whites, use them to make macarons tomorrow!) This is especially important if your yolks are cold, as this recipe works best with room temperature egg yolks. You'll be whisking these in the background for a while.
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the syrup reaches the firm ball stage (245°F/118°C). I recommend using a candy thermometer, but any digital thermometer will do as long as it's quick or instant read.
- Once the syrup is ready, reduce the speed on the stand mixer to low and slowly and carefully pour the syrup along the inside of the bowl, staying in one spot just outside of reach of the whisk. Try not to get syrup on the tines of the whisk, as the syrup will splatter and cool down before incorporating into the yolks.
- Once all the syrup has been poured in, increase the speed on the stand mixer to medium high and whisk the yolk mixture until the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch and the yolk mixture is pale yellow and fluffy. If you'd like something to do other than watch the yolks aerate, you can whip up the whipped cream. Otherwise, you can hold off until you've finished making the buttercream.
- When the mixture has cooled, begin incorporating the salted butter into the mix, one piece at a time. The buttercream may begin to look like it's curdling or separate at this point—if that happens, switch to a beater attachment. Once all the butter has been added, add the vanilla extract and switch the whisk to a beater attachment (if you haven't already).
- Turn off the mixer and add in powdered sugar and heavy cream, then beat for two minutes on medium speed to get the buttercream fluffy.
- Place the buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with your preferred tip (I used Wilton 2D) and place in the fridge for a few minutes until you're ready to use it. Do not leave the buttercream in the fridge for more than 20 minutes if you plan to decorate the cupcakes immediately after whipping the cream. If the buttercream hardens in the fridge, you'll have to wait for it to soften and then beat it again to get a silky smooth consistency.
Assembling the Confetti Cupcakes
- With a sharp knife, cut a large hole in the center of each cupcake, angling your knife to the center of the cupcake at all times. Pop the piece of cake out and place it next to the cake, then repeat with the remaining cupcakes. (If you need a visual, see the gif of me doing this in the body of the blog post.)
- Take out the whipped cream from the fridge, cut off the tip of the bag, and fill each cupcake with whipped cream until the cream is about level with the cake. Add each respective cake piece back on top of the filling, pressing down lightly to make sure it stays in place.
- Remove the French buttercream from the fridge and pipe your preferred design on them. I make the classic cupcake swirl by piping one continuous line of buttercream on the outer edge and spiraling inward, overlapping halfway with the last line of buttercream as I went. Once you get to the center of the swirl, stop piping and pull away quickly from the cupcake for a clean finish.
- Top with sprinkles, then serve! If not using immediately, store in the fridge. For the best flavor and texture, remove the cupcakes from the fridge half an hour before eating.
The French buttercream and whipped cream means these cupcakes require refrigeration. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
If you have French buttercream leftover, it freezes beautifully! Freeze for up to three months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes and then beat with a mixer until smooth and fluffy.
Serving Size:1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 384Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 255mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 0gSugar: 24gProtein: 4g
The nutrition facts are estimated and may vary based on specific ingredients used.
Thanks for trying out my confetti cupcakes with French buttercream recipe! I’d love to see how it turns out: Take a photo and tag me on Instagram @floralapronblog to share with me, or use the hashtag #floralapronbakes.
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Other Recipes You May Enjoy
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