After I decided to bake cupcakes for DC Cupcake Camp, I had to decide what kind to make. It wasn’t an easy choice.
First, I made a long list of ideas. Then I asked some friends for their input on the options and tested out three of the top options. This was the third one I made, and several people liked this the best — especially those who don’t like nuts or coconut (which were both in the cupcakes I did make). It’s pretty simple and the results are light, sweet and pretty. Win.
You’re going to need a lot of egg whites for this. And some cotton candy flavoring. I ordered mine online, but you may be able to get some at a cake/candy supply store. Or you could just use vanilla and make these light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes.
I wasn’t sure how well this angelfood-esque cake would work in cupcake form; the original cake recipe calls for hanging the cake pan (with the baked cake in it) upside down on a bottle. Obviously I wasn’t going to hang the cupcakes upside down. But they turned out quite nicely anyway.
Be careful when you fold the flour mixture in — you want the batter to be super fluffy. And remember to smooth the tops of the cupcakes a bit with a spatula when you spoon the batter into the cups.
The texture of the cake is reminiscent of cotton candy, the frosting (as long as you whip the hell out of it) is light and tastes like cotton candy, and the sprinkles on top are similar to the crunchy crystallized sugar that forms on cotton candy when it gets a little bit damp.
What I’m saying is, if you like cotton candy, you’ll like these.
I’m partial to pink, clearly, but these could also be cute with cotton-candy blue frosting. And even cuter with a dollop of real cotton candy on top. Cotton-candy-licious.
Cotton candy cloud cupcakes (Makes about two dozen, adapted from this Martha Stewart cake)
1/2 cup sifted cake flour (if you don’t have cake flour, sift 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon corn starch together several times, then measure again)
3/4 cup superfine sugar, divided
7 large egg whites, at room temperature (it’s easier to separate the eggs when cold, so you may want to do that first and then let the whites sit in the bowl for a bit)
1/2 tablespoon warm water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350F. Sift the flour and 6 tablespoons of the sugar together four times.
In the (very clean) bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and warm water on medium speed until foamy (like bubble bath). Add the salt, cream of tartar and vanilla and beat until soft peaks form. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually sprinkle in the remaining sugar. Continue beating until the egg white mixture holds stiff peaks.
Sift the dry ingredients over the meringue in three additions, folding the ingredients together carefully after each addition. Continue (gently) folding until all ingredients are well combined.
Spoon the batter into lined cupcake cups, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way. Smooth out the tops a bit with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
Bake the cupcakes about 25 minutes, until they’re golden brown and the tops bounce back when you poke them gently with your finger.
Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting.
Cotton candy frosting
1/2 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1-2 teaspoons cotton candy flavoring (mine is extra concentrated and about 1 teaspoon would have been good)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 pound powdered sugar (3-4 cups)
1-4 tablespoons milk (optional)
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, and use a hand-held electric mixer). Turn the mixer on medium speed and beat the bejeezus out of the butter. Once the butter is extremely light and fluffy (like 8-10 minutes), add about a cup of powdered sugar and turn mixer on low to combine.
Add cotton candy flavoring (if you’re not sure how concentrated your flavoring is, start with 1 teaspoon — you can always add more later) and vanilla (if you want the frosting to taste like vanilla cotton candy) and beat for 30-60 seconds on medium to combine.
Add another cup of powdered sugar and beat on low to combine, then beat an additional minute or so on medium speed. Taste the frosting. Add more powdered sugar a cup or so at a time, beating well after each addition, until frosting is desired sweetness.
Add 1-2 tablespoons milk and beat frosting for about 5 minutes on medium speed. If frosting still seems too thick, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons milk and beat again.