What's America's favorite cupcake flavor? Chocolate... and vanilla. Yes, the data shows that Americans love chocolate and vanilla in their cupcakes: either vanilla cake with chocolate icing, or chocolate cake with vanilla icing. So when you need enough cupcakes for a crowd, you can't go wrong with either one of these combos.

I often bake cupcakes for sharing. Cupcakes are a super-simple way to say "Thank you," "Hope you feel better," or simply to brighten someone's day: I've never yet met anyone who said "No thanks" to a plate of my cupcakes!

My favorite cupcake recipe starts with old-fashioned hot milk cake, a close-grained, tender sponge cake (think Twinkie consistency, but fresh and moist). The recipe goes together in a flash; there's no "creaming" of butter and sugar, no alternating flour with milk, simply beating together a list of simple ingredients.

Once baked and cooled, I ice the cupcakes with two-ingredient chocolate ganache: heavy cream, heated to a simmer and poured over chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips).

(I said these were simple, right?)

I get out paper plates, fill them with cupcakes, and head out to the car. It's time to share.

Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour
Rae accepts my most recent cupcake delivery at Titcomb's.

Titcomb's Bookshop in East Sandwich, MA is a regular stop. I love words; which means I love books, and Titcomb's, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is one of the country's finest independent bookstores.

I often bake treats for author readings at Titcomb's; or simply because hey, staffing a busy bookstore can be hard work, and cupcakes are a just reward for making the world a better place — one book at a time.

Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour
Donna, ready to take a cupcake break from shucking corn and helping customers.

Next stop: Crow Farm. Just yards away from my house, this family-owned business is currently celebrating its 101st season. From spring through Christmas, locals and visitors alike crowd the rustic stand for fresh-picked lettuce and strawberries, corn and squash, peaches and pears, apples and cranberries.... plus cheese and eggs and jam and homemade pies and quick breads — well, you get the delicious picture!

Where else do I deliver my fresh-baked goodies? To the library ladies. The car mechanics who keep my vehicles in shape. The docs and assistants at the animal hospital. The guys who service the power tools used by the trail volunteers at our local nature preserve (and to the volunteers themselves).

Get the picture? I love to bake; people love to eat; I love to share. Win-win-win!

I highly endorse the following cupcake recipe. Give them a try; and since you'll end up with two dozen, be sure to share!

The best cupcakes for sharing

We'll start by making cupcakes from this Hot Milk Cake recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two standard muffin pans with cupcake papers; grease the papers.

Gather these ingredients:

2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup milk (whole milk preferred)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the batter

Beat the eggs and sugar together until they're light and fluffy, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed using an electric or stand mixer. Slowly beat in the oil.

Weigh your flour; you’ll find its weight by toggling to “ounces” at the top of the ingredient section above. Or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder to the egg mixture in the bowl, beating just enough to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then beat again, to fully incorporate any sticky bits.

In a saucepan set over medium heat (or in the microwave), bring the butter and milk just to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir the mixture until the butter is completely melted.

Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the cake batter along with the vanilla, mixing until everything is well combined. Scrape the bowl, and mix briefly, just until smooth.

Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour

The batter will be very thin. Don't panic; it's supposed to look like this.Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour

Pour the batter into the pans

Divide the batter among the pans. If you have a muffin scoop, filling it just shy of the top rim is the right amount.

Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour

If you don't have a muffin scoop, pour a generous 3 cups of the batter into a cup with a spout (like this measuring cup). This amount of batter will fill one pan.

Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour

Each well will be a generous three-quarters full.   Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour

Bake the cupcakes

Bake until the cupcakes' tops are light gold, about 20 minutes; a toothpick inserted into the center of one cupcake should come out clean.

Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool them on a rack.

Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflourIce and serve

Heat 1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream to a simmer. Remove from the heat, and immediately combine with 1 cup (6 ounces) chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips, though they won't melt quite as smoothly).

Wait 10 minutes, then stir until smooth. When you first start stirring, the icing will look like a gloppy mess. Don't panic! Keep stirring, and all of a sudden it'll come together.Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour

Dip the top of each cupcake into the icing. Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour

Spread any remaining icing over the tops of the cakes.

Cupcakes for Sharing via @kingarthurflour
After delivering to the bookshop and farm stand, I bag up the remainder of the cupcakes and toss them into my husband's car for him and his fellow Thornton Burgess Society trail volunteers.

Share

Enjoy the smiles! And there can be smiles all around: if you're baking gluten-free, simply substitute our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour for the All-Purpose Flour in the recipe — no other changes needed.

PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!