button cupcake closeup

First, allow me to thank you for the incredible comments you left on my last blog post. I was impressed by your thoughtful responses and it’s clear the subject resonated with a great many of you. Thank you also for the incredible number of emails you sent. I learned a great deal from your insights and know others did as well.
bowl of frosting
buttoned up cupcakes
On a related note, my husband picked up a book (on CD) this week that neither of us have been unable to put down. I recall the book had a tremendous impact on own my mother and I assumed when I picked it up I’d be reading about her generation. I was stunned at how relevant the book is today in 2012 – for women and men, at home and at work.
I must say, I’m not sure I would have fully grasped the message at an earlier point in my life but currently both my husband and I are finding it quite compelling and it’s raised some wonderful discussions in my house. If you are up for some self-reflection, I highly recommend the book.
Now, let’s have some chocolate.

milk and cupcake

Just a few short weeks ago we headed up to Je t’aime en Chocolat, Montreal’s first chocolate show at Marche Bonsecours. It was wonderful. There were demonstrations, tastings, chocolate sculptures, chocolate fashion showseven dresses made out of meringue. Incredible, really. With the temperature at 6 degrees (-14 c) outside it was nice to be eating chocolate while warm and toasty indoors.
festival sign
chef collage
choco collage
chocolate woman
montreal street
When we finally made it home, I decided to make something a bit lighter than the dark chocolate truffles and mousse that we ate up north. I opted instead for making vanilla cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting (if you can call that lighter). I decided to decorate them with the sugar buttons we bought at our favorite patisserie.
box of buttons
cupcake in buttons
While we were in Montreal, I also picked picked up a delicious assortment of chocolate bars with flavors including coconut, ginger, milk caramel, orange chocolate, to name a few.
In total, I bought 10 incredible chocolate bars from all over the world. I want one of you to have this amazing collection of chocolate bars so I’m giving them away to a lucky winner.
Here’s how you can enter to win:
  • Leave a comment on this post before midnight on Friday March 9, 2012
  • Make sure your comment links directly to a site where you can be contacted. Otherwise include a Twitter or email address in your email address. Only comments that include this information are eligible to win.
  • One entry per person.
  • The winner will be selected at random and contacted on Saturday March 10, 2012 before noon (EST).
  • Be sure to check your inbox, messages or comments. If no response is received by March 12 at noon (EST), another winner will be selected.
  • This giveaway will ship anywhere in the world.
Don’t forget to Tweet about @freshnewengland too! Every tweet about this post is an additional chance to win.


While you wait to hear who wins, I recommend trying these cupcakes. I labored over the recipe and made about 10 different versions until I got it right. You will love them. Enjoy!
bite of cupcake
World’s Best Vanilla Cupcake
121 g (9 1/3 tbs) unsalted butter, softened
16 g (1 1/3 tbs) vegetable shortening, softened
305 g (1 1/2 c) sugar
3 large eggs
256 g (2 1/4 c) cake flour, sifted
13 g (2 1/2 tsp) baking powder
3 g (1 tsp) salt
250 ml (1 c) whole milk
6 g (1 1/2 tsp) vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together butter, vegetable shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Thoroughly beat in 3 eggs.
Sift together dry ingredients. Set aside. Stir together milk and vanilla. Set aside. Stir in the dry and wet ingredients alternately beginning with the milk. To finish, beat for about 35 seconds on high.
Insert cupcake liners into muffin tins. Fill liner 3/4 full. Do not open the oven before 15 minutes.
Bake 20-24 minutes until the cupcake springs back to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Baking time will vary depending on your oven and the size of the cupcake liner you choose. Keep an eye on them.
Milk Chocolate Ganache Frosting
305 g (10 1/2 oz) good quality milk chocolate such as Callebaut or Valrohna, finely chopped
320 ml (1 1/3 cups) heavy cream
78 ml (1/3) cup corn syrup (you can reduce this amount down to 2bs. if you find it too sweet)
4 g (1 tsp) vanilla
340 g (3 sticks butter) softened
178 g (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
Melt the chocolate carefully. I place it in a bowl and put it in the microwave for about 1 minute. You don’t want the chocolate to completely melt in the microwave because milk chocolate burns easily. Instead, after 45 seconds, take it out and stir it until the residual heat from the bowl melts as much of the remaining chocolate as possible. Repeat in 15 second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Then mix the cream, corn syrup and vanilla in a small pan and bring to a boil. Stir into melted chocolate. Cool to room temperature.
Beat butter on high with paddle attachment for 1 minute until creamy. On low speed add powdered sugar and blend. Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat with whisk attachment until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until spreadable about 45 minutes to 2 hours. Frost cupcakes.
Note: You can adjust the frosting to your taste. If you find milk chocolate too sweet as a stand alone flavor, try stirring in an additional 1/2 cup melted dark chocolate. If after chilling the frosting for a few hours, you decide you want the frosting to be more firm, you can beat in more powdered sugar.
Bon Appetit!
Fresh New England

Get inspired to love & support local food. We have some great ideas sprouting up so browse our site for more delicious finds.

  1. Hello El. It looks like you had a good time in Montreal, all that chocolate… it must have been heaven.
    The sugar buttons are so cute.

    Also, your cupcakes look amazing! I trust you completely so I will definitely be trying them as soon as possible. I’m in a cupcake baking mode these past few days!

  2. Woah, I need to make this vanilla cake recipe. I only make one vanilla cake recipe and it’s my Mom’s recipe, moist, delicate, happy cake. Yours looks fantastic and interesting that it has both butter and shortening, must try! I’d love to win chocolate…cause…I’m addicted! πŸ™‚ -@nella22

  3. Those buttons are A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E., just adorable El!! So much chocolate talk is making me hungry and am soaking into the beauty of your post! That last ‘bitten cupcake’ tell the story of how light these must have been! YUM!!

  4. I love Montreal. I have not heard of the chocolate festival there and it would be a good reason to soak up that city again. I have been there for three lengthy stays, and still have not had enough of it!
    I don’t know of your favourite patisserie… is it called Sugar? The place where you bought the chocolate buttons. I thought I kept up with most great food related shops there – but don’t think I am familiar with it. What is the name of the place where you bought the sugar buttons?
    How you used them is charming… I have a sandwich cookie I can see them on, too… they are so 1950’s. I adore them. Vanilla cupcakes are not easy to make “tasty” so I am eager to try your recipe. It does definitely look light and luscious.

  5. These look so good I wish I could reach through the screen and take a huge bite ! The sugar buttons are darling and such a cute touch. I will try these soon. Who doesn’t love a vanilla cake WITH chocolate ! oh…and the chocolate………….!!! denisecott@yahoo.com

  6. BexC- Thanks for your comment. They’re in 1/3 measurements because you don’t need a whole additional tablespoon of butter or shortening. Simply take the stick of butter or vegetable shortening, move the knife to the proper full tbs. line, then move the knife further toward the next tbs. about 1/3 of the way. Another whole tbs. was too much. The other way was too little. This is why I prefer grams -easier and more precise.

  7. But.. but…. but why would you give away your chocolate?!? It is mind boggling:)

    The chocolate show sounds like a nice time, I’ve only driven through Montreal (at rush hour, eep!), so I’d love to visit.

    I used to enjoy looking at my mom’s collection of button jars when I was little so much, that I would play with them from time to time. I appreciate seeing them here, it takes me back.

  8. I’d love to visit Montreal one day. It looks like such a beautiful and cosmopolitan city.

    What beautiful cupcakes and my favorite combination also – yellow cake with chocolate ganache.

    Love the button topper and those chocolate bars look wonderful!

  9. Hmmm… I am not sure that worked. Here goes again. I’m always up for self reflection AND chocolate. Those buttons are adorable and, as per usual, my mouth is watering. Sadly, I’m off wheat right now. What the heck? Hope to be gorging on cupcakes again soon, however…. xo

  10. Brand new follower of your blog. Love it. πŸ™‚ I was searching for a vanilla cupcake recipe and found your blog via Cup of Cake. Your recipe is exactly what i am looking for.

  11. Paola- I agree. I don’t like vegetable shortening either. It’s a minimal amount and it does make a difference in texture. That said, I see no reason why you couldn’t see how they turn out with pure butter. I hope you enjoy them either way.

  12. I grew up in Canada and miss the quality of the chocolate there. I must remember to stock up when I go home to visit. Those cupcakes look perfect!

    I found your blog on theKitchn list of Best Recipe Blogs. I can’t wait to keep browsing through it. I also live in New England and am passionate about local foods.

  13. Mmm this recipe is similar to the one we use at the cupcake shop I bake at. I think I’ll try these out and compare : }
    Oh and I’m so jealous that you’re so close to Montreal. My mother was born there and we try to go back to visit her family every year. Downtown is just such a wonderful area, especially if you’re into pastries!

    Brietodd (at) mac (dot) com

  14. these cupcakes are gorgeous! they look so light and delicious–i’ve been meaning to try out the magnolia bakery recipe but just might have to postpone it for these! have you tried the magnolia recipe?

  15. Wow, those look delicious, i’m a helicopter pilot that just returned from another tour (afghanistan this time) and have found that baking desserts is (sometimes) relaxing. Unfortunately, i’ve found that i’m pretty horrible at it right now, my 6y/o daughter and 4y/o son wouldn’t even eat my last batch of Christina Tosi recipe cookies! lol.

    I’ll keep trying, you keep posting inspiration!

    I’d like to win the chocolate bars!

    danehylen1 (at) gmail (dot) com

  16. Your photographs are amazing and I just love reading your stories…your writing is beautiful and I feel like I am “talking” to a real person…especially the story about your first experience baking. I am desperately looking for a good vanilla cake recipe with chocolate…I will be trying this one out tomorrow on my 6, 5 and almost 3 year old.

  17. Hello, just stumbled across your blog today. It’s beautiful! I wanted to pin this recipe onto pinterest but it won’t allow me. Is this a technical problem or is it blocked on purpose? Thanks!

  18. How many cupcakes (in a standard muffin/cupcake tin) does this recipe make? It looks like it would yield 18 or 24, but I would like to know how many you got. I scanned the comments for the answer, but did not see it (forgive me if I missed it). Thank you!

  19. Julie, Thanks for asking. It’s been a while and I used small wrappers to make them. If I had to guess I would say about 18.

  20. I just finished devouring one of these fantastic cupcakes and I have to say it’s the best I’ve ever had. It is moist and light and flavorful. They baked up a treat!
    I filled up my liners roughly 2/3 full and got 24 cupcakes.

    Thanks again for posting this recipe.

  21. I just finished devouring one of these fantastic cupcakes and I have to say it’s the best I’ve ever had. It is moist and light and flavorful. They baked up a treat!
    I filled up my liners roughly 2/3 full and got 24 cupcakes.

    Thanks again for posting this recipe.

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