Funfetti Cupcakes with Marzipan Buttercream

Hi dear reader and friend. Is it okay if we chat about creativity and inspiration?

Sometimes I end up falling into a slump when work becomes stagnant or when there are a lot of personal life-stuff things that distract my daily flow. I can feel myself sliding down the slope into the valley every time. And the walls bordering the valley keep growing taller and taller making it seem like an impossible task to climb back up.

This space is supposed to be my way out when things like that happen. My personal kitchen and the food and blogging community together are generally nourishing to my creative spark that inspires me to keep pushing the boundaries at work and be an overall happier person.

Lately, it’s as if I have glasses on that are constantly fogging, reducing my visibility or I’m standing in quicksand holding my feet still when I try to move. And while I’m generally especially good at segmenting parts of my life off and focusing on what I need to focus on, the corners of my mind are gunked up with this other garbage.

When that happens, I find it very difficult to get back to where I need to be. I get a little sad.

That negative feedback loop is dreadful for a creativity-based job. And for my wellbeing too. Do you see how that can be challenging? When my free white space for food inspiration is blocked, I start to panic.

Trying times calls for happy baking. AKA Molly’s legendary Funfetti cake. Her words and recipes generally do a good job of cheering me up in general. And while these babes didn’t quite do the trick of pulling me out of my slump, I think they’re a step in the right direction. They made a dent. Aren’t they so fun?

I actually wrote this post last night if you’re reading it the day it went live. I kept putting it off until the last minute hoping I would get some writing inspiration. Then I realized that this space can be whatever I need it to be at the time. So I decided to talk to you.

What do you guys use to cheer you up or recharge yourselves creatively? Sometimes I find it hard to pivot so easily.

I’m going to leave it there with some sprinkle-y photos and a bit of science as a parting gift before the recipe. I cannot believe that I don’t have a bit on the science behind cake flour, so I’ll have to do a future post as a more comprehensive build. But cake flour should be your go-to when you want a really soft crumb. Cake flour has lower gluten content than all-purpose and a much lower gluten content than bread flour. That means there’s more starch giving you a very soft texture. (In fact, this cake has cornstarch added for a suuuuper soft crumb) However, the reduced gluten means that there’s less structure propping your baked good up. Translation: never use cake flour when you want something like a complex pastry or bread.

I used an almond marzipan buttercream as the topping for these babes which is another Molly original. I like it a lot with the funfetti cake because it adds a bit of dimension to the vanilla sweetness. And if you’re looking for more recipes like this, check out the Milk Bar Confetti Cookies I posted my first year of blogging. They’re still one of the more popular recipes on the site.

Off to do some yoga or reading to recharge mentally. I can’t wait to hear from some of you on your thoughts. xo

Funfetti Cupcakes with Marzipan Buttercream

Barely adapted from Molly on the Range and My Name is Yeh

Makes 12 cupcakes

Print Recipe

1 ¼ cups cake flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup sugar

2 large egg whites

2 tablespoons flavorless oil

½ tablespoon clear imitation vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon whole milk

¼ cup rainbow sprinkles (artificially-colored only for best results!)

Marzipan Buttercream

½ cup (64 g) blanched almonds

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 ½ cups powdered sugar

A pinch salt

¾ teaspoon clear imitation vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream

  1. Make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the bowl well. Add the oil and extracts.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry mixture and milk in three alternating batches and mix until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sprinkles until they’re evenly distributed. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, rotating them halfway through. They are done when an inserted toothpick in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Make the buttercream. First, make an almond butter by blending the almonds in the bowl of a food processor, scraping down the sides occasionally, until very creamy, about 5 minutes.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and almond butter until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and then mix in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, and heavy cream until creamy.
  6. Frost the cupcakes once cool, and eat within a day or two.

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23 Comments

  1. Trish
    January 24
    Reply

    Cant wait to bake these! On the topic of recharging- a long hike out in nature usually gets me going on the path to clearing my head. I have the luxury of living near a wooded park that is surrounded by freshwater streams, all leading to a saltwater bay. After hiking a few miles with the dog, preparing a meal with roast chicken always brightens the mood.

    • Kelsey
      January 25
      Reply

      Thanks for ideas Trish! I love the sound of that. Hope all is well xo

      • Trish
        February 2
        Reply

        Hope you’re well, too! xo

  2. January 24
    Reply

    Thank you for being so generous and sharing your emotional pivot. I think it was Buddha who said life is like being in a boat on a river, sometimes the water is smooth and the boat flows easily, sometimes it hits the side of the river bed. When I hit the river bed, I turn to brisk walks in a natural setting (local parks, green neighborhoods), gardening, knitting something angular (no increases or decreases just rhythmic knitting), purging in my home (very therapeutic), tea and catch up with a good friend and most recently (it’s winter here and days are rather grey in Canada right now), I watch an episode of Jamie Oliver’s 5 ingredients. He is so up-beat and passionate – really gets me out of my rut. Please know that your blog and recipes are an inspiration to many of us. Keep up the amazing dedication and work — many of us truly appreciate you and your craft :)

    • Kelsey
      January 25
      Reply

      Miriam, your words are so kind! That means a lot–thank you :) And I like all of your ideas. I’ll be trying them out this weekend xo

  3. I feel you, girl! I’m not surprised you might be in a slump because you’ve had a lot of big life changes (new jobs, moving) over the last few years. I know that stuff can take a big toll on me, personally. When I’m feeling uninspired about the blog or whatever, I have to give myself permission to step away. (Granted, I’m not always good at this … haha.) I have to give myself permission to unplug and recharge. Sometimes that means letting myself watch a lot of TV, or baking cookies just for fun (not for the blog), or just making sure I get plenty of sleep. It’s almost like creativity is a muscle that sometimes needs a rest day so it can recover and get stronger. Maybe you need to take some time off? Explore Boston, try new restaurants, read a new book, etc. I hope you find your way out of the rut soon! xoxo

    • Kelsey
      January 25
      Reply

      Thanks Sara! I’ve been thinking about taking some time off. I’ve got some stuff planned, but I might space things out more. I appreciate your kind words! xo

  4. January 26
    Reply

    Funfetti is always delicious, with this buttercream frosting I can only imagine to taste a piece of heaven in my mouth!

    • Kelsey
      February 2
      Reply

      Thanks Isadora! xo

  5. January 29
    Reply

    I know EXACTLY how you feel. I had two baking mishaps last week and was feeling so down and uninspired in the kitchen, I think sometimes it’s good to just step away, take a mental break and do something totally different. Like you mentioned- yoga or a long walk or just something physical often does the trick. We also need to always remind ourselves that creativity goes through cycles, just like anything else! There are peaks and falls that we just have to ride out sometimes. I’m sure you’ll get your groove back in no time! I mean, these cupcakes are already super groovy in my opinion 😉 xx

    • Kelsey
      February 2
      Reply

      Thanks for the words of encouragement Ruby! :)

  6. February 1
    Reply

    I love these! Saw them on your Instagram and thought they were the cutest cupcakes ever!!
    I feel you on the creativity blocks. Space and distance are usually what I need. Im obsessive so when I start a new activity it consumes me until I am bored which is good for distraction but finding flow again can be difficult.

    • Kelsey
      February 2
      Reply

      Thanks Ruby! I think we’re very similar on the space and distance front. xo

  7. Aaaahh!! I just made some funfetti cupcakes the other day too. But yours are packed with so much sprinkles and have a fancier buttercream. Care to send one over my way 😉

    • Kelsey
      February 6
      Reply

      If only there was one left! 😉 Thanks Cathleen! xo

  8. Thanks for sharing this post. I totally know what you mean. It seems for me that when I’m feeling that way I have to totally break from anything I’m trying to do creatively. Watching movies, vegging out, go for a drink with a friend when I feel I should be working on something, etc. I always find a step back brings back the creativity. Funfetti definitely helps! xoxo

    • Kelsey
      February 6
      Reply

      Thanks Tessa! I’m definitely getting some creative juices back, and I’m so happy that everyone is sharing their own challenges and solutions with creativity. xo

  9. I can definitely empathize — sometimes, it’s so, so hard to be creative / productive on demand. Personally, I find taking some time off to recharge/remind myself why I began the project in the first place very helpful. Also, I love looking at inspiring photos (like these gorgeous shots of the funfetti cupcakes!!) Thanks for your honesty :)

    • Kelsey
      February 14
      Reply

      Thanks for your kind comment Em! xo

  10. February 8
    Reply

    I think a walk or a short run always clears the mind and makes me mentally happier throughout the day. Cooking is another, cooking anything really. The process of following a recipe and weighing or chopping and cooking or baking and eating, can’t forget eating :) and I agree – Molly is a great one to read when you need a perk up. She’s always so cherpy! Thanks for sharing x

    • Kelsey
      February 14
      Reply

      I’m glad we feel the same way about Molly’s blog :) xo

  11. February 10
    Reply

    Hi Kelsey
    I am so glad I found this blog today. You are truly inspiring and thanks for sharing this post. I can relate to it on so many levels. I get so isolated from everyone in such times. It feels so hard to do anything productive regardless of your plans. But sometimes things don’t go as we plan isn’t it? I prefer listening to some jazz or country music and go on short walks or just lie down on my bed. I sometimes like to try one of my grandma’s recipes. It just helps.
    Hope this helps.
    Love your blog and I’ll surely let you know how these cakes turned out.
    Thanks 😀

    • Kelsey
      February 14
      Reply

      Thank you for the wonderful comment Corrie. I can’t begin to explain how much it means to me :) xo

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