Not knowing anyone's chocolate or vanilla preference, I chose a pound cake type with a glaze. The glaze was great because it was so much more easy to make than frosting - no beating cups and cups of confectioners sugar into a bowl! There were compliments all around and not a single cupcake left!
Brown Sugar Pound Cupcakes with a Brown-Butter Glaze
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk** (see note at bottom)
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablelspoons whole milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line your cupcake tins with paper liners. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (except brown sugar)l. In another bowl cream butter and brown sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating each on in before adding the next.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Measure out the buttermilk and set aside. You will use this as your wet ingredient. Next you'll begin adding the wet ingredients (buttermilk) and dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) into the butter and brown sugar mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet and ending with a dry ingredient addition. Scrape sides of bowl as you mix the batter. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. I use an ice cream scoop with a wire scraper to measure out the batter evenly.
Bake cupcakes until a toothpick tester inserted into centers comes our clean, about 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the tins.
Once the cupcakes are cooled, make the glaze. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to turn a golden brown color, about 10 minutes. Then pour the butter into a bowl being careful not to pour the little brown bits at the bottom of the pan into the bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons milk to the melted butter and stir until smooth. If you want a thinner glaze, add another tablespoon or two of milk. Spoon about a tablespoonful of the glaze on each of the cupcakes and let them stand until set. I preferred a thicker glaze because I wanted a nice dollop on top, but a thinner one would spread out more.
**No buttermilk? You need the acidity of the buttermilk to help the cupcakes rise so you can't substitute regular milk. So, take a 1 cup liquid measuring cup and put in a tablespoon of cider vinegar in then fill up with milk for a full cup. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes and you've got buttermilk. Use the 3/4 cup you need for the recipe - you'll have a little bit left over, but not as much you would if you bought a whole quart as buttermilk isn't the type of milk you want to add to your cereal!