What You Need:
- 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain chocolate cake mix
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar (see “The Cupcake Doctor Says” for additional information)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Vegetable oil spray for misting the pans
- All-purpose flour for dusting the pans
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- Red and yellow food coloring (to mix together to make orange)
- Red, yellow, and orange sugar sprinkles, or 1 package (.33 ounce) Pop Rocks candy, for garnish
What You Do:
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Mist 24 cupcake cups with vegetable oil spray and dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set the pans aside.
- Have your child help you prepare the cupcake batter: Place the cake mix, water, oil, eggs, vinegar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed.
- Invite your child to spoon or scoop 1/4 cup batter into each prepared cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full. (You will get between 22 and 24 cupcakes). Place the pans in the oven.
- Bake the cupcakes until they peak and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, generally 11 to 13 minutes. Watch the cupcakes closely because they can burn at this high heat. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcakes, lift the cupcakes up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before glazing.
- Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Place the milk, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, the butter melts, and the mixture begins to come to a boil, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the white chocolate chips until they are dissolved and the glaze is smooth.
- Place the cupcakes on a serving plate or place waxed paper under the baking rack to catch runoff glaze. With a serving spoon, ladle the hot glaze over the cupcakes and ask your child to immediately sprinkle them with the sugar or candy so that the colors melt into the glaze. The cupcakes are ready to serve!
Keep Them Fresh!
Store these cupcakes, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
The Cupcake Doctor Says...
Unflavored vinegar is best, but you can use cider vinegar. Cake mixes already contain a perfect amount of leavening, and that’s why it’s tricky to get them to peak in the center! If you are more interested in eating a moist chocolate cupcake with white chocolate glaze than you are in creating a science experiment, forgo the vinegar and soda in the batter and the sugar sprinkle garnish.