Chocolate or vanilla? These Marble Cupcakes with Swirled Chocolate-Vanilla Frosting are perfect for those days when you just can’t decide! My favorite part: they’re just as fast and easy to make as a single batter & frosting cupcake recipe.
Let’s get one thing straight, folks: Decision-making as an adult is hard. Sure, growing up everyone would warn you about the dangers of sex and drugs and dropping out of school–and these are valid concerns (though as someone who spent 23 years in formal education, I still find it amusing that nobody ever warned me about the dangers of staying in school too long). But back when the hardest decision of my daily life was whether to order the kids’ menu-sized grilled cheese with a side of chunky tomato soup (so good) or a plate of dino-shaped chicken nuggets with a side of wavy-cut fries (argh also so good), it was nigh impossible to imagine the agony of having to make real decisions ALL THE TIME.
Real decisions like:
What kind of career should I pursue now in order to ensure that I am still happy ten years down the road?
Should I try to get seven full hours of sleep a night or spend more time Googling “How did the Uruk-hai know what a menu was?” even though it’s already 3 AM and I have to get up for work at 6?
I have exactly $100 saved this month: do I spend it on fixing the toilet or buying that new red IKEA rug I’ve been eyeing? I mean, using the toilet at Starbucks every day isn’t that bad, is it?
Fortunately, there are two very easy solutions for those of us who suffer from Chronic Decision-making Paralysis, and neither of them involves actually curing ourselves of our indecision (you’re welcome!).
The first is the Paradox of Limited Choices. At In-N-Out, you can get a burger. You can get a burger with cheese. You can get a burger with cheese and two patties and a side of fresh fries, but that’s basically as complicated as things get at good ol’ In-N-Out. Simplicity wins the hearts of non-deciders everywhere, every time.
The second is the Beautiful Blending of All Available Options. Feeling conflicted about whether to grab a fork, or a spoon, or a knife? Why not grab a SPLAYD instead? (Yes, this was invented by an Australian in the 1940s and actually exists.) There are Goldendoodles for dog lovers, hybrid baby-strollers-cum-scooters for impatient parents, and now, for the cupcake lovers in the room: these incredible Marble Cupcakes with Swirled Chocolate-Vanilla Frosting!
I recently made these for a friend’s birthday because I couldn’t decide whether he would like vanilla or chocolate cupcakes more–so I ended up making both! For inspiration, I turned to an easy Marble Cupcake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and made a few small changes, like subbing oil for butter for a moister crumb and doubling the recipe to create a dozen generously-sized cupcakes–but my favorite part is that you only need to create ONE batter here. (Hint: You’ll simply divide the batter in half and add some extra cocoa powder to one half at the end before baking!)
The result was an extraordinary combination of rich vanilla flavors balanced by the dark, cocoa-y notes of chocolate spiraling throughout. I also topped these with a swirl of my favorite vanilla and chocolate cream cheese frostings, which I love so much that choosing between them would be like deciding whether to trade a first edition Mewtwo Pokemon card for an equally rare Charizard holo…
And the best part? I didn’t have to decide, after all.
For the cupcakes:
- 3 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk (or soy milk), divided
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
For the frostings:
- 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons milk, as needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake molds with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Stir in oil until combined (mixture will be gritty). Blend in eggs, vanilla, and yogurt. Add 1 1/2 cup milk and carefully blend into mixture until incorporated.
- Divide batter into two separate bowls. To one bowl, stir in cocoa powder and remaining 2 tablespoons milk.
- Scoop a heaping tablespoon of vanilla batter into each cupcake liner, then do the same with chocolate batter. Repeat once more until all batter is used, then take a toothpick and swirl through each of the filled cupcake liners to create a light "marbling" effect. (Don't worry too much about how you swirl--just a few zigzags will create a beautiful result!)
- Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean with moist crumbs clinging to it. Set aside to cool completely before frosting.
For the frostings:
- In a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese, vanilla yogurt, lemon juice, and vanilla. Carefully mix in powdered sugar half a cup at a time. If mixture is too thick, add a teaspoon of milk as needed.
- Divide frosting into two bowls, then add cocoa powder to one mixture--this is your chocolate frosting.
- Once cupcakes are cooled, carefully spoon vanilla frosting into one half of your piping bag and chocolate frosting into the other half, so that the two frostings are vertically side by side. Pipe frosting as you normally would to create a "swirl" frosting effect!
- Alternate option: Frost half of your cupcakes with vanilla frosting and the other half with chocolate frosting.