Neapolitan Cupcakes - Simply Perfect Birthday Cupcakes

September 19, 2012
Neapolitan Cupcakes are tender 1/2-chocolate & 1/2-vanilla two-tone cupcakes, topped with fluffy strawberry frosting.  It's the classic Neapolitan flavor trio in one tasty little cake! They're perfectly delicious, and simply perfect for any birthday.

1/2 Chocolate - 1/2 Vanilla Neapolitan Cupcakes Image

Psssst! ... It's my birthday. Yes, it's true.  Today is my birthday!

Ever since I can remember, my Mom has made me Neapolitan Sheet Cake for my birthday.  Ever since I can remember, without fail -- even arranging for someone else to make it for me one year when she was going to be out of town. She's a great and caring Mom like that.

I just love the classic Neapolitan flavor trio of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. The three just join together beautifully to make for super tasty treats. And in honor of my Neapolitan birthday tradition, I decided to share a new Neapolitan sweet treat with you today - these Neapolitan cupcakes.

Truth be told, creating the two-tone chocolate and vanilla cupcakes is truly not hard.

Now, let me just tell you, these Neapolitan Cupcakes have definitely been a labor of love.  I've been working on perfecting them for about a year now. Yes, a year. -- Can you believe it?  I've had the cupcake itself figured out for that entire year.  But the frosting?  That's another story.  The frosting is what's been eluding me.  I've had failed attempt after failed attempt, with several versions turning out not-as-I-desired.

Until now! Finally, a friend of mine who knew I was working on this cupcake helped me figure out a strawberry frosting I was happy with. -- Turns out the secrets are cream cheese for texture, and strawberry extract to create full-on strawberry flavor.

Not only do I love the taste of these cupcakes, I also love the "Hey, how'd you do that?" reaction from people when they see them.  Truth be told, creating the two-tone chocolate and vanilla cupcakes is truly not hard.  Read on for the steps of how to make these beautiful and tasty 1/2 chocolate, 1/2 vanilla cupcakes!

Neapolitan Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting Image

How to Make Neapolitan Cupcakes:

To make the 1/2-chocolate, 1/2-vanilla cupcakes, start by whipping up your favorite vanilla cupcake batter and favorite chocolate batter, making sure they're of the same "base recipe with the same required baking temperature and time.  I use my BEST Vanilla Cupcake recipe adapted from the wonderful bakers at The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, along with their corresponding chocolate cupcakes recipe.

Once the batters are mixed, put a little chocolate batter on one side of a paper cupcake liner set in a muffin pan.  I've found tipping the pan just a tiny bit to keep the chocolate batter to one side is helpful -- but you only need to tip truly a tiny bit.

Adding Chocolate Batter to Make Neapolitan Cupcakes Image

Then, put some vanilla batter on the other side.  I've found the chocolate batter to be just a teeny bit thicker, so it "runs" just a little bit less, which is why I start with the chocolate.

How to Make Neapolitan Cupcakes Image

Then pop the cupcake pans in the oven and bake the cupcakes up. When they come out of the oven, they'll look like this:

Baked Mixed Chocolate & Vanilla Cupcakes Image

Aren't they cool looking?  I love the side-by-side look of the two flavors.  

I tried marbling the two batters together instead in one batch, and while they taste the same, the look just isn't as dramatic and appealing. We like the side-by-side look way better.

Baked 1/2 Chocolate - 1/2 Vanilla Cupcakes Image

Once the cupcakes are cooled, whip up some cream cheese-based strawberry frosting.

Mixing Strawberry Frosting Image

Pipe the frosting onto the beautiful 1/2-and-1/2 cupcakes. Then sprinkle on a few pink sugar pearls, just for fun, if you'd like.

Neapolitan Cupcakes Decorated with Pink Sugar Pearls Image

Then unwrap and indulge in the Neapolitan Cupcakes deliciousness!

Because tender 1/2-chocolate & 1/2-vanilla cupcakes topped with fluffy strawberry frosting create the classic Neapolitan flavor trio in one tasty little cake. They're perfectly delicious, and simply perfect for any birthday.


Check out these other super tasty cupcake recipes:
Neapolitan Cupcakes Image
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Neapolitan cupcakes, Neapolitan cupcakes recipe, how to make Neapolitan cupcakes, how to make mixed chocolate and vanilla cupcakes
Cupcakes
American
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Author: Tracey | The Kitchen is My Playground
Neapolitan Cupcakes

Neapolitan Cupcakes

Neapolitan Cupcakes are tender 1/2-chocolate & 1/2-vanilla cupcakes, topped with fluffy strawberry frosting. It's the classic Neapolitan flavor trio in one tasty little cake!
Prep time: 1 H & 15 MCook time: 25 MinTotal time: 1 H & 40 M

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcake Batter:
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • A scant 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 T. butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Chocolate Cupcake Batter:
  • 3/4 c. + 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 T. unsweetened baking cocoa powder
  • A scant 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 T. butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Strawberry Frosting:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. strawberry jelly
  • 1 tsp. strawberry extract
  • 5 &  1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • a few drops pink or red food coloring (optional)

Instructions

Prepare the Vanilla Cupcake Batter:
  1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a mixing bowl. Beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency. 
  2. Gradually pour in half of the milk (which is 1/4 cup); beat on slow speed until the milk is just incorporated.
  3. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture and beat on slow speed until all ingredients are just incorporated. 
  4. Beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute until the batter is smooth, turning up the speed to medium as needed to remove any lumps. Do not over mix.
Prepare the Chocolate Cupcake Batter:
  1. Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a mixing bowl. Beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you have a crumb mixture with a sandy consistency.
  2. Gradually pour in half of the milk (which is 1/4 cup); beat on slow speed until the milk is just incorporated.
  3. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture and beat on slow speed until all ingredients are just incorporated.
  4. Beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute until the batter is smooth, turning up the speed to medium as needed to remove any lumps. Do not over mix.
Make the Cupcakes:
  1. Line 24 muffin cups (two pans) with paper cupcake liners.
  2. For each muffin cup, spoon a little chocolate batter into one side of the cupcake liner; then spoon a little vanilla batter into the other side, filling each cup a total of 1/2 full. (Do not overfill.) Repeat to fill all 24 muffin cups.
  3. Bake at 325℉ for 20 - 25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake springs back when lightly touched. 
  4. Cool slightly in the pan, about 10 minutes, before removing cupcakes to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Prepare the Strawberry Frosting:
  1. Combine cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Add strawberry jelly, strawberry extract, and salt. Beat for a few seconds until just combined.
  3. Add confectioners sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed for a few seconds between each addition. If using pink or red food coloring, add it with the last cup of confectioners sugar. 
  4. Once all confectioners sugar has been added, increase mixer speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds until smooth (do not over beat).
  5. Pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
  6. Decorate with a sprinkling of pink sugar pearls and/or white non-pareil sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator. Set out at room temperature about 20-30 minutes prior to serving to allow the frosting to soften.
TRACEY'S NOTES:
  1. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes. And it really does make 24! Fill your cups only 1/2 full, as this batter rises quite a bit. When I divided the batter between only 20 or so muffin cups, I had several that rose over the sides of the cups way too much. If you're like me, you'll feel like there's not enough batter to stretch to 24 cupcakes ... but there really is.
  2. The cupcake batter also works just fine with 2% milk instead of whole milk.
  3. I've made this frosting both with and without strawberry extract. Strawberry extract can be difficult to find (it is available for order on Amazon). -- If you're unable to find it, you can go ahead and make the frosting without it. While the strawberry flavor won't be nearly as prominent, the frosting is still great without it.
  4. I do not recommend using reduced fat cream cheese for the frosting, as this can make cream cheese-based frostings too thin and runny.
  5. Also, avoid over beating the frosting, as over beating can cause cream cheese frostings to become thin and runny, as well.


Neapolitan Cupcakes ~ Beautiful, tender 1/2-chocolate & 1/2-vanilla two-tone cupcakes, topped with fluffy strawberry frosting.  It's the classic Neapolitan flavor trio in one tasty little cake! They're perfectly delicious, and simply perfect for any birthday.  www.thekitchenismyplayground.com


This post is linked with Weekend PotluckMeal Plan Monday.

21 comments

  1. Happy Birthday, Tracey! I hope it's a great one. These cupcakes are so adorable and sound delicious! Have one for me!

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  2. Happy Birthday! Love the cupcakes, have a great celebration.

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  3. Happy Birthday!!! These look amazing and better than mine! Yum!
    I hope you had fun today :-)

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  4. Well Happy B-Day to you and they are some beautiful cupcakes! Since B-Day calories don't count, I hope you had a couple:@)

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I LOVE your thinking! I'm so glad to hear that b-day calories don't count. Yes, I indeed did enjoy 'a couple' of these scrumptious cupcakes.

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  5. As an Italian American how can I not love these. I will pin them. Please share them on foodie friday if you haven't already.

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  6. Happy birthday! These cupcakes really caught my eye- what a creative way to use neapolitan flavors. thank you for sharing!

    Noelle @ norrey

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  7. Hope you had a wonderful birthday! These cupcakes look wonderful. I'm so glad you got the frosting just how you wanted it. I struggled with a fresh raspberry cream cheese frosting till I wanted to scream! Them my 86 year old aunt who was an amazing cake maker in her day said, honey you can't use fresh raspberries in a frosting. They contain so much liquid by the time you get the consistency right the raspberry flavor is gone.
    Sorry, too much info. I just wanted to share my failure with someone who understood. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Cindy, I certainly understand! Consistency was my trouble with this one, too ... I wanted it kinda light & fluffy, not as stiff as a buttercream. But it's a VERY fine line between light & fluffy and run-like-liquid-all-over-the-place! I had many, many, many that just collapsed into runny little puddles on the cupcakes. Cream cheese turned out to be the answer. Thanks so much for reading The Kitchen is My Playground!

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  8. Happy Birthday!!! I love Neapolitan anything!!!! These are so pretty! I love them, I love the cream cheese frosting too!

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  9. Happy Birthday to you Tracey!!!!
    What a beautiful cupcake to celebrate your birthday, I would love it for my birthday. Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  10. Ok, I'm thinking that since our birthdays are so close, we should start a tradition to have these (or any of your delicious cupcakes) for a double-birthday girl's night! Good idea, right!?

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  11. Great idea! Gonna have to steal it!

    www.shilohstaste.com

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  12. Happy Birthday to you !:)
    These are gorgeous looking cupcakes, and they also sounds super delicious!:)

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  13. Sorry I'm so late to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! These cupcakes are gorgeous, and that frosting. YUM!

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  14. Congrats! You've been featured at The Kurtz Corner! http://www.thekurtzcorner.com/2012/10/tuesday-tutorials-link-party-no-50.html

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  15. My favorite ice cream as a kid was Neapolitan! These are right up my alley! Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party. Hope the rest of your week is amazing!

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  16. These look just perfect! My son was looking for some Neapolitan cake/ cupcake ideas. I'll have to share this with him. Pinned.

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  17. Love this mini version of a classic combo Tracey.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe at Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I'm delighted to be featuring your Neapolitan Cupcakes at tonight's party and pinning too.
    Hugs,
    Kerryanne

    ReplyDelete

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