Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

Cupcakes. I love cupcakes. Think about it: they are cakes, but they fit in your hand. Cakes that you can justify eating more than one of because they’re so gosh darn tiny and cute. Cupcakes = Love.

My husband recently had a birthday, which was inconveniently placed among our Thanksgiving travels. As such, he didn’t really get the full birthday treatment (although, we did indulge in some alcohol at 34,000 feet, which we never do). So when we got home, I promised him I’d make him any birthday treat he wanted. When he requested Cookies & Cream Cupcakes, I was more than happy to oblige!

Since we had just returned from a week-long trip, and bags were still exploding all over our apartment, I didn’t want to invest a million hours into baking. I love this cupcake recipe because it is quick, simple, and requires almost no specialty ingredients. Also, they’re amazingly delicious.

First order of business was running to the grocery store. Normally, I have a pretty well-stocked baking pantry (blog post coming soon on how to have a well-stocked pantry). However, due to life and stuff, I haven’t been baking very much this last year (which is going to change!). Still, even with a bare-bones pantry, I only had to buy Oreos and powdered sugar. Not too shabby!

Now, we could get to baking. There is a reason these cupcakes are so simple. If you know anything about baking, you know that 99% of cakes are made via the “creaming method,” which involves whipping butter and sugar together and then alternating dry ingredients with wet ingredients. It’s not a difficult process, but it does take a little time. These cupcakes are made via the “muffin method.” This method simply mixes the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another bowl, and then mixing them together. Easy peasy cupcake squeazy.

These cupcakes have a super simple American buttercream frosting. Often, when I make a big fancy cake, I’ll invest my time in a good Italian buttercream, which involves making a syrup and whipping butter into it. It’s incredible, but it’s time consuming and riddle with possibility for error. American buttercream is great. It’s butter, sugar, and maybe some flavoring. Whip it up and commence with the sugar high.

Now that I’ve convinced you that these cupcake are amazing and easy, let’s get baking! A couple notes about this recipe:

  1. It makes more than 12 cupcakes. I’m going to give instructions for just 12, since that is the standard muffin tin. You can do anything you’d like with the extra batter. I made two mini cakes in personal sized pie tins. You could add a couple Oreos to the recipe and make probably 4 extra cupcakes when the first 12 are out of the oven. Or you could just eat the extra batter. I don’t judge.
  2. The coffee in the recipe won’t make your cupcakes taste like coffee. Coffee has this incredible ability to boost chocolate flavor. I HIGHLY recommend it, but you can just use water if you are really opposed to coffee.

    Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

    1 1/2 cups flour

    1/2 cup cocoa powder

    1 1/4 cup sugar

    3/4 tsp baking soda

    1/4 tsp baking powder

    1/2 tsp salt

    2 eggs

    1/2 cup vegetable oil

    1 tsp vanilla

    3/4 cup milk

    1/3 cup coffee OR hot water

    26 Oreos

    1/2 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

    1 lb powdered sugar

    1 tsp vanilla

    2 tbsp milk

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
    2. Break up 1 Oreo into each cupcake liner. You could also just toss a whole cookie in there, but I recommend breaking it up. The pieces float to the top and create a beautiful cupcake.
    3. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until blended.
    4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, vanilla, 3/4 cup milk, and coffee.
    5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until just blended.
    6. Using a ladle, spoon the mixture into the cupcake tins. You want each tin about 3/4 full. (You could also transfer the batter into a large measuring cup and pour into the tins…or you could just pour from the mixing bowl if you have a steady hand.)
    7. Bake for 16-18 minutes. You can tell when cupcakes (and cakes, muffins, etc.) are done by lightly tapping your finger to the surface of the cake. If it sinks or indents in, you need to bake longer. If it springs back, it is good to go!
    8. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from pan. Let cool completely, or your frosting will be sad.


    1. Crush 2 Oreos into little crumbs. I did think with a mortar and pestle, because it was fast and easy to wash. You could toss them in a baggy and beat them with a rolling pin or pan. You could put them in a bowl and just use your fingers. Just make sure they’re tiny crumbs.
    2. In a mixing bowl, using either the whisk mixer attachment or your hand mixer, whip up your butter until smooth.
    3. Add powdered sugar. You could add it all at once, but it is actually faster to add it in 3 or 4 additions.
    4. Once all the powdered sugar is incorporated, drizzle 2 tbsp milk in with the mixer running. You want your frosting to be a smooth, malleable texture (but not runny).
    5. Mix in the Oreo crumbs.
    6. Frost your cupcakes! I used a piping bag and a piping tip, but you might not have that lying around. You could load your frosting into a big ziploc bag, cut off the corner, and pipe onto the cupcakes. Or, you could just spoon that delicious fluff onto the cupcakes and call it a day.
    7. Finally, stick an Oreo on top of each cupcake and chow down!

    These cupcakes are shelf-stable for a short period of time. If you are planning to eat and/or share all of them in a day or two, you can just store them (covered) on your counter. If it’s going to take you longer to gobble them up, put them in the refrigerator. If that is your choice, you *might* want to leave the Oreo topper off and add it before eating. The Oreo will get soft in the fridge – which isn’t really a bad thing (it tastes like an ice cream sandwich when it’s soft), but not everyone will like that.

    I hope you enjoy this delicious and easy cupcake!

    Note: My last two entries on this “Real World Healthy” blog are decadent, indulgent recipes. The irony is not lost on me. But, as you may have gathered from my past posts, I’m a BIG supporter in moderation!! So make these cupcakes. Indulge in one or two, and then give the rest to your friends. Or save them and indulge in them over several days. Just remember to balance with good foods and exercise!



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