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Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I know I’m guilty of using a lot of superlatives when I describe the recipes I share here. But these vanilla cupcakes really do take the cake…no pun intended.

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes  |  {Five Heart Home}

I get multiple requests for this recipe every time I make it, and that’s saying a lot seeing as how I make these cupcakes no less than once a month between various birthdays, holidays, and school functions. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that when an event requires a baked good, I am specifically requested to bring Samantha’s cupcakes.

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes | {Five Heart Home}

There is just something so good, and a little bit different, about this recipe. These are not your standard cake-mix texture, light-and-fluffy cupcakes. They don’t rise a great deal and are actually somewhat dense, but not at all in a bad or heavy way. These cupcakes are incredibly moist, and the flavor is somehow more complex than your standard vanilla cupcake.

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes | {Five Heart Home}

If you’re familiar with the wonders of a chocolate Texas Sheet Cake, this cupcake recipe was actually adapted from a version of a white Texas Sheet Cake. So when you bite into one of these beauties, there’s an almost custardy undertone from the eggs and a slight tang from the sour cream, but most importantly, the true flavor of the vanilla shines through.

Best-Ever-Vanilla-Texas-Sheet-Cake-Cupcakes-by-Five-Heart-Home_700pxVert3

Now I try not to be an ingredient snob, but I really believe it’s important to use a high quality, pure vanilla extract in your baking, particularly in a recipe like this one (or sugar cookies, or chocolate chip cookies) where vanilla plays a starring role. There is one brand of vanilla that I think is so superior-tasting that it’s the only type I’ll buy anymore, and that’s Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. You might not be able to find it at your local grocery store, but they carry it at places like Whole Foods or Williams Sonoma. I do a lot of baking, so what I do is order a huge, 32-ounce bottle of it off of Amazon, which lasts me at least six months. It might seem like a lot to spend on vanilla extract at first glance, but if you divide out the cost per ounce, you’ll probably be surprised to find that it’s comparable in price to your average grocery store vanilla…and I promise y’all, it is amazing stuff and really makes a flavor difference when you bake. Okay, I’ll hop off my soapbox now, but rest assured that when I share a list of the favorite secret ingredients in my kitchen/pantry arsenal, this vanilla will be towards the top.

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes | {Five Heart Home}

The other great thing about this recipe is that it’s a one-pot wonder. There’s no mixing dry ingredients in one bowl and creaming butter and sugar in another. Heck, you don’t even have to have the forethought to set out the butter ahead of time for softening. Just melt and mix in a big pot and you’re ready to scoop the batter into cupcake liners and pop your pans in the oven. This recipe honestly doesn’t take much longer to whip up than a boxed mix, and the final result is so much tastier that you may very well never buy a boxed mix again.

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes | {Five Heart Home}

Lest we forget, where there is a cupcake there must be frosting. These cupcakes would be nicely complemented by just about any type of frosting, but in my humble opinion, they are unbeatable topped with cream cheese frosting. You can spread it on with a knife or, as I did with this batch of cupcakes, scoop it into a gallon-sized zipper baggie, snip off the corner of the bag, and pipe it on in a pretty little swirl from the outside perimeter to the center.

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes | {Five Heart Home}

Do keep in mind that this recipe doesn’t quite make two dozen cupcakes. Because they don’t rise a whole lot, you don’t want to skimp on filling your cupcakes liners, and as a result, the batter should yield around 20 cupcakes. I doubled the recipe for my son’s birthday party this past weekend and ended up with exactly 40 cupcakes. Since the amount of frosting made with this recipe is enough to generously frost about two dozen cupcakes, you may have a bit of frosting left over (oh, darn!)…and if so, you have my permission to eat it with a spoon.

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes | {Five Heart Home}

So what are you waiting for? Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, a holiday, the last day of summer vacation, or the second Tuesday in September, these cupcakes deserve a permanent spot in your recipe collection. Try them once and I think you’ll agree!

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: about 20 cupcakes

Best Ever Vanilla Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These are not your ordinary vanilla cupcakes but they just might become your new favorite, and cream cheese frosting puts them over the top!

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar, depending on your desired consistency & sweetness of frosting
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line cupcake pans with 20 cupcake liners.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter. Add water and bring to a boil. Remove pot from heat and briskly stir in flour, sugar, and sour cream. Batter should now be cool enough to gradually stir in the eggs without them scrambling. Mix in vanilla, baking soda, and salt until all ingredients are well blended.
  3. Scoop batter into cupcake liners. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack and allowing to cool completely before frosting.
  4. For the frosting:
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese. Slowly blend in powdered sugar and vanilla, then beat until smooth and well-combined.

Tips, Tricks, & Variations

Start checking your cupcakes for doneness at the 16 minute mark. You don't want to overbake them or they'll start to become dry, but you do want the toothpick tester to come out clean.

Make sure that your butter and cream cheese are completely at room temperature before making your frosting or it will have little lumps. You shouldn't need to sift your powdered sugar. I never do and my frosting always turns out smooth, but if your powdered sugar is especially clumpy, it might not hurt to sift it first.

These cupcakes are so moist that you can get away with baking them early, if necessary. When I make them for a birthday party, I usually bake them two days ahead of time and pop them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. The day before the party, I frost them and put them back in the fridge. Then I set them out on party day and they have time to come to room temperature before everyone eats them. But don't get me wrong...they taste great cold, straight out of the fridge, too!

http://fivehearthome.com/2013/08/05/best-ever-vanilla-texas-sheet-cake-cupcakes-with-cream-cheese-frosting/

Adapted from AllRecipes.

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I always love hearing from you! ~ samantha {at} five heart home {dot} com

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Comments

  1. Hi Samatha!

    Yes, just the basic ingredients alone . . . butter and sour cream (INSTEAD of OIL!) and high-quality vanilla . . . will yield a moist and flavorful cake.
    I look forward to trying your recipe!
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Have a great week,
    Suzanne

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You’re welcome, Suzanne! Thanks for the comment…and I totally agree that everything’s better with butter. :) I hope you enjoy these!

  2. These look delicious! I love how they come together so easily.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      They really are quick and easy, Melanie, which is a big part of the reason this is my go-to cupcake recipe! Well, that and the taste. :) Thanks for the comment!

  3. Kalli Skaggs says:

    Awesome. I’m hosting a baby shower next weekend, and this is exactly what I need. I’ll let you know how it goes! :)

  4. These sound delicious! I’m always looking for a great vanilla recipe! I’ll have to try this!

  5. Love the look of those stunning vanilla cupcakes! :) This is my second Texas sheet cake recipe of the day! :) Loving the nostalgic posts about Texas sheet cake! I followed you here from the Chef in Training link party! Also, I’d like to invite you to come link up with me at Tasty Tuesdays.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much, Anyonita! I agree that you can’t beat a good ole’ Texas sheet cake. ;) And thanks for the invitation to your party…I’ll definitely check it out!

  6. Ooh these look sooooo good! Pinned! Thanks for the tip on the vanilla, too! I had been using vanilla I had purchased when we were in Mexico, but I just ran out and was wondering what I’d replace it with. Now I know! Have a great weekend, Samantha!

    ~Abby =)

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I really like Mexican vanilla, too! Nielsen Massey actually makes a Mexican vanilla and a Tahitian vanilla as well. Seeing as how I love, love, love their Madagascar Bourbon vanilla so much, I need to try those other varieties at some point and see how they compare…

  7. These look SO delicious! I’m always looking for a better vanilla cupcake recipe. I’m looking forward to trying them. And I wanted to let you know that you were featured at Give Me the Goods. Congratulations!

    Rachel

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thank you so much for the feature, Rachel…I really appreciate it! And I hope you enjoy the cupcakes when you try them. Have a great week! :)

  8. Hi! We are celebrating my baby girl’s 2nd birthday this coming weekend. Could this recipe make a nice cake pop? What do you think? It seems truly delicious!!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Claudie! I haven’t tried this recipe as a cake pop, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work. Since this recipe originally derives from a cake made in a 10″x15″x1″ sheet pan (and not a 9″x13″ pan), you may have to slightly adjust the ratio of frosting used in your cake balls to get the right consistency. And since Texas Sheet Cakes aren’t as light and fluffy as standard cakes, I just wouldn’t make my cake balls too big/heavy (so they don’t fall off the stick), and I’d be sure to let them firm up in the refrigerator for a good while after you form them into balls/before dipping.

      If you end up trying this recipe as cake balls, will you let me know how they turn out? Have fun with your party planning and I hope your little girl has a very happy 2nd birthday!

      • I made them! BUT… I am actually making a 3D owl and wanted a knobbly look for the wings. In comes my silicone cake pop pan (making those pops many consider as cheat cake pops) and your recipe. So I did not make the (more delicious) rolled version. To make things even more interesting, I am highly allergic to wheat. I made them using rye, corn and almond flour. They came out super tasty and moist ( big problems with wheat free). Somewhat doughy, but slightly less almond flour will rectify that. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

        • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

          Wow, Claudie…I’m really glad they turned out, even with your modifications! Thanks so much for coming back and letting me know. Your owl cake sounds adorable…I’m sure your daughter’s party is going to be a hit! :) Have a great time!

  9. Samantha, have you tried this in a 12″ round pan. I am making a cake this weekend and would love to use this recipe. Thanks, Kathy

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Kathy! I have not made this recipe in round pans, but I’m sure it could be done. However, because this cupcake recipe is adapted from a Texas sheet cake recipe, the resulting cake is meant to come out pretty thin and flat without much rise. So if I were to bake it in round pans, I would probably divide the batter between three pans instead of two. I’m sure two pans would work, too, but I think the cake would just be a bit denser at that thickness.

      I’m not sure about baking time…just watch it carefully and make sure the center is a little risen and try the toothpick test. You don’t want to overcook it, but if it’s not cooked through, the center will sink when it’s out of the oven. Good luck and please come back and let me know how round pans work out!

  10. Hi there,
    This recipe sounds and looks amazing! Do you recommend salted or unsalted butter?
    Thanks,
    Kristina

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Kristina! I use unsalted butter in this recipe and in most other baked goods. I prefer to use unsalted butter and then add the salt separately so that I can control the amount, since different brands of salted butter contain different amounts of salt. If you use salted butter, that’s okay, too…but then I would cut back on the amount of salt added to the batter. Hope that helps! :)

  11. Hi! I am thinking about making these cupcakes for my husband’s birthday. I know you said that they don’t rise much, so I was wondering about how much batter you fill your liners with? More than 2/3 of the way full? Thanks!!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Randi! These cupcakes do rise a bit, but they don’t end up being really tall, domed cupcakes (though they do get some extra height when you frost them!). I use a #20 (3 tablespoon) cookie scoop to fill my cupcake liners. If there’s any leftover batter after I fill 20 liners, I just divide it between the already-filled liners. I would say that by the time I’m done, the liners are probably about 3/4 full? I’ve found that if I try to stretch the batter between 24 cupcake liners, the cupcakes end up too short. I’ve also divided the batter between just 18 liners, and the cupcakes end up a little taller, but they may need an extra minute or two of baking time. If these cupcakes are underdone, they will sink a bit in the middle as they cool (but they still taste great and it’s nothing that can’t be disguised by frosting!).

      Hope this helps! Happy birthday to your husband…I’m sure he’ll enjoy his cupcakes!

      • Thank you so much for the quick and helpful response…and the tasty cupcake recipe! Hope you and your family have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!

        • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

          Happy to help! I hope the cupcakes turn out perfectly for you, and that y’all have a great Labor Day weekend, too!

  12. Hi there,

    Thank you for the recipe – it looks yummy, yet simple (perfect, in other words). I am going to try it gluten-free with Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix and use coconut oil in place of butter (I love butter, but have loved how coconut oil works in baking). I will let you know how they turn out. :o)

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      That sounds great, Stacey, and I really appreciate that you’re going to come back and let me know how the cupcakes turn out with your modifications! I sub coconut oil for butter all the time in my recipes, but I haven’t yet tried doing so with these cupcakes. I see no reason why it shouldn’t work perfectly, and I bet the coconutty undertone is yummy! I’m not experienced with using gluten-free baking mix but I’m sure that other readers who bake gluten-free will find your results helpful. Thanks so much and good luck!

  13. OK. Tried the recipe with a gluten-free flour blend and coconut oil. It produces probably the most delicious vanilla cake I have ever tried. BUT, the cupcakes all collapsed and completely fell apart as I tried to remove them from the muffin tins. So, plan B! I have scraped the delicious mess into a bowl and will make cake pops. My birthday girl will love them! Thank you again. :o)

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Darn, Stacey! I’m sorry to hear they fell apart…but aren’t you clever for salvaging them anyway! I wonder if it was the coconut oil or the gluten-free flour blend to blame, or a combo of the two? I may have to try these cupcakes with coconut oil and regular flour sometime to see what happens…and if I do, I’ll come back and report my findings as a reply to this comment. Thanks so much for coming back and sharing your results. Happy birthday to your daughter!

  14. Thank you very much – she had a great day! The cake pops were a big hit! I think I know the problem. The gluten-free flour blend I used already has baking powder/soda, so I think adding the teaspoon of baking soda, per the recipe, caused them to explode. I will try the recipe again, but modify to account for the baking powder/soda. :)

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Glad to hear your daughter had a great birthday! And that makes total sense about the extra leavening! Hope it works out better next time without it… :)

  15. I just made these cupcakes and they are delicious! They are so moist on the inside and taste great. My daughters absolutely loved them! Thanks for sharing.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I am SO happy to hear that, Hannah…I really appreciate you coming back and letting me know! Hope your family enjoys them many more times in the future… :)

  16. Just polished off my second cupcake from today’s kitchen efforts. I am in serious danger of losing my self control and going for a third. These came out perfectly and are the best Vanilla cupcake I have found. Big thumbs up Samantha from me in New Zealand.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I really appreciate your kind words, Kate! I’m so happy you love these cupcakes and that they’re living up to their “Best Ever” monikor! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know… :)

  17. Samantha, these are just breath-taking. I just finished making a regular (chocolate) Texas Sheet Cake, and now I want your vanilla cake!! I love to bake with sour cream, and cream cheese in the frosting sounds divine.

    Love, Joy
    Yesterfood.blogspot.com

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You are so sweet, Joy. Sour cream does great things for baked goods, doesn’t it?! I love regular Texas Sheet Cake as well, which is why I was so excited to discover a vanilla version (and I think I might just like it even better than the traditional chocolate variety)! Thanks so much for your comment…hope you have a great week!

  18. Hi I was just in Home Goods and saw Nielsen Massey pure vanilla bean paste and Tahitian Gold pure vanilla extract bourbon premium. So I bought them both! Which do I want to use for the cupcakes? Thanks!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Deb! Wow, they both sound delicious, and I think that both would work. I believe that vanilla bean paste is a bit stronger than vanilla extract, so if you use that, maybe start with half of the original amount called for. The Tahitian vanilla extract should be fine to use at the regular amount. If it were me, I would just smell the two and try whichever one I thought had the more appealing scent! Then the next time I baked the cupcakes, I would try the other one. :) Good luck and have fun experimenting!

  19. H Samantha!
    I would love to make these cupcakes of yours, but I’m unsure about how they will do at high altitude… we are nearly a mile high here… any ideas? Thanks so much! :)

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Oh goodness, Marie…I’m afraid I have zero experience with high altitude baking! So I can’t offer any advice, but I did find what looks to be a good resource on the topic: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe/high-altitude-baking.html . Maybe it will help you at least a little bit?

      I hope you figure out a way to make this recipe work for you at high altitude, and if you do, I would love for you to come back and share your results for anyone else who has the same question! :) Good luck! Hope you have a great day.

  20. Hi Samantha, I was looking for a recipe for my daughter’s 1 year birthday when I found yours. I was planning a raspberry filling. Do you think your recipe would work with a filling? Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi, Kristen…great question! I think that the flavor of these cupcakes would be great with raspberry filling. As far as filling them, are you planning on sticking a piping bag in the center of the cupcakes and filling them that way? I think that would work just fine, as long as the cupcakes are at room temperature. Like I mentioned in the post, these aren’t really light, fluffy cupcakes…they have a denser texture, but without being heavy. That being said, they can be somewhat firm/solid when you refrigerate them, and I’m not sure if they might offer too much resistance to having filling piped into the center if they were cold.

      So to summarize my rambling answer… ;) I’ve never filled these, but I think it would work fine. And if you ran into any issues, you could always scoop a little divot in the top, squeeze in some filling, and then frost over the top!

      Hope this helps! Happy birthday to your baby girl! My daughter just turned 1, too… :)

      • Thanks for the advice. (I need all the help I can get!) So, can I make the cupcakes the day before and icing them the day of? If I can make them ahead, do I just cover them or put them in fridge or…? Or, can I completely make them the day before? (I’m sorry if you already answered these questions)

        • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

          No problem, Kristen! I think you can make the complete cupcakes the day before if you’d like to. Bake the cupcakes, and once they’re cool, fill them and frost them. Then put them in a container in the refrigerator overnight. (I have some big “Rubbermaid TakeAlongs” brand plastic containers that hold a dozen or so cupcakes each, so I usually fill a couple of those with my cupcakes and stack them in the fridge.) An hour or so before your party, take the cupcakes out of the fridge so that they can come to room temperature before serving (although they’re tasty cold, too!).

          If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Good luck!

        • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

          Just wanted to clarify, Kristen…you don’t have to bake, fill, and frost all on the same day. It is perfectly fine to bake the cupcakes one day and fill and frost them a day or two later!

          If you do this, I would refrigerate the cupcakes after they cool (refrigerating them will keep them fresher leading up to your party), then let them come to room temperature before filling and frosting. After they are all done, pop them back in the refrigerator, then take them out an hour or so before serving to come to room temperature. They should be perfect!

          I’m not trying to confuse you…it just occurred to me that you might want to do the different steps on different days, and I didn’t want to mislead you with my last comment by making you think that the cupcakes had to be completed all on the same day.

          Have a great night! :)

        • I ended up doing everything the day of, and they turned out great. Everyone enjoyed them. Thanks for the recipe and the advice. :-)

          • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

            I’m so glad to hear that the cupcakes turned out well and were a hit, Kristen…I really appreciate you coming back to let me know! Now put up your feet after all of that party planning… ;) Hope you have a great week!

  21. Wendy Wynn says:

    Have you ever tried making your own vanilla extract? OMG it is so amazing… Here’s what you do:
    Go buy a small bottle of vodka and make yourself one drink so that there is room in the bottle. As you use those expensive vanilla beans – after you scrape the seeds for your recipes stuff the bean pods in the vodka bottle. It takes a while for it to come to the rich brown color – maybe a month or two depending on how often you use vanilla beans. You can refill the vodka over and over. I love this because it is so cheap and gives me a way to get my moneys worth out of those expensive beans. I call this my eye roll ingredient, because whenever I use it baking something I typically will almost always get an eye roll when someone takes that first bite because it is so yummy, good vanilla extract really does make the difference!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much for the tips, Wendy! I’ve never tried making my own vanilla but I’ve always wanted to. I’ll have to come back and reference your directions when I’m ready…thanks again! ;)

  22. We searched hundreds of vanilla cupcake recipes and decided to try these. They are AWESOME!! So super moist and yummy. We would add even more vanilla. Totally taste made from scratch. Thank you!!!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Yay, Emily! It makes me so happy to hear that! And I have to agree with you…I don’t call them “Best Ever” cupcakes for nothing. ;) I’m just curious…did you end up making them with the Nielsen Massey vanilla? Because if you think these cupcakes already taste great with regular vanilla, the NM puts them over the top, in my humble opinion. :) Thanks so much for stopping by to let me know that they were a hit!

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