These Sunflower Cupcakes will bloom any time of year. Moist chocolate cupcakes are decorated with bright yellow buttercream icing- making these cute, summer cupcakes every bit as delicious as they are adorable. And even better – with a few simple substitutions they can be made 100% vegan too.
Sunflowers have always been my favorite flower. They’re just so cheery and bright! Plus you can eat the seeds, so what’s not to love?
These cute cupcakes are decorated to look like blooming sunflowers, and they’re just perfect for summer celebrations. Pool party? Cookout? I’ve got you covered.
And of course, I’ve gone ahead and made a plant-based version too using some of my favorite easy vegan substitutions. (Be sure to grab the full vegan baking substitution cheat sheet here!)
These sunflower cupcakes are:
- Full of chocolatey goodness. Yummmm.
- Way easier to make than they look – I promise.
- Topped with a decadent buttercream frosting.
- Easy to vegan-ize with a few simple substitutions.
- Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Let’s get baking.
How to Make Sunflower Cupcakes
Making these cute sunflower cupcakes boils down to three steps:
- Make the chocolate cupcakes.
- Make the buttercream frosting.
- Decorate the sunflower cupcakes.
Making the Chocolate Cupcakes
Start off by preparing some simple chocolate cupcakes. This is pretty basic recipe – when it comes to baking, those are usually the best kind.
Mix together all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl – this will be cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Then, slowly add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is well combined.
Next, combine the wet and dry ingredients in an electric mixer on low speed until you achieve a smooth chocolate cupcake batter.
To make a vegan sunflower cupcakes: Substitute flax eggs and dairy-free yogurt. A flax egg is simply 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed whisked together with 3 tbsp of water. It has a consistency that’s very similar to that of traditional eggs and helps to hold the batter together. (For more vegan baking substitution tips, grab this cheat sheet.)
Line a cupcake tin with liners, and fill each 2/3 of the way full, to leave room for the cupcake to rise.
Bake about 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a cooling rack allow the cupcakes to cool completely before decorating.
Make the Buttercream Frosting
While the cupcakes are cooling down, make the buttercream frosting.
This is a good, classic buttercream icing recipe. It’s light, fluffy and creamy, but not overly sweet.
Beat butter, icing sugar and milk on medium speed. Slowly increase the speed to high.
For a vegan version, you can substitute vegan margarine or coconut milk for the butter, and almond milk for the traditional milk.
Once the buttercream has formed light peaks, add the bright yellow gel food coloring. Mix until the frosting is completely tinted.
Can you make buttercream frosting in advance?
You can make buttercream frosting in advance, one or two days early at the most and keep it well covered in the fridge.
The frosting will thicken in the fridge. Make sure to take it out of the fridge one or two hours before using to bring it to room temperature.
Whip lightly with a wire whisk or electric mixer for a few seconds until you get it back to a light and fluffy texture. You can add a few drops of milk to loosen the frosting or a spoonful of icing sugar to thicken it.
How to Decorate Sunflower Cupcakes
Begin piping the petals. Make sure you’re working with the tip sideways- this will ensure you get the right shape for the petals.
Frost out the sunflower petals around the circumference of each cupcake. To do this, squeeze piping bag to form a base and then quickly pull away.
Remember, the tip has to be pointing sideways in order to achieve the gorgeous sunflower leaves.
Follow by adding a second row, just below your first row of petals.
Refrigerate the sunflower cupcakes for 15 minutes to make sure the buttercream is well set. Serve and enjoy!
For more cute, summer-worthy cupcakes, check out these lavender cupcakes or these adorable caramelized white chocolate and strawberry cupcakes.
To make the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract, and whisk until combined.
- Using an electric mixer on low speed, combine the wet and dry ingredients into a smooth batter.
- Pour batter into cupcake liners, filling each 2/3 full.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before decorating.
To Make the Buttercream Frosting:
- Ensure your cupcakes are cool to the touch before decorating.
- Make your buttercream by beating butter, icing sugar and milk on medium speed. Gradually increase to high.
- Once the buttercream has formed, add your gel food coloring and mix until completely tinted.
- To Decorate the Cupcakes:
- Scoop the buttercream into a frosting bag with Wilton tip #35 attached.
- To frost these cupcakes, make sure you’re working with the tip sideways: this will ensure you get the right shape for the petals.
- Frost out petals around the circumference of each cupcake. To do this, squeeze piping bag to form a base and then quickly pull away. Remember, the tip has to be pointing sideways in order to achieve the look.
- Follow by adding a second row, just below your first row of petals.
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes to make sure the buttercream is set. Serve and enjoy!