Cooking in a Crunch: The Small Batch

Imagine you’ve been kicking butt on your diet for the last two months, abstaining from cake, fighting off bacon, and drinking lots of water. When your bestie calls about spending her birthday hanging out with you. You want to offer cake but you don’t want a dozen cupcakes calling your name in the middle of the night. What’s a girl to do?

Make a small batch!

I recently decided to try out a few cooking for one recipes just in case I’m caught in a scenario like this one. Or just in case I just want cake but not a dozen cupcakes. The results were pretty awesome. Plus, if you have a tea party coming up like I do, making mini cupcakes will garner just enough for your guests with very little overage.

In my test batch, I found two different recipes online for both vanilla and chocolate. I was surprised the most by how the two recipes differ but there were a lot of standard expectations. Like of course using coffee/ expresso in a chocolate cake makes it better. But who’s going to brew an entire pot for 3 TBSP? The other difference was the use of oil vs. butter in the recipes. I made a few modifications to the recipes I found and both turned out delicious.

IMG_3900You can see from the picture both recipes actually fit in one single muffin tin, so together they made a dozen and my neighbors and coworkers are thanking me right now. I ran out of liner cups so I improvised with a bit of parchment paper. Which can give your cupcakes an artisanal look. Check out the recipes below for both small batch vanilla and chocolate cupcakes. I even threw in a little frosting to help you ice these baby’s! Enjoy!

Vanilla Small Batch Cupcakes

Makes 5 cupcakes

Chocolate Small Batch Cupcakes

Makes 6 cupcakes
1 large egg

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

⅛ teaspoon salt

¼ cup milk (preferably whole milk)


½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup heaping unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

1 egg

6 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons melted butter

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin cups or place liners in a muffin pan. Set aside.
  • With a stand mixer or hand mixer, combine wet ingredients before combining dry ingredients in one mixing bowl until ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix.
  • Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin cups. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until the tops spring back when you touch them, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.


Vanilla frosting:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons milk, half and half, or cream

  • Beat butter and powdered sugar for several minutes, until smooth. Add vanilla extract and milk, and beat for several more minutes, until light and fluffy. If the frosting seems a little too thick, beat in a splash of milk. If it seems too thin, add another tablespoon of powdered sugar.
  • Frost the cooled cupcakes using a decorating tip or a butter knife. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired.

Do you have any small batch recipe you’d like to share? We would love to hear about it.

Jamila Taylor

World traveler, strategic planner, stylist, and food enthusiast. Jamila loves to travel the world tasting new flavors, and exploring local cultures. When she's not traveling on her magic carpet she's helping small businesses through her boutique consulting firm, Enjoy the Day Consulting. Follow her travels @justjamila

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