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Ghirardelli Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

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These dreamy Ghirardelli Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting became a family favorite since the first day I baked them! The decadent swirl of Swiss Meringue icing is hard to beat!

Ghirardelli Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream on a white ceramic tray

Ghirardelli Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

It was Bill’s birthday earlier this month. Despite my intent to freeze my age at 29, Bill will not let a birthday or anniversary go by without a celebration.  So we made the best of it, and, of course, the birthday boy got to pick dessert. This year, these Ghirardelli Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream were his selection. It’s the Swiss meringue buttercream that won him over nearly a decade ago. These are truly the Best Vanilla Cupcakes!

Sugar and egg whites were whisked over a double boiler, then beat till the mixture reached room temperature before melted white chocolate and loads of butter was whisked in. The recipe originated from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook, a souvenir from a family vacation in San Francisco. As I was flipping through the cookbook in Ghirardelli Square, I was encouraged by surrounding chocoholics to make the purchase.

Ghirardelli Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream on a round white plate with white chocolate chips

Perfect Cupcakes for White Chocolate Lovers

I probably make cupcakes less than 6 times a year. So when I do, they are devoured quickly. I’m more of a cookie eater, but the family adores these mini-cakes piled with fluffy frosting. And I must admit, I do lick the frosting bowl clean. It is one exquisite treat.  Since the child who is quite ho-hum about white chocolate happened to be away at college, there was nary a gripe about these babies. And I didn’t miss my post-dinner cookie one bit. Share these Ghirardelli Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream with the white chocolate lovers in your life! They’ll give them rave reviews, I promise!!

Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream on a rectangular ceramic tray

Tips for Making Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes

Like with cakes, there are typical tips to make the best cupcakes. Reading through the recipe directions a couple of times before starting always helps, especially with recipes incorporating unfamiliar techniques, is always recommended.

  • Ingredients like eggs and butter should be at room temperature most times. In this case, the egg whites will be heated, so they do not need to be at room temp, but the whole eggs should.
  • To hurry the eggs along, set them in a bowl of hot, not boiling, water for about 15 minutes.
  • Use quality ingredients. No imitation vanilla or margarine instead of butter.
  • Use cupcake liners so your cupcakes don’t stick. I like to drop the cupcake into a second liner to serve, especially if you have a pretty or festive one that fits the occasion.
  • PRO-Tip: Alternate adding your dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. This helps interfere with gluten formation by coating the first batch of flour with fat. Less gluten means more tender cupcakes! Always start and end with your dry ingredients as stated in the recipe.
  • Do not over mix the batter. Again, you don’t want to encourage gluten formation. Once the dry ingredients are mixed in, the batter is ready to scoop into your cupcake pans.
  • PRO-Tip: Use a  1/4 cup scoop to divvy up the batter. This will help keep your cupcakes a consistent size.
  • Do not over bake or your cupcakes will be dry. Insert a toothpick into the middle of your cupcake. If there is no batter or just a couple moist crumbs when you remove it, your cupcakes are done.

More Cake Recipes You’ll Love

My family loves cupcakes, especially Ghirardelli White Cupcakes! If cake is your preferred dessert, you must check out:

Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream on a square white dish

The Recipe: Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Dreamy cupcakes for white chocolate lovers!

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 3 minutes
Yield 14



  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed till light. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl between additions. Mix together milk, lemon and vanilla. Add half this mixture to the batter. Mix until just blended, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary. Add half the dry ingredients and mix in well, followed by the remaining milk mixture, then the rest of the flour. Scrape down sides of bowl between additions.
  4. Divide batter into 14 or so spots in the muffin tins. Bake in the middle of the oven about 15 minutes (mine took 23 minutes) or till tester inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then remove to rack to finish cooling.
  5. Melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, gently in the microwave…use 15-30 second intervals, stirring till melted. Cool to room temperature.
  6. Combine the egg whites and sugar in bowl of mixer. Place bowl over pot of simmering water so that the water comes a third of the way up the bowl. Whisk the egg whites till just hot to the touch, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Use mixer on high to whip the eggs till thick and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Turn mixer speed to medium and add butter by tablespoon, making sure butter is mixed in before adding the next tablespoon. Add the chocolate and vanilla and mix till smooth. If the icing is too runny, refrigerate briefly till it thickens. Ice the cup cakes with the frosting and sprinkle with white chocolate chips.


Recipe adapted from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook

I did not use all the frosting, so actual calories may be less.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cupcake

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 372Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 218mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 0gSugar: 38gProtein: 5g


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72 comments on “Ghirardelli Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream”

  1. These look wonderful! Planning to make these for my husband birthday. Few questions though. The flour you used, is just all-purpose or cake flour? For sugar, is it confectioner or regular sugar? Last, for butter, is it unsalted or salted? I’m not an expert and I just want to make sure since there are so many different types. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  2. These are so perfect! My kids really loved them!

  3. Made these for Easter and they were a huge hit!

  4. I adore white chocolate, and these cupcakes really hit the spot! Would make again!

  5. I love the white chocolate buttercream! It’s a great addition to classic vanilla cupcakes.

  6. These are truly the best vanilla cupcakes, they are so soft and sweet!

  7. I have to make these! I could eat 2 or 3 of these right now. 

  8. So dreamy and delicious! Your Swiss Meringue icing is amazing! This was dessert perfection!! 

  9. These are now my go-to cupcake recipe! I love that buttercream!

  10. The lovely white looks perfect for this coming Valentine’s Day! xoxo

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