Okay. You are my friends, so I'll share my secret about cupcakes. Or regular cake for that matter.
It's all about the frosting.
When it comes to the cake, I frequently use mixes. Not only do I think they're okay, in some cases, I think they're superior. Better texture.
Frosting, however, is a different story. The stuff in a can -- bleaugh. Too sweet, no real flavor, cloying texture.
And homemade frosting is easy. I'm not even talking about cooked buttercreams (which are, I'll tell you, completely divine) of the Italian or French persuasion. Plain old powdered sugar mixed with butter is a million steps ahead of the stuff in a can.
And here's my secret tip ... flavor your frosting with ... wait for it ... candy flavoring.
Candy flavoring is intense, lots of different flavors, and made to withstand the abuse candymakers put it to.
Watermelon frosting? Tangerine? Mmm.
I have drawn so many raves for Butter Rum frosting. Simple white cake, with a powdered sugar frosting, with butter rum candy flavoring.
So there you go. My tip to you. We'll keep it our little secret.