These sugar plum fairy cupcakes are made with a vanilla sponge that’s lightly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest. They’re baked with a plum topping and frosted with white chocolate buttercream.
Ok, I’m just going to be honest, I think this was the first time I tried a plum lol. It’s a very subtle flavor but still very good. I saw the nutcracker movie on Disney Plus and was inspired to create a cupcake but it’s really all in the decorations!
I thought the sugar plum fairies hair was so cool but there’s also the Kingdom of Sweets and of course her name is Sugar Plum. So I made a plum topped lightly spiced cupcake with a pink and purple dusted frosting and topped with all the sweets!
Why I love these sugar plum fairy cupcakes
- The flavors are unique but still feel festive and they pair so well together, I’m actually quite impressed with myself here lol.
- The cupcakes feel so light and the plum topping is light too.
- Recipe is versatile – can be made with dairy free and gluten-free ingredients.
- You can get creative and decorate however you want!
If you’re loving my sugar plum fairy cupcakes, I think you’ll like my orange cranberry cupcakes as well! The recipe was adapted from my vanilla cupcake recipe so you’ll love that as well.
For more festive cupcakes, I have hot chocolate cupcakes, gingerbread cupcakes with toasted marshmallow frosting, eggnog cupcakes with spiced rum caramel and chocolate peppermint cupcakes. I also have a Christmas cupcake decorating tutorial.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Butter: I prefer salted butter here but you can also use unsalted butter. Make sure it’s softened to room temperature so it creams well with the dry ingredients.
- I use unsalted butter in the frosting or half salted, half unsalted.
- Flour: I use all purpose flour in most of my recipes BUT you cannot beat the texture of cake flour in cupcakes so I highly recommend King Arthur’s Cake Flour. It is far superior to some alternatives in the grocery stores.
- I have used the “homemade cake flour” trick by replacing 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with cornstarch. The cupcakes will work if you make them this way but they won’t be quite as soft and tender.
- I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured.
- Baking Powder: to leaven the cupcakes.
- Sugar: I used granulated sugar and I don’t recommend cutting any out.
- Oil: I always use a combination of butter and oil in my cakes because I like the texture from both. I recommend a neutral oil like vegetable oil, canola oil or sunflower oil here.
- Eggs: I just use one large egg and make sure it’s at room temperature. Place it in hot water for 5-10 minutes if it’s cold.
- The meringue will require two additional egg whites so you’ll be left with two egg yolks (which I have plenty of recipe recommendations for down in the FAQ section).
- Sour Cream: I’ve used greek yogurt and sour cream in this recipe and they both work well. You can also use plain yogurt. However, if you sub the sour cream for extra milk, the cupcakes might shrivel up a little when cooling.
- Milk: I use whole milk or two percent but any milk will work here, even dairy free.
- Vanilla: I just use vanilla extract in this recipe but vanilla bean paste also works.
- Lemon: I flavored the cupcake with lemon by rubbing the sugar with the zest of 1 lemon. It gave it the most incredible flavor that’s very present but not overpowering.
- Spices: I used just a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg for a little christmas spice.
- White Chocolate: I just thought white chocolate was a little more festive than vanilla and it paired INCREDIBLE with the plums.
Step 1: Melt the butter in a small saucepan, over medium heat.
Step 2: Add the lemon juice, sugar and chopped plums and stir together over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until the plums start to soften.
Step 3: Remove a couple of tablespoons of juice from the mixture and place it in a bowl with the cornstarch. Whisk those together until they’re smooth and then add to the pot.
Step 4: Stir over medium-low heat for like a minute or so, until it thickens. Remove from heat and pour into a heat safe jar.
Step 1: Zest the lemon on top of the sugar and use your fingers to rub them together well, until they’re well combined.
Step 2: Whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder and salt until they’re evenly distributed.
Step 3: Add the room temperature butter and the oil and use an electric mixer to beat them at medium, until they’re crumbly like a streusel.
Step 4: Add the egg and mix just until it’s well combined and the batter looks like paste.
Step 5: Add the sour cream and turn the mixer to low speed while streaming in the milk.
Step 6: Scrape the edge of the bowl and give it a good mix. Fill the cupcake liners about ⅔-¾ full. I recommend weighing them so each cupcake has 40-45 grams of batter. This should be enough for 15 cupcakes.
Step 7: Place about 20-25 grams of plum topping on top of each cupcake. There should be just enough for the 15 cupcakes.
Step 8: Bake for 20ish minutes, until the tallest part of the cupcake, in the center, springs back when you press on it. If you’re hesitant, give it another minute or so.
Step 9: Let the cupcakes rest for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove them from the pan.
White Chocolate Buttercream
Step 1: Place a cup of water in a small pot on the stove, over medium-low heat. Allow the water to come to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Step 2: Meanwhile, clean your mixing bowl, whisk attachment and all other tools well and wipe them down with a little vinegar to make sure there’s no grease residue.
Step 3: Combine the sugar with the egg whites in your mixer bowl and place the mixer bowl on top of the simmering pot of water. Whisk the egg and sugar mixture frequently, until the sugar is fully dissolved – just touch it with your finger and feel for sugar granules.
Step 4: Meanwhile melt your white chocolate in the microwave on 10-15 second intervals, just until it’s smooth and silky. Set aside to cool but stir it often so it doesn’t harden around the edge.
Step 5: Once the sugar is dissolved, move the bowl to the mixer and beat at full speed for 5-10 minutes, until it’s thick and fluffy and no longer hot.
Step 6: With the mixer on medium speed, add in your room temperature butter, a few tablespoons at a time. It may not come together right away so just turn the mixer up to full speed for a few minutes and give it some time.
Step 7: Add half of the white chocolate and fold it in with a rubber spatula (I don’t like to mix with the whisk attachment because the white chocolate will solidify if it touches anything cold and you may get random chunks of white chocolate. Repeat with the other half once the first half is combined.
Step 8: Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and decorate with gingerbread men, peppermint candies, gum drops, marshmallows, powdered sugar, purple and pink luster dust, etc.
How to decorate Sugar Plum Fairy Cupcakes
Decorating cupcakes is entirely up to you and your chance to be creative! I wanted to dye my cupcakes pink and purple but then I found a pink and purple luster dust from my mom and figured that might be cool and unique.
I’m not the biggest fan of food coloring, I’m just generally not a color kind of person and to be honest, I personally don’t find it appetizing so I usually don’t have much color on my cakes or cupcakes lol. However, I had to add some color here. After all, my whole idea came from a pink and purple fairy.
I would’ve loved to decorate them with a pastel candies but I really couldn’t find any! So I went with basics like peppermint candies, mini candy canes, gum drops (I found ornament shape sour patch kids instead).
I also added some gingbread men, truffles that I painted gold and mini marshmallows and dehydrated marshmallows to fill them up a little more without so much color. Then to mute my bright colors a little I dusted them all with powdered sugar. I like this one that doesn’t melt but it is obnoxiously expensive nowadays (not sure why, it wasn’t when I got it?).
I also topped with my favorite muted rainbow sprinkles and of course the pink and purple luster dust.
I have way too many sprinkles at home so I didn’t want to buy more but I did fine some other great options. Including actual fairy toppers.
Expert tips on getting perfect cupcakes
There’s a few things that can make it or break it with these cupcakes.
- Don’t swap ingredients unless I mentioned them in the ingredient section above.
- Don’t reduce the sugar. I know a lot of people do that for some recipes but not this one.
- Weigh your ingredients with a digital scale
- Weigh the batter for each cupcake with a digital scale. I just place the cupcake pan on the scale with the liners and measure out 40-45 grams for each cupcake. You should get 15 cupcakes out of that and enough plum topping to top each one with 20-25 grams.
- Use a light colored stainless steel muffin tin for more uniform baking.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have used the “homemade cake flour” trick by replacing 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with cornstarch. The cupcakes will work if you make them this way but they won’t be quite as soft and tender.
I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured.
This cake holds on to moisture really well so you can make it 1-2 days in advance before serving and store in the fridge. Or you could make it well in advance and freeze. See the storing section.
If you only have one muffin pan, the batter for the last 3 cupcakes can just wait on the counter until the first 12 are done baking.
Just like all the rest of my cakes, I test if it’s done baking by pressing gently on the tallest part of the cake. The cake will spring back if it’s done baking. If it stays indented, give it a few minutes in the oven, before testing again.
I have not tested this cupcake recipe as a cake recipe but I would worry about placing the plum topping on top of the batter. I don’t know how it would bake, there is a chance it would sink in the center and not bake completely.
How to store these sugar plum fairy cupcakes
I usually just cover them with a cake dome or place them in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for 1-2 days. You can store them in the refrigerator for an additional 2-3 days but if it’s any longer, I recommend freezing them.
To freeze the cupcakes, place them in an airtight container and then place the container in a freezer bag, squeezing out all the excess air. Bring them back to room temperature by thawing at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below.
If you make these sugar plum fairy cupcakes, I’d love it if you left me a review or a star rating. 🙂
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Sugar Plum Fairy Cupcakes
- 1-2 Muffin Pan
- 1 medium pot
- 2 Tbsp (28g) salted butter
- 10 oz (3-4) plums diced
- 3 Tbsp (45mL) lemon juice 1 medium lemon – make sure to zest it first for the cupcake batter.
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp (10g) cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup (172g) cake flour spooned and leveled
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- zest of 1 medium lemon
- 1/4 cup (60mL) canola oil
- 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 large egg room temperature (or 2 large egg whites if you want whiter cupcakes)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup (113g) sour cream
- 1/3 cup (80mL) whole milk room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 4 large (120g) egg whites room temperature
- 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter room temperature (if it doesn't come together after whipping at high speed, add another 1/4 cup (56g)).
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- tiny pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 cup (6oz/225g) white chocolate chips
Toppings (see blog post for many decorating options)
- small gingerbread men or truffles
- gum drops or sour patch kids
- round peppermint candies and or candy canes
- gel food coloring and or luster dust
- Remove the pit from the plums and dice them. No need to remove the skin.10 oz (3-4) plums
- Zest the lemon into a separate bowl to use for the cupcake batter before cutting to use juice.zest of 1 medium lemon
- Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat just until it's melted.2 Tbsp (28g) salted butter
- Add the plums, sugar and lemon juice and stir over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes, just until the plums start to get tender.3 Tbsp (45mL) lemon juice, 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- Remove a couple of tablespoons of the juice into a separate bowl and whisk it with the cornstarch to create a slurry.1 Tbsp (10g) cornstarch
- Add the slurry to the pot and stir continuously for another 1-2 minutes, until it thickens.
- Once it's thickened, pour the plum mixture into a bowl and stir in the vanilla. Set aside until the cupcake batter is done.1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350F/177C convection (325F/163C conventional) and line 13 muffin tins with cupcake liners (preferably a light colored pan).
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, use your fingers to rub the lemon zest with the sugar together to release the lemon flavor into the sugar.zest of 1 medium lemon, 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- Add the cake flour, baking powder, spices and salt and whisk together until they're evenly distributed (whisk well).1 1/2 cup (172g) cake flour, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- Add the oil and butter to the dry ingredients and beat together until they're combined.1/4 cup (60mL) canola oil, 1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and paste and mix until they're fully combined.1 large egg, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Add the sour cream and turn the mixer to low speed, while streaming the milk in. Scrape the edge of the bowl and mix just until the cupcake batter is smooth.1/2 cup (113g) sour cream, 1/3 cup (80mL) whole milk
- Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3-3/4 full, about 40-45 grams of batter per cupcake. You should have enough for 15 cupcakes. Place 20-25 grams of plum topping on top of each cupcake; there should be just enough for all of them.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes. They are done when you press on the center of the cupcake and it springs back or when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove them from the oven and let them cool in the cupcake pan for 10 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
White Chocolate Buttercream
- Bring a small pot with 1/2 cup of water to a boil and lower the heat to simmer.1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- Meanwhile, clean your mixing bowl, whisk attachment and all other tools well and wipe them down with a little vinegar to make sure there’s no grease residue.
- Place the egg whites and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place the bowl over the simmering water for 5-10 minutes, whisking intermittently until the granulated sugar is completely dissolved.4 large (120g) egg whites
- Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the bowl of egg whites from the heat. Use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites with the sugar. Beat for 7-10 minutes on high speed and then lower the speed to low-medium.
- Slowly add 2 Tbsp of butter in at a time. Wait for the butter to incorporate before adding the next chunk. Once all the butter is added, turn the mixer up to high speed for a few seconds, until it comes together.1 tsp vanilla extract, tiny pinch of fine sea salt
- Meanwhile, melt your white chocolate. I do 15-20 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each interval until it’s melted. Allow it to cool slightly (not enough to re-harden).1 cup (6oz/225g) white chocolate chips
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the edge of the bowl of buttercream, add the vanilla bean paste (or extract), the melted white chocolate and the salt and beat until it's fully combined. (DON’T stream in the white chocolate while the mixer is running or you’ll cool the melted chocolate as your adding it and you’ll get little hardened bits of white chocolate chunks throughout the buttercream).
- Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and decorate with desired toppings. I like to do a mixture of candies, cookies and sprinkles. I also top it with powdered sugar so they look frosted and a little luster dust.small gingerbread men or truffles, gum drops or sour patch kids, round peppermint candies and or candy canes, gel food coloring and or luster dust, sprinkles