Calling all cotton candy lovers! These whimsical Cotton Candy Cupcakes are the quintessential party dessert that will win hearts over and over again. It wouldn’t be a summer party without this childhood candy treat.
This past week, I’ve seen an incredible amount of Christmas and Halloween recipes. TV shows are also getting in on the mix. I can’t remember Christmas in July being such an occasion but nonetheless, readers are flocking to Christmas and Halloween recipes on Swanky Recipes all while I’ve been low key screaming that summer can’t be over yet!
While I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer and welcome autumn into the mix just yet, I wanted to celebrate the last month of summer with a carnival flavor everyone will love!
Guys, these cupcakes are loaded with cotton candy flavor. It’s in the yellow cupcake, frosting, and it serves as a candy topper. I won’t lie, I probably ate 5 of these the first day! I never knew I loved cotton candy as much as I have enjoyed it as an adult. It brings back all these memories of eating this sugary treat at the county fair and summer festivals while riding the ferris wheel and petting cows.
Cotton candy isn’t meant just for festivals because these cupcakes are too cute to pass up for a colorful blue and pink baby shower, wedding reception, graduation party, birthday parties, and spring and summer holidays.
Looking for an easy alternative?
Looking to make these pretty Cotton Candy Cupcakes but don’t have the time or all of the ingredients?
Use store-bought yellow or white cake mix. Add cotton candy flavoring to the batter then bake in the oven according to package directions. Top with store-bought frosting or use this frosting recipe below with cotton candy flavoring.
Frost cupcakes with icing tip or use a Russian Ball Tip like I’ve featured in this cake recipe. Make the cotton candy sticks and stick it through the center of the cupcakes.
If these cupcakes are going to be served the next day, hold off on creating the cotton candy sticks. Humidity is naturally going to cause the spun sugar to go flat. Of course, you can also purchase those little plastic candy bags and tie a ribbon around the stick to lock moisture out.
Finally, cotton candy or fairy floss is found at a variety of stores. Just this week, I found it at my local movie theater, TJMAXX, and dollar store. Of course, it can also be ordered online from retailers like Amazon.
In addition, cotton candy flavoring can be bought from Michaels Craft Store, Amazon, or in an online search. Be sure to pick up some candy sticks at those stores as well or Walmart.
Cotton Candy Cupcakes
These whimsical cupcakes are fun and packed with cotton candy flavor. Make for a birthday party, baby shower, wedding, graduation party, or summer potluck.
- 2 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup shortening, packed (or 1/4 cup additional butter)
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup milk (I used half & half)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons cotton candy flavoring
- 18 tablespoons (that's 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 cups powdered confectioners' sugar
- 2 teaspoons cotton candy flavoring
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup shortening, packed (or use butter for less stable piped frosting)
- 1-3 dots red gel food coloring
- 1-2 dots blue gel food coloring
- candy sticks or paper straws
- few bags blue and pink cotton candy
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a muffin tin pan with paper cups; set aside.
2. In a bowl fit with paddle attachment, whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. With the mixer on low, slowly beat in chunks of shortening and butter. Turn mixer to medium and beat until mixture has small crumbs.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla extract, cotton candy flavoring, eggs, and milk.
5. With the mixer on low, slowly pour mixture into dry ingredients. Turn mixer to medium and beat until incorporated; about 1 minute. Whip down sides of bowl with a spatula and stir to mix.
6. Spoon 2 1/2 tablespoons cake batter into each cupcake. Carefully drop muffin tin pan against counter top to rid batter of air bubbles. Bake in oven for 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool.
To make the frosting
1. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a bowl fit with a mixer, beat butter, powdered confectioner's sugar, salt, and cotton candy flavoring. Once smooth, turn mixer up to medium and beat in chunks of cream cheese and shortening. Mix frosting until smooth.
Divide frosting equally between two bowls. Add 1-3 drops red food coloring in one bowl and stir to combine. In another bowl, add 1-2 drops blue food coloring then stir to combine.
2. Fill pastry bags with a cupcake tip and frost each cupcake. Frosting may need to be chilled in pastry bag to create same design as photos. Also, I used a Russian Ball Tip to frost each cupcake. See notes on where to buy, otherwise, any cupcake tip will do.
To make cotton candy sticks, allow some cotton candy to sit out for 20 minutes. Then, work a little around each stick. With the warmth from your hands, it should be flexible, just like a tootsie roll. Once sticky cotton candy sugar sticks, gently roll fresh cotton candy around. I placed mine on a foil covered baking sheet and stuck them in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving, top cupcakes with cotton candy sticks.
4. Cupcakes may need to be chilled until 30 minutes before serving.