Buttermilk Cupcakes with a Chocolate Butterfly Decoration

I recently had a birthday I needed to cater for and as much as I love baking and decorating cakes for myself I always find it a little scary doing them for someone else, because you really need to take into account their tastes, and not just what you fancy baking for yourself!

The birthday girl in question can be very girly at times and absolutely loves butterflies so I wanted to do something that incorporated them. Usually I will do something with sugar paste but I wanted something a little bit more homemade and a bit more indulgent. Hence why I decided to give working with chocolate a go.

Buttermilk Butterfly Cupcakes

As I was going to be spending a lot of time on the decorations I decided to go for a good standby cake that I know is delicious, a vanilla buttermilk sponge. Quick and simple to put together, perfect. Which gave me more time to spend on the chocolate butterflies. So this is where my creation of buttermilk cupcakes with a chocolate butterfly decoration came from!

They were a big hit with the birthday girl and were eaten all in one evening, which is always a good sign!!!

These cakes by no means have to have the butterfly decoration; they are just as wonderful with a buttercream swirl on top in the flavor of your choice.

*The measurement in cups is a guide this recipe was made using metric weight* 

Buttermilk Cupcakes with a Chocolate Butterfly Decoration
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A light buttermilk cake with a chocolate butterfly decoration
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12 Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
  • 155 grams Plain flour (All Purpose), (1 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 200 grams caster sugar, (7/8 cup)
  • 56 grams Unsalted butter - at room temperature, (1/2 stick)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 240 millilitres buttermilk, (1 cup)
For the frosting
  • 115 grams Unsalted butter - at room temperature, (1 stick)
  • 60 millilitres milk, (1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 500 grams Icing sugar (Confectioners sugar), (4 and ½ cups)
For the butterflies
  • 100 grams brown candy melts, (Generous ½ cup)
  • 150 grams red coloured candy melts - Or your own choice of colour, (1 cup)
  • 150 grams pink coloured candy melts - Or your own choice of colour, (1 cup)
  • 150 grams orange coloured candy melts - Or your own choice of colour, (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon coloured nonpareil sprinkles
Directions for the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚C / 176˚C / Gas mark 4
  2. In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
  3. In a mixer or large bowl beat the butter and sugar together until its light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract if using it and mix until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Sift half of the flour mix into the wet ingredients and fold in until almost fully mixed. Then add the buttermilk and again mix until almost fully combined.
  6. Add the remaining flour mix, and gently mix until all the ingredients are fully combined.
  7. Bake in the oven for 18 - 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before transferring them to a wire rack to fully cool.
Directions for the frosting

  1. buttermilk cupcakes with a chocolate butterfly decoration
  2. Beat the butter until it is light in color then add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the icing sugar and mix well.
  3. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat until fully mixed in and smooth in consistency.
  4. Pipe or spoon a small amount onto each of the cupcakes so the butterfly will have something to stick to.
Directions for the butterflies
  1. First you need to draw your stencil on a sheet of baking parchment. The butterfly body and wings must be separated.
  2. Then turn your baking parchment over, making sure you can see your stencil clearly.
    stencil for the chocolate butterfly
  3. Melt your brown candy melts in a zip lock bag for 30 seconds at a time on half power in the microwave. Once all melted, snip the very tip of the bag and follow the outline of the butterfly. Allow them to set and harden, about 5 minutes.
    butterfly chocolate outline
  4. Choose the first color you wish to work with, I used pink, red and orange but the choice is yours.
  5. Again place the first of the colored candy melts in a zip lock bag and place in the microwave and melt as before.
  6. Once melted fill in the wing outlines. You can be as creative as you like here; you could add several colors to one wing if you so wish. I just stuck to one color. While the chocolate is still not set sprinkle a few colored nonpareils on the top of each wing. And leave to fully set, about 10 minutes.
    the chocolate butterfly wings filled with pink candy melts
  7. Once the wings and body are all set its time to “glue” them together. The best glue for chocolate is more chocolate. Grab the bag with the brown chocolate melts or pop some new ones in a bag and melt as before.
  8. Lift one on the wings carefully and dab a little chocolate own its edge and stick it to the body at a chosen angle. I did my butterflies at different angles to give the cakes some variety.
  9. Hold it there for about 3 minutes; you will feel it when the wing is stuck fully. Glue the other wing on in the same way.
    finished chocolate butterfly
  10. There is your first butterfly chocolate decoration, ready to be placed on your cupcake, do just that by letting it sit in the bed of buttercream.
  11. To finish I sprinkled a little edible gold glitter over the plate, just to give it a bit of sparkle.
    Buttermilk Butterfly Cupcakes


Author: Emma

I make, photograph and write every post on Bake The Eat. If you ever come over to visit you will be presented with a plethora of home bakes, expect to leave my home a few pounds heavier and with a doggy bag!

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  1. I adore your butterflies – so cute! You’ve got me thinking about where I can buy candy melts (do you have a favourite brand/) and buttermilk – have never used that either in cooking. I feel some food exploring coming on! Thank you!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Rachel. Thank you for your comments. There are loads of online stores that sell candy melts and most specialist cake decorating shops will sell them. A good online one to go to is this one http://www.lawsonshop.co.uk its a shop I do actually go in and have bought online with them also. I use the Wilton brand but am sure others are just as good. Its good chocolate to work with as you don’t have to temper it. And buttermilk adds something just so lovely to cakes, muffins and pancakes! Happy experimenting :)

      Post a Reply
  2. These look fantastic.. I think I might try them out for my daughters birthday :)

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Kailsmum thank you very much, I am sure your daughter will love them they do make a good centre piece for a party :)

      Post a Reply
  3. Wow how colorful!!!. What lovely presentation it was. I enjoyed reading this. You have even described how to decorate it so well. I liked that part so very much. Great work.

    Post a Reply
  4. This is a great recipe, I managed to pull it off with the help of my wife and kids. Thanks! :)

    Post a Reply

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