Neapolitan Cupcakes

September 27, 2014

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These Neapolitan Cupcakes have three irresistible flavors: a milk chocolate cupcake, a fluffy vanilla bean cupcake and strawberry buttercream frosting. This is easily the most unique cupcake recipe I’ve made to date! 

Neapolitan Cupcake

Neapolitan Cupcakes From Scratch

Here’s a classic ice cream flavor turned into cupcakes and you’re going to love them! They are soft as clouds and layered with three irresistible flavors: a milk chocolate-like cupcake, a vanilla bean cupcake and a fresh strawberry frosting. I just couldn’t get enough of them!

Because of these, I know I’ve found a new obsession — layered cupcakes. As if I needed another food to be crazy about, but honestly there’s just no way I could resist these.

I have the feeling you’ll be seeing more layered cupcakes on here in the future. I know they can be a little tricky, as finding two batters that have a similar consistency so the top layer doesn’t just sink into the bottom will always be the challenge.

With this unique cupcake recipe, I just used my favorite chocolate cupcake batter and a light and fluffy white vanilla bean batter. I chose not to go with a traditional vanilla cupcake because it would have been too heavy, but also because I wanted a whiter cupcake with less of a yellow tint to it (which egg yolks will do).

I loved cutting the cupcakes in half to see the contrast between the layers, because the cupcakes are more white inside. Yes, these homemade cupcakes take a bit more effort than a traditional cupcake since you have to make two batters, but it is well worth it.

Plus, the recipe does make 24 so it’s not like you are putting in the extra effort for only a dozen cupcakes. Ice cream flavor turned cupcake — you need these in your life, don’t you think?

four Neapolitan Cupcakes on wire rack

Neapolitan Cupcake Ingredients

Don’t let the lengthy ingredient list list scare you off! There are lots of repeat ingredients needed for the cupcake layers.

For the chocolate cupcake layer, you’ll need:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking soda
  • Boiling water
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Heavy cream
  • All-purpose flour

For the vanilla cupcake layer, you’ll need:

  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla bean seeds
  • Egg whites
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract

And for the strawberry buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Freeze dried strawberries
  • Heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar

Neapolitan Cupcakes cut in half on counter

How to Make Cupcakes From Scratch

  • Make chocolate cupcake batter, then distribute it among 22 paper-lined muffin cups.
  • Make vanilla cupcake batter, then gently add 2 tablespoons of batter on top of the chocolate batter.
  • Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, then leave on counter to cool completely.
  • While the cupcakes cool, make the strawberry buttercream frosting.
  • Pipe strawberry frosting onto cupcakes and enjoy!

Can I Use Fresh Strawberries in the Frosting?

Yes, if you’d rather make fresh strawberry buttercream, you can make a double batch of this strawberry buttercream frosting recipe. It has a few more steps than the strawberry frosting I used in this homemade cupcakes recipe, but it’s equally delicious!

Can I Freeze the Cupcakes for Later?

If you have a special event in mind you’d like to prep these cupcakes for, I recommend making and freezing the cupcake base and waiting until the day of to make the strawberry frosting! Freeze the Neapolitan cupcakes in a freezer bag and thaw on your counter when you’re ready to eat them.

unique cupcake recipe with two layers

Tips for the Best Cupcakes

  • When making the chocolate cupcake batter, the water must be boiling. Warm tap water won’t work!
  • Be careful when spreading the vanilla bean cupcake batter over the chocolate batter — you don’t want the two flavors to mix too much.
  • When making the strawberry buttercream, the butter must be softened to room temperature before you whip it up. If the butter is too cold, it won’t fluff up properly.

Neapolitan Cupcake with strawberry frosting

More Homemade Cupcake Recipes You’ll Love:

4.7 from 10 votes

Neapolitan Cupcakes

A luscious and impressive cupcake with three tempting flavors in one - chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Everyone is sure to fall in love with these!
Servings: 22
Prep45 minutes
Cook35 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcake

  • 1/3 cup unsweetend cocoa powder*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk (reserve white for white portion of cupcake)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour*

White Vanilla Cupcake

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour*
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 7 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Seeds of 1/2 large vanilla bean
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup milk (anything but skim)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberry Frosting

Instructions

For the chocolate cupcake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large heat proof mixing bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and baking soda. Carefully pour in boiling water and whisk until bubbling subsides and mixture is well blended, allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on low speed, blend together melted butter, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, vanilla and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds. Stir in egg and egg yolk. Blend in cocoa mixture then blend in heavy cream. Slowly mix in flour and blend until combined, while scraping down sides and bottom of bowl.
  • Spoon an even 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) into bottom of 22 paper lined muffin cups and spread into an even layer, set aside.

For the white vanilla cupcake:

  • Sift cake flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add baking powder and salt and whisk mixture 20 seconds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter and sugar with vanilla bean seeds on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. In separate mixing bowl whisk together milk, egg whites and vanilla extract until well blended.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture, then mix until combined, then add 1/2 of the milk/egg mixture and mix on low speed until combined then increase to medium speed and mix 1 minute (if you are using a paddle attachment that doesn't constantly scrape bowl, then mix 1 1/2 minutes and occasionally scrape down sides and bottom of bowl throughout mixing.
  • Batter should become fluffy). Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining 1/2 of the milk/egg mixture and mix on low until combined then increase to medium and mix 1 minute (1 1/2 minutes with regular paddle attachment, it should have the consistency similar to fluffy mousse). Add last 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  • Gently dollop a heaping 1/8 cup over chocolate layer in cupcake wells and carefully spread batter evenly to edges. 
  • Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 16 - 19 minutes. Cool in baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (once cool immediately store in an airtight container). Pipe or spread strawberry frosting over cupcake once cooled. 

For the strawberry buttercream frosting:

Notes

  • *I used the scoop and level method to measure dry ingredients.
  • **The frosting recipe I've linked uses freeze dried strawberries. If you'd rather make strawberry frosting with fresh strawberries, make a double batch of my fresh strawberry frosting recipe
  • Important note: nutrition estimate does not include frosting.
Nutrition Facts
Neapolitan Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 203 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 36mg12%
Sodium 97mg4%
Potassium 89mg3%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 15g17%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 249IU5%
Calcium 31mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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138 Comments

  • Jillian

    These cupcakes were delicious! I was nervous bc the chocolate layer was soupy and the vanilla layer seems so heavy but it worked out great. My only complaint is neither layer rose very much so the cupcakes were quite petite. Otherwise very good cupcakes and will try them again but maybe make only 18 so there is a bit more batter in each.

  • Deb

    I made these cupcakes yesterday and I really love them! The chocolate layer is SO delicious! I have a question though… my chocolate layer did rise quiet a bit more then the vanilla layer. I measured them out equally but the chocolate layer is much thicker and in some cupcakes and even came out the top in a point. What could of gone wrong? I want to make them again and I want them to look perfect haha.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Maybe you could try mixing the chocolate cupcake batter a little less so there isn’t so much air in there, then maybe even omit the extra egg yolk as this makes the cupcake rise more. It’s good to have the chocolate batter thicker though because you want the layers to keep divided. Hope that helps!

  • Tiffany H.

    Worst tasting God-awful cupcakes I have ever made in my life. That was a wasted 2+ hours I will never get back. My boyfriend found this recipe online and insisted I make these for his birthday. The ordeal of making them was a nightmare. I was ready to break up with him over this. They basically tasted as good as a piece of cardboard with a dollop of Crisco. 🤢

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      A breakup over a birthday cupcake request? This has to be a joke, or otherwise it sounds like he’d better just be on his way because that’s straight up wrong. Be nice, it’s his birthday and he just want’s some cupcakes. I’m sorry if this recipe didn’t work out for you but that’s not his fault.

  • Carol O’Neill

    OMG These are incredible cupcakes. I made them with Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour. My grandkids and family LOVED them. Next time I will prepare the strawberries ahead of time so they can have more time to drain but other than that they were fabulous