For Cupcakes
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate well.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk in batches to the mixture.

4. Spoon batter into each cup, filling about ¾ full. Bake 20–25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before topping or frosting.

For Buttercream Icing
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
5 large egg whites
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 package store-bought cotton candy
Red food coloring

1. Using a double boiler, combine egg whites and sugar, whisking until sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat on high until mixture is completely cool, about 15 minutes.

3. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until completely incorporated.

4. Add vanilla and 2 drops of red food coloring to achieve pink color.

5. Before serving, add pinches of packaged cotton candy, about a handful total.

6. Frost cupcakes traditionally or scoop frosting into a zip-top plastic bag and squeeze into the bottom. Snip off the corner with scissors, pipe in a swirling motion onto cupcake. Top with a pinch of cotton candy.

Recipes by Sara Lane

Nikki Bowman
Written by Nikki Bowman
Nikki Bowman, a West Virginia native, is the founder and owner of New South Media, Inc., which publishes the critically acclaimed WV Living, WV Weddings, West Virginia Focus, Explore, and Morgantown magazines. In January 2015, her company also took over the editorial and design of Wonderful West Virginia magazine. She graduated from West Virginia University and received her master’s degree in Writing from DePaul University in Chicago.