Smooches & Hugs This V-Day with our Easy XO Cupcakes

A kiss, a hug – it’s in the air!  These XO cupcakes carry their little fondant love letters so easily, and they are so simple to make. Fondant is just the grown-up version of the Play-Doh we used to play with as kids. There’s nothing to it. You’ll be banging out X’s and O’s like a love warrior, armed with a rolling pin and splattered with pink frosting.

XO Cupcakes

Fondant Roll & Cut:  

I consider myself a rookie with fondant, but so far Satin Ice Fondant has worked great for me.  Sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on the counter before rolling out the fondant (to prevent sticking) and then use a cookie cutter to make cute little X’s and O’s.  If you use white fondant, add a drop of pink and knead until the color is well incorporated.  Use some plastic gloves to avoid being the pink-handed momma-wierdo!  Or, just buy it pink ladies.

XO Cupcakes

For the frosting on these XO cupcakes, I used a good old-fashioned American Buttercream. It holds it form well, so your X’s and O’s can stand up proudly. My nephews in France tease that we Americans love our sugar and butter. I tease back that it just makes us sweeter!

XO Cupcakes

Grab your KitchenAid to get that frosting going. It’s very important to sift the powdered sugar as you’re adding it to the butter. You don’t want any lumps. Add in vanilla and salt, then whip it into shape (on high speed) for about 4-5 minutes so that it’s nice and fluffy.  I use Americolor for my food coloring, and I literally dropped a teensy eeensy weensy bit.  You can always add more, but I wanted that perfect light pink.

XO Cupcakes

Now for the fun part – decorating! Place a piping bag in a cup so it’s easy to scoop the frosting into. Once it’s a little over halfway full, squeeze all the frosting down so that it easily comes out of the tip. I recommend using an Ateco #805 for your tip.  If you don’t have that tip, try cutting the bag tip so that the hole is a about one centimeter in diameter.  Start wide along the border of the cake (leave about 1/4″ from the edge), then simply swirl up.  It is a mountain of pink fluffy love!

Add your adorable fondant letters to the top and give your finished XO cupcakes to your Valentine. Smooches!

XO Cupcakes


Photos by: Maria Hedrick Photography

Pink XO Cupcakes

By TheSweetNerd  

January 8, 2020

Cupcake Recipe Adapted From Cooks Illustrated
Frosting Recipe From Jennifer Shea, Craftsy

  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins



2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces), softened but still cool

Easy American Buttercream Frosting

3 cups (680 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Smidgen of pink food coloring (Americolor gel paste)


Pink Fondant

X an O Cutters

Cornstarch for light dusting

Piping bag



1Glass Measurer: Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

2Mixer: Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed.

3Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

4Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes.

5Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

6Divide and scoop batter evenly into cupcake liners.

7Bake at 350F. Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Easy American Buttercream Frosting

1Cream the butter in a standing mixer. Aerate room temperature butter for about 1 minute on medium speed.

2Add the sugar, about 1 cup at a time, until it is fully incorporated. Then add the next cup and incorporate again. Repeat until you have added all the sugar. (Be sure to scrape down in between mixing). Last, add the vanilla and salt. Beat at low speed for 15 seconds until incorporated. Finally, whip (on medium to high speed) for about 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add a morsel of pink color, and enjoy!

Fondant / Piping / Decorating

1Sprinkle a bit of cornstarch and roll out a small handful of pink fondant. Cut your XO shapes and set aside.

2Fill a piping bag using an Ateco 805 tip or cut the tip of the bag to be one centimeter in diameter. Pipe in a circular direction starting at the edge leaving yourself a 1/4" border - swirl up!

3Last, place the XO atop the cupcake.



XO Cupcakes



  • Jessica
    7 years ago

    Hi- do you have to use cake flour, or is all purpose OK to use?

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Hi Jessica. Yes, you can use AP flour and it should be fine! Cake flour has less protein content than AP flour and is therefore slightly lighter. A quick trick you can try is to substitute 2 tablespoons of corn starch to a cup of AP flour to help accomplish the cake flour consistency. Hope this helps!

  • 7 years ago

    I’ve always been intimidated by fondant. You make it look super easy, though. Maybe I will give it a shot. These would be perfect for a baby shower. So cute!

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      I found fondant to be intimidating too, so I understand that feeling. It really is like play dough, and just approach it like our kids do and you will be flipping it around like a pizza and cutting it like a warrior!

  • Kendall
    7 years ago

    Simplicity really does the trick for these cupcakes! Yummy and beautiful.

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      Thanks Kendall. I love these ones too and totally agree – sometimes less is best. Cheers!

  • Lorna Soonhee
    7 years ago

    This is such a cute cupcake recipe! Is it hard to mix in the food coloring with the fondant to make it look perfect?

    • Cindy "TheSweetNerd" Rodriguez
      7 years ago

      When you work with small batches, it is easy (wear gloves if you can). The colors meld fairly quickly into the fondant giving it full color coverage. It is the larger batches of fondant that give you a great arm-workout! I am always amazed at the variety of fondant colors that are now available online so if you preplan a bit, your job will be easy.

  • Anna Ehrlich
    5 years ago

    Love the look of these beautiful soft Valentine cupcake! The fondant looks beautiful!

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