Graduation Cupcakes

Intensive Cake Unit
by Intensive Cake Unit
24 Cupcakes
1 hr 5 min

As much as I can’t really believe it – we’re coming up on graduation season! Even though I know a lot of ceremonies and parties are still being capped or canceled by Covid precautions, this year’s graduates have been through extra levels of h*ll to get their diplomas or degrees and should definitely be celebrated!

Lately I can’t get on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest without seeing pictures/videos/stories of graduation announcements, soo here’s an idea if you need a fun way to celebrate a graduate in your life!

These cupcakes are a super-easy, delicious, and occasion-appropriate treat to serve at any graduation event! My sister and I made these for her high school graduation. Recipe below!

Recipe details
  • 24  Cupcakes
  • Prep time: 45 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 5 min
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  • 1 box Chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • (Note - if you'd rather bake cupcakes from scratch, there's a recipe in my original blog post at !)
Frosting / Decorations
  • 8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
  • 16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
  • 5 ½ -6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 4-6 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 T clear vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 24-cup cupcake pan(s)
  • 24 Reese’s cups or Rolos (or any small cylindrical chocolate in your area!)
  • 24 chocolate squares (we used Ghiradelli; chocolate of your choice!)
  • Small piping bag + small round tip - I used the second-smallest tip from this set !
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a fan forced oven. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper or foil cupcake liners. (Extra points if you can find colors matching your graduate’s school colors!)
Combine wet ingredients in a mixing bowl with a whisk, then beat in cake mix for 2 minutes (or according to package directions) until well-blended. (Most boxed mixes call for eggs, oil, and water; I add an extra egg and replace oil and water with butter and buttermilk for a richer cupcake. Up to you!)
Fill each paper 3/4 of the way (using a cookie or ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners makes this a quick and easy process)!
Bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely before decorating, or your frosting will melt!
Frosting / Decorating
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar until frosting reaches a pipeable consistency. Reserve about ½ cup to color and use for piping the cupcake tassels! Continue beating, adding the rest of the powdered sugar alternating with cocoa powder and milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
When your cupcakes have cooled completely (I sometimes toss them in the freezer for 5-15 minutes to accelerate the process!) pipe frosting onto them in large swirls.
Color your reserved frosting the color of your choice – my sister and I opted for teal. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe a small wavy line from the center of each chocolate square toward the edge with a few lines at the end to resemble a tassel. Stick a Rolo or Reese’s cup to the bottom of each chocolate square with a small dab of frosting, and transfer to the tops of your cupcakes! Enjoy!
  • Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!
Intensive Cake Unit
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!