Taro Unicakes

These past few weeks have been a blur. Right when I was starting to ride the rhythm of STEP studying (for non-med school peeps, that’s our first major board exam), a (uni)cornucopia of activities flooded my rainbow iCal. There were inspiring things like seeing Travis Wall’s After the Curtain and cheering on the Shib Sibs in the Olympics (currently so obsessed with figure skating that I invested in my own skates #beijing2022). There were fun things like Panda Express-catered Chinese(-American) New Year dinner, the Dean’s Cup baking competition (for which these cupcakes were imagineered!), and most recently dancing in Cabaret, our med school’s annual talent show. And since I’m still a med student after all, there were professional development things like helping run the Eastern-Atlantic Student Research Forum, presenting an economic analysis on insurance company coverage of gym memberships, and shadowing in the NICU. I honestly think if I don’t document these things one in a while, I’ll forget half the things that happen. Really wish I could create that mind palace of Sherlock’s… Well till I can figure that out, here’s the latest recipe in Crystal and I’s collection. It took us three tries to get it right, but we’re pretty happy with the result!

Taro UnicakesIMG_3513

Makes 16 cupcakes

For the cake:


  • 2 cups (240g) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup taro*, boiled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temp

*You can substitute taro with ube but omit the baking soda (the oxidation with cause the purple ube to turn gray/black).


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda*, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer till pale and creamy (~5 min). Beat in one egg at a time, followed by vanilla.
  4. Beat in the remaining ingredients in the following order: half of the dry ingredients, milk, other half of the dry ingredients, taro*.
  5. Divide the batter into a lined cupcake pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely before frosting.

Left: Taro, Right: Ube

For the frosting:


  • 1 stick butter, cold
  • 8 oz. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. For the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, powdered sugar, milk, and salt. Beat for at least 5 min till light and fluffy. Note: using cold butter results in a better frosting consistency compared to room temperature butter (thanks Amy for the tip!). However, use a deep bowl or it may be quite messy.
  2. For a how-to on the unicorn decorations (0:52) and tri-color swirl (4:53), check out Jemma’s YouTube vid. Note: we used fondant (not modeling paste), simplified the ears, and used toothpicks to support the horns.



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