Portillo’s Chocolate Cupcakes

So it was my little brother’s high school graduation this weekend!

It was a gorgeous ceremony. Picture happy students eagerly waiting for their hard-earned diplomas…proud parents snapping pictures and taking videos… a beautiful school choir singing songs of encouragement and good luck….


The power goes out. Halfway through distributing the diplomas. Pitch black. 

(pic of the gym post-black-out)

Best graduation EVER!

I swear it was like a rave. Only better. It was almost instantaneous; as soon as the power went out, everyone in the gym started flashing their cameras excitedly trying to snap pics of the chaos. It was like everyone had their own personal strobe light. I was just waiting for the bad techno to blast through the speakers and for someone to whip out the glow sticks.

And it gets better, it wasn’t just a blip of a shortage, an entire line had gone down a few streets down… meaning we wouldn’t have power for hours. So the principal (who was my principal too! awesome guy!) whips out a mega phone and announces that the only choice we have is to finish the ceremony by flashlight… and quick. Because the battery operated emergency lights aren’t going to last much longer.

But it all honestly worked out so well! The kids are all great kids and cooperated with the chaos and had the best time laughing and tripping into line in the dark gym, waiting to grab their diplomas. Its definitely a graduation they’ll never forget :) Congrats little bro!!! I’m so proud of you!!

So in honor of his graduation I baked him a Vegan Strawberry Cake!

….And it was disgusting. Worst cake ever. I”m the first to push my so-so recipes onto my family and even I couldn’t push this one. If you look at his face you can already tell he’s not feeling it…

Here’s my little bro pretending he’s enjoying himself….such a smart kid to pretend like he likes my food :)

So to make up for my gooey vegetable concoction I made him his favorite dessert! Portillo’s Chocolate Cake, only as cupcakes! Portillo’s is a Chicago-based chain restaurant that serves up the best Chicago-style food- think Italian beef, hotdogs, chopped salads…

If you’re not from Chicago and you’ve never had a slice of Portillo’s cake you need to immediately book the next flight out, because you have no idea what you’re missing. It’s like when I had never heard of Nutella, and then as soon I had it for the first time I didn’t know how I had managed to breathe without it??

Now, lovely readers, please do not judge this recipe. This cake is not for the gourmet. If you want an elegant, fine chocolate, whipped frosting, 3 hours in the kitchen kind of cake… you will like this even better.

It is cake mix mixed with mayonnaise, water, and eggs, and topped in store bought frosting. Disgusting. I know. But soooo disgustingly good. And I swear to you this is the real Portillo’s recipe (or at least the best I could find on google). They use boxed cake mix?? And canned frosting?? I was horrified the first time I heard, but I love their cake so much I’ve been able to look past the betty crocker and chemical reactions on the back of the frosting can.

Also, I know my blog is mainly about healthy and whole ingredients but for special occasions even I like to make exceptions, especially for my little bro :) There’s a certain comfort in eating one of our favorite treats growing up, so I thought it was only fitting to recreate it on his graduation day!

And for all you Chicagoans out there you know what I mean!

Enjoy! (and then eat a carrot… there is no nutritional value to this recipe… :)

Portillo’s Chocolate Cupcakes

Yields 24 cupcakes


  • 1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Butter Recipe Cake Mix (I used Devil’s Food because thats all they had the grocery store)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup Hellman’s Mayonaise
  • 1 container Betty Crocker Chocolate Frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffins tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Combine cake mix, eggs, water, and mayonnaise in a large bowl. Beat on medium-high speed for 4 minutes until fluffy.
  3. Divide batter evenly between 24 cups, filling about 2/3 of the way.
  4. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Frost with frosting.
Nutrition (per cupcake); Calories: 206, Fat: 11 grams

Love you baby bro! Michigan’s lucky to have you!!


  1. Haha! That graduation sure sounds like an experience.

    I made a birthday cake for my brother-in-law that was so bad I couldn’t blog it either. But, it looked so pretty! LOL!

    These cupcakes made up for it, I’m sure!

  2. This story should go on a list of how to make graduations more exciting!

  3. Awww! Congrats to your little bro! He totally reminds me of my little brother (although mine went to Ohio State–it’s ok though, bc he transferred to Kent, so there shouldn’t be any weird football turf wars with our brothers :P) I like…want to go to Portillos now. And it is so sweet that you re-created a childhood fav. for your bro, that’s awesome :) My poor brother didn’t get to have my cook/bake for him much bc I didn’t get into it until after I had moved away. He consistently begs me to ship him cookies. :P

    • Whipped Baking says:

      haha I have the total opposite problem… my little brother is like “STOP pushing food on me Kristina…” as I hand him another vegan chocolate chip cookie to taste test…he’s going to be the only guy freshman in his dorm that knows what Earth Balance Margarine is haha

      Is ur little bro out of school now or is he still at Kent?

  4. Congrats to the graduate. Pretty cool about the blackout-makes for a very memorable event. As far as these cupcakes being quick and easy-that is just an extra bonus. Your cupcakes do look like they would pass the test of any chocoholic-yum! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Haha definitely a graduation they’ll never forget :) Or anyone else….it was so funny, it was all over our local newspaper this morning too, our little high school made the headlines!

  5. Congrats to your brother on graduating!Wow, the blackout sure made the graduation quite memorable I’m sure :)As for the cupcakes, they look really good and moist and super easy.I’d take that any day :)

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Aw thanks! He thinks he’s a big rock star now from all the sweet comments wishing him congrats! Thanks Soni :)

  6. Now these would be a hit at my house. Chocolate and more chocolate…and they don’t care if it’s Hostess or homemade :) Congrats to your brother. My youngest just graduated from hs, too, and they’ll be on opposing Big 10 teams…now I’ll think of you when IU plays Michigan :) That will be a graduation those kids will talk about for years!

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Aw congrats to your youngest too! And uh oh… IU huh? :) My little brother’s best friend is heading off there too, so now he’s got his best friend at IU and me from U of I… no one can agree on a team! Too bad U of I needs to get their game together.. I don’t have much to work with haha

  7. This is the cutest grad present ever :D
    It looks totally delicious – you want to come to my yr 12 one?

    Choc Chip Uru

  8. Your redesign is done! Yay! I love it!!

    Congrats to your little brother. What an exciting graduation! The chocolate cake looks delicious! You’re right though, it sounds kinda gross. haha If I’m ever in Chicago, I’ll have to check our Portillo’s!

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Yay thanks!!! Its sooo close, just a few kinks were working out right now, I’m so excited! Haha and definitely check out Portillo’s, its fast food so don’t judge but I swear to God you will have the best Italian beef of your life :)

  9. Gorgeous dish, I would totally dive in

  10. Funny graduation story. That could have been a real mess. Guess that will be one memory that won’t go away for a while. I don’t know if I could do mayo in a cupcake. Mainly because I really don’t like mayo. I used to work at a fancy bakery in college and we sold brownies from a box mix. Whenever we tried the real thing people complained. They were paying $8 a pan for less than they would have gotten from the $1 a box mix in the store. Crazy!

    • Whipped Baking says:

      haha thats so crazy! Its so funny learning about that kind of stuff, how are you even allowed to do that? Do you need like an agreement with Betty Crocker or can restaurants just sell that mix whenever they want??

  11. i think a road trip to chicago is in order! congrats to your brother :)

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Haha yes it is!! And thanks :) He’s so old now! I can’t believe it!

  12. That sounds like a great graduation :)

    Sometimes it’s okay to be a Betty Crocker Cheat. It has its time and place and sometimes it even knocks your socks off. It’s also not the first time I’ve seen mayonnaise in a chocolate cake, so I believe you when you say it’s delicious! I have also seen a chocolate cake recipe containing a tin of tomato soup, and that one I’m a little more hesitant about…

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Haha ok I don’t know about the whole tomato soup thing… I’d go mayo before that… :) And totally agree, Betty Crocker knows her stuff, I forgot how goodddd that canned frosting is, but shh.. don’t tell :)

  13. Oh Kristina! What a great post! Congratulations to your brother! Such an exciting time! And a graduation he will most definitely never forget! And how sweet of you to make him both cake AND cupcakes! I know that mayo concoction really makes for a moist cake! And they look fabulous! I bet he will miss your cooking and baking! Glad it was a nice celebration for the both of you! : )

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Thanks Anne! He’s loving all of your comments! And I know, don’t I spoil him?? (or myself… I really wanted those cupcakes!) Now all he’s got to look forward to is dorm food :)

  14. Congratulations to your brother, Kristina! What a lovely post! The cupcakes look sinfully delicious and the perfect way to celebrate. :)

  15. 1. My little brother is graduating today! and 2. I LOVE Portillo’s. When I graduated from high school (which feels like ages ago…) we catered from Portillo’s for my party! I love that you made the portillo’s cupcakes and I wonder if it would be good to substitute the mayo with greek yogurt…I might have to try it! Plus, I am going to Portillo’s today for lunch! Weird! Anyways, I think it’s pretty cute how much I had in common with this post. Congrats to your lil’ brother and enjoy those awesome looking cupcakes!

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Haha okkkk so weird! I LOVE that you catered from Portillos but i’m not even kidding I think I order their chocolate cake for almost every special occasion.. I’m obsessed! Congrats to your little bro too! So weird when they grow up on us, huh? :)

  16. YUM! And I am loving your new website design! I’ve been looking for someone to redesign mine and saw that you worked with Pie n’ the Sky for your last design. I contacted her twice and never heard back!



  17. Yum! Looks great! I’m also loving your new website design! I’ve been looking for someone to redesign my site and saw that you worked with Pie n’ the Sky for your last website look. I contacted her twice but never heard back. :( Do you recommend anyone ibn particular now? Thanks!



  18. Congratulations to your brother! and what a graduation experience! oh man, these cupcakes do look amazing!

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Haha such a fun time! I was dragging my feet to go to it too… 2 hours sitting in a hot gym… ick. But so happy I went, such a memorable day for those kids!

  19. YOU CHANGED YOUR LAYOUT! And it looks AWESOME. AND SO CUTE! & wow. THIS cake…the way you described it, makes it seems so fascinating. I think I will have to give it a try! Congrats to your brother!

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Yay I did!! So happy you like it!! I’ve been planning this out for so long! Haha and I swear, mayo in cake sounds absolutely disgusting… but it was SO super moist, you just got to forget about the whole Hellman’s thing… :)

  20. Boyfriend and I have recently been re-watching all of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, so when you said they put mayonaise in the cake, I INSTANTLY thought of Marshall’s family and how they put mayonaise in everything (and totally freak Lily out in the process).

    You’re a good sister to endure adding mayo to boxed cake mix and canned frosting for your little bro. =)

    Also, LOVE the new design! Isn’t sprucing up fun??

  21. Your brother is very lucky… but deserved on his birthday:) I love making cakes for my sisters on their birthdays too:)

  22. Sometimes the easiest recipes are the best. Definitely a memorable graduation!

  23. What an adorable post! :) Congrats to your brother! Those cupcakes look divine! And your blog is oh so cute! I love the new design!!

  24. Kristina,

    Sounds like your brothers graduation was quite experience.

    I love your cupcakes .I used to work at Portillos Catering Center as a Party planner, so I know all bout Portillos chocolate Cake. It is so good, but I never made it in cupcake form. They sell thousands of the, just mention chocolate cake, and they add it to their order. People even order them for wedding cake. I’ll be making these cupcakes, soon.

    • Whipped Baking says:

      Haha I believe it, it seriously is the best chocolate cake! Have you had the chocolate cake shake? It’s pretty intense…. but is amazing for the first few sips :)

  25. hahaha I love his face at the strawberry cake! Way to make everything right with the world by making some Portillo’s cake, though! ;) I live in the Chicago area and I HAVE to get my Portillo’s chopped salad about every month. I have made it at home plenty of times, but it just isn’t the same. They have the *best* food!!

    • Whipped Baking says:

      haha its all about the chopped salad! That’s my regular order too :) And then I sneak a few fries from whoever’s with me….nice to meet another chicago girl!!