Believe it or not there is a difference between cupcakes and muffins, as they are not the same! Cupcakes are cupcakes and muffins are muffins.
Though it might be hard to pinpoint the exact difference between a cupcake and a muffin, it should be very clear after your first bite if you are eating a cupcake or muffin. However once you start loading things like chocolates and topping them with glazed sugars, it starts to become hard to tell the difference between a muffin and a cupcake.
One similarity between the two is the ingredients that are used. Both normally contain flour, eggs, butter, sugar and milk. However, muffins can replace all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, oat flour, as well as various nut flours. Muffins can also have a variety of tasty mix-in treats, including fruits, nuts, chocolates, and much more. When it comes to cupcakes, the amount of sugar and butter is higher in cupcakes.
The mixing process and the consistency of the batter also differentiates from cupcakes and muffins. For cupcakes the batter is made by creaming the butter and sugar together to create a smooth and fluffy batter. The batter for cupcakes is also beaten slightly longer than with muffins; this creates a uniformness of air bubbles throughout the cupcake. Muffin batter is beaten briefly, but remains lumpy. Making for a more dense baked good.
Muffins are believed to be the healthier option of the two, however this is not always the case. It depends on what is used to bake the muffins, but this is why muffins are seen as an acceptable option when it comes to eating them for Breakfast. You can have savoury muffins, but not savoury cupcakes.
When it comes to the differences visually, the real difference between the two is the frosting on cupcakes. Cupcakes are topped with with a creamy and delicious frosting. Muffins on the other hand may have a sugary top or have a very thin glaze poured over them. The fillings inside muffins also add some excitement to the baked good, which add some excitement into taking that first bite. This also explains why some muffins might not have anything added on top of them.
If you think that removing the frosting off of a cupcake makes it into a muffin, unfortunately you are wrong. When it comes down to it, a cupcake is a small cake, while a muffin is a smaller version of quick bread.