Heat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 cupcake pans with 24 liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and 1/2 cup of milk until just blended. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Add the remaining milk; mix until combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined.
In a second bowl, add the egg whites and cream of tarter. Beat with an electric mixer on high until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peak when the mixer is lifted. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, one quarter at a time.
Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.