Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Dear readers,

I’m not sure what happened, but it seems this sweet recipe from February got lost in the crowd and never posted. I just came across it in my drafts folder. So, without further ado, here is a belated recipe for vanilla bean cupcakes, from scratch:

Well, it was someone’s birthday yesterday (okay, it was mine), so I just had to make something extra sweet to celebrate my crossing that line into the late-twenties crowd. Keeping in mind my penchant for neutral wall colors and all things grey and beige, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I have a soft spot for vanilla.

Vanilla gets a bum rap for being boring and bland. But I find vanilla to be warm, velvety, sweet, and (if it’s done right) a little bit tangy. I’ve always loved vanilla bean ice cream, so I wanted to use vanilla bean in this recipe. I happily headed off to the grocery store, only to have a mild heart attack in the spice aisle when I discovered how much fresh vanilla bean can run for. Not that it was exorbitant…I just wasn’t prepared for it to cost nearly three times as much as my other spices. I chalked it up to a special occasion and took the plunge. So here’s a tip for you: go find yourself one of those crunchy stores that sells crystals and herbs and loose tea and see if you can find vanilla bean for a cheaper cost. I also came across suggestions to purchase it online for a reduced price.

For the cupcakes, you’ll need:

1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of table salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

For the buttercream frosting, you’ll need:

2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 and 1/2 cups of powdered confectioners sugar
the caviar of 1 vanilla bean

Get cooking:

First you’ll make the frosting. Using a stand mixer, whip the two sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature with the vanilla bean. Whip this on medium-high speed for about five minutes. Scrape the bowl if necessary. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add 2 and 1/2 cups of powdered confectioners sugar. Once incorporated, put the speed back up to medium-high and whip for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Set aside.

Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. To make the cupcakes, you first need to whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter, sour cream, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a spatula if needed.

Line a standard muffin/cupcake tin with paper cupcake liners. Fill each liner halfway with batter and bake until the cupcake tops are pale gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. After they’ve cooled for about 10 minutes, transfer the cupcakes to a wire cooling rack for further cooling. Let cool completely before frosting.

I loved these cupcakes, but I don’t think I’ve gotten the buttercream down quite yet. This frosting was a little too heavy and buttery for me. I would prefer a whipped frosting. Next time!

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