Vanilla Bean Cupcakes and Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, but especially to mine for being my proofreader (and just generally awesome). Thanks Mom!

Treadwell Ditch Trail 2013

This month my best friend finished her Master’s degree in Computer Science, which is super exciting! To celebrate the occasion I offered to make cupcakes for the party. The first time I made these cupcakes, a year ago, they turned out delightful so I decided to revisit the recipe.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Some of you may be thinking, “Vanilla? How boring.” but I assure you these cupcakes are amazing. Unless you are just completely anti-vanilla, in which case I think you might want to get that checked out. These cupcakes are light and summery with a full vanilla flavor and pretty specks of vanilla bean throughout. They are quite delicious on their own, but of course make a great base for almost any frosting. For this occasion I used the vanilla buttercream from the original recipe, as well as a blackberry buttercream I sort of made up as I went. Although it was delicious, it’s not quite ready to share. But don’t worry, it’ll definitely be up here soon.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a very beginner friendly recipe as well as an excellent staple for the experienced baker. The original recipe calls for a vanilla bean, but I substituted vanilla bean powder which you can buy off Amazon. I love vanilla bean powder because it’s far less hassle (and cheaper!) than whole beans but has a much stronger flavor and the lovely specs that extract doesn’t. You can also use it in place of vanilla extract (or in addition to) in pretty much any baked recipe. I hear it’s also great to add a little to your coffee grounds before you brew it, but I haven’t personally tried this (yet).

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

These cupcakes are great for any occasion, but they are best for decently large parties as the recipe makes over three dozen. You could try shrinking the recipe, of course, but I suspect your friends would prefer you had extras to give away.

Pair with the vanilla bean buttercream frosting below, or your favorite frosting recipe. It would go great with a whipped cream frosting if you want to keep the whole concoction extra light. Maybe even Bailey’s whipped cream.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Adapted from Bella’s Bistro
Makes so many cupcakes (~40)

Ingredients

3 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 tsp vanilla bean powder

2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temp

1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin tins with cupcakes liners.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat butter and vanilla powder together until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and beat until completely combined.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined after each one. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. In a small cup, mix together buttermilk and vanilla extract; set aside.
  6. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, add in alternating additions with the buttermilk, mixing on low speed just until incorporated between each addition.
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary, and mix an additional 15 seconds.
  8. Using a 3 Tbsp scoop, fill the cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes (a toothpick should come out clean).
  9. Let rest at least 5 minutes in the pan, then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Frost and decorate as desired.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Bella’s Bistro
Makes enough for ~20 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Add sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated completely.
  3. Stir in vanilla and cream, then beat on medium-high speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Pipe or spread on completely cooled cupcakes as desired.

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Even more than cookies, I love ice cream. Pretty much any flavor is delicious assuming it doesn’t have nuts in it (or isn’t completely disgusting, like bubblegum.) The flavor I make most often, however, is vanilla because it goes with pie, or is good with toppings or simply plain. It’s also incredibly fast to make (excluding chilling time) since there are only five ingredients and no mix-ins.

This recipe is from the book that came with my ice cream maker. After my mom got the Kitchen-Aid attachment, she and my dad cleaned and fixed her previous ice cream maker and sent it to me. Best Easter present ever.

This particular recipe has been made so often that the book naturally falls open to its page. Notes are penciled in and the pages are slightly wrinkled from use.

I always use Egg Beaters in lieu of actual eggs because they have been pasteurized and don’t require cooking. This far lessens the work involved in making ice cream and so far I haven’t had any trouble substituting it for real eggs in any recipe.

Below is the recipe I follow for French vanilla ice cream. It never lasts long in my family, and I doubt it will in yours either.

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Adapted from Scoop Factory
Makes approximately 1 quart

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half & half or milk
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters

Directions

  1. Thoroughly whisk all ingredients in a large glass bowl with a lid.
  2. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
  3. Freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions. While the ice cream is churning in the machine, place the bowl in the freezer.
  4. Transfer ice cream back into the bowl and freeze until ready to serve.

Notes: Half & half or milk both work fine, but half & half will result in a slightly creamier texture. I find ice cream needs at least 2 hours in the freezer before it is hard enough, but that’s totally up to you. Also, my favorite container to use for making ice cream is my 8-cup batter bowl by Anchor. (I believe Pyrex makes a similar one.) The spout makes it easy to pour into the ice cream machine and the lid is handy for freezer storage.