Hellooooo Cupcake!

I love making and sharing treats...just because.  Two of my neighbors and I tend to meet on one of our porches just about every night.  We just kind of catch up on what's going on with each other, have a glass of wine and chill out.  It's a great way to wind down the day.

One of the girls has a daughter in 8th grade that competed in a state cheer comp on Friday night.  Saturday morning, I found out that the girls won!  So, I thought it would be fun to have cupcakes for the kids that live around us to celebrate the big win.  Little Miss H loves my vanilla cupcakes, so I had to make those as a special treat.  Rather than a plain buttercream, I kicked it up a notch and added some strawberry puree.

These are wonderful cupcakes with an intense vanilla flavor and are a perfect match with various fillings and pair well with almost any frosting. The key to these are the vanilla beans.  Normally, I like to use Madegascar or Bourbon Vanilla beans.  This time, I used Mexican Vanilla beans.  It's what I had on hand.  These beans are from Penzey's Spice and have a very sweet vanilla taste to them.  Normally, I purchase my Madegascar vanilla beans (and keep them on hand) from Amazon. They have the best price and are quite fresh.  Recently, I heard about the beans from IndriVanilla.  I haven't tried them yet, but the prices look pretty reasonable, so I may need to check them out one of these days!

Anyway, on to the recipe!

Amazing Vanilla Cupcakes (makes 18 cupcakes)

1 vanilla bean
2/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Split open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds (the lovely caviar) from each side of the bean.  Put the caviar in a medium bowl with the milk.  Mix it well to break up the beans and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  This "fermentation" time will give the milk a fantastic vanilla flavor!

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 18 cupcake liners in muffin tins.

Place the butter and granulated sugar in your mixing bowl with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium for 3-4 minutes til fluffy and creamy.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix til well combined.

Remove the bowl of milk and vanilla from the refrigerator.  Add the 2 eggs, vanilla and sour cream to the milk and whisk by hand until well blended.  Pour into your mixing bowl and mix on medium for about 5 minutes.

Scoop cupcake mix into liners.  Fill approximately 2/3 full.  Don't overfill!  Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Stick a toothpick in the center of a cupcake.  If it comes out clean, they're done. If not, back for another 2 minutes and check again.  Cupcakes should be firm on top but should not be turning brown. 

Remove from the muffin tin right away and put on a cooling rack until completely cooled.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting


1 Cup unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 Cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 2-pound bag confectioner's sugar
1/4 Cup strawberry puree (unsweetened)

In your mixer bowl (with the paddle attachment), combine butter, milk and vanilla.  Mix on low until creamy.  Add 4 cups (approximately 1 pound) of confectioner's suger and mix on medium for 3-4 minutes until thoroughly blended.  Add strawberry puree and 1 more cup of sugar.  Mix on medium for about 2 minutes.  Continue adding sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistancy.  You may not end up using all of your confectioner's sugar.  Makes enough to frost approximately 24 cupcakes.

Use frosting to decorate your cupcakes after they have thoroughly cooled.