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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Monday was our work group's Christmas luncheon and it also happened to be my co-worker's birthday. Normally when it's your birthday in our group, you are responsible for bringing in a treat for the group. Since this fell on the same day as our lunch, I offered to make her whatever dessert she wanted. I wasn't surprised when she requested cupcakes, her love for cupcakes is well known! Turn out, her favorite cupcake flavor is vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. I've made Funfetti cupcakes from scratch, but never just plain vanilla. So I turned to Annie, the cupcake queen, and immediately knew I'd found the right recipe.

I halved the recipe and got 12 cupcakes, although Annie said a full recipe yielded 30. The entire recipe is posted below. Though I didn't get to try a finished product, I ate more than a cupcake's worth of batter and frosting and knew they'd come out delicious. My friend Juli tried one at work and declared the buttercream "melt in her mouth". So there you have it! Making a birthday cake (or cupcake!) for Jesus this Christmas?! I recommend these!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
from Annie's Eats

for the cupcakes-
-3 cups cake flour
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
-2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
-2 cups sugar
-5 large eggs, at room temperature
-1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
-1 tbsp vanilla extract

for the frosting-
-2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter softened
-2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
-1/8 tsp salt
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-2 tbsp heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper or foil liners. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter and the vanilla beans (scrape out of the pod and discard the pod). Beat butter and vanilla beans with the paddle attachment on medium-high for approximately three minutes, until light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to beat for another minute.
3. Add the sugar to the creamed butter, 1/4 cup at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. Add each of the eggs, beating after each addition. In a small bowl, mix buttermilk and vanilla extract.
4. With the mixer on low speed, alternating adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Divide batter between prepared pans, filling each cup 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes (mine were done after 18 minutes), until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. After 5-10 minutes, remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on a cooling rack.
6. To prepare the frosting, beat the butter in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium high until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and salt, beating on medium-low for 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat on medium until mixture is combined. Add vanilla and heavy cream and continue to beat until incorporated (10 seconds). Increase the speed to medium high and beat for 4 minutes, until light and fluffy (scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as needed). Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.