Double Vanilla Cupcakes

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord as he shares a favorite cupcake. ~Elise

It raises my hackles when someone calls something “plain vanilla.” Plain? Plain?! Are they insane?! There’s nothing plain about vanilla!

Given, I’m a little more passionate about the spice than most (if it wasn’t apparent enough). Heck, I named my blog after the stuff. I have no less than 9 varieties of vanilla beans in my pantry. Not to mention 6 kinds of vanilla extract – three of them homemade. Vanilla oil, vanilla sugar, chopped up vanilla beans. I even keep a dried bean in the filter of my vacuum so the place smells like vanilla when I clean.

Even when we discuss the flavor of vanilla, there’s nothing plain about it. Mexican vanilla has a velvety, sweet and creamy scent that begs to be made into puddings. Tahitian vanilla has a heady aroma of figs, that reminds me of summers eating the sticky fruits stuffed with cheese and honey. The dark and rummy smell of Madagascar beans that hint at a slight, musky nose of tobacco. My favorite, the Tonga vanilla bean which, after deep inhale, will bombard you with images of black cherries.

Any of these beans are perfect in this delightful vanilla bean cupcake, one I’m very proud of. It’s a fantastic way to show off vanilla, a spice that does love center stage. If you don’t have a vanilla bean you can get away with just the vanilla extract, but they’re infinitely better with the beans. While they can be expensive (buy online), keep in mind that even after you scrape the seeds out of the pod, you can use it many times over. Steeping it into cream for ice cream, pop it in a bottle of vodka for homemade extract, or in a jar of sugar for vanilla sugar are just some suggestions.

I like to think of vanilla as my humble, endearing, sweet smelling obsession. Personally, I feel these cupcakes will seduce you to the way of vanilla as well.

Double Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

  • Yield: Makes about one dozen cupcakes.



  • 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or one whole bean if you can spare it)


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven preheats cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean. Place the seeds, empty bean, and the milk into a small saucepan. Heat to just under a simmer for a few minutes being careful not to scald the milk. Remove from heat and allow the milk to steep and cool. (Be sure to remove the bean after it cools. Wash it and then place it out to dry so it can be used again.)

2 Beat the butter for about 3 minutes on medium speed, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each.

3 In one bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another whisk together the vanilla steeped milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream.

4 Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter sugar egg mixture in alternating additions (dry-wet-dry method), starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined being sure to not overbeat.

5 Divide the batter into cupcake papers in a muffin tin and bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Be sure to rotate the cupcakes after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Be sure to keep a close eye as these can get overbaked quickly. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Frost when cooled.


Beat the butter and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if using) and beat in.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a food writer, writing instructor, culinary consultant, freelance food photographer, and recipe developer who shares his enthusiasm for food and the written word through his blog Vanilla Garlic. Garrett's cookbook, co-authored with Stephanie Stiavetti, is Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

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Showing 4 of 57 Comments

  • Evelin Mari

    Living in Europe really makes you stupid when it comes to cups and Fahrenheit temps. It really is a foreign language.

    Could you post the measurements in Gram’s and degrees Celsius? Pleeeeasee?

    Thank you so much,
    Groetjes, (that is Dutch for greets)

    Evelin, a google search or the conversion tool on the left should be of great help to you. ~Garrett

  • Phat

    Can I use the regular salt instead of kosher salt? What’s the difference?

    Iodized salt has a chemical flavor from processing and is almost too salty. I suggest never using it again. Ever. ~Garrett

  • Ivy

    THANK YOU! This is the cupcake recipe I was looking for; moist, fluffy, and light. Although I don’t like sour cream, so I substituted for an additional 1/4 of milk and the final result was excellent! Thanks again!

  • C.C.

    Hello, the cupcakes turned out pretty good…a little dense, I will probably cook them for about 16-17 min next time. Tried the Icing and it was very buttery added another cup of sugar and a tbsp of vanilla extract it was still nasty. So I threw it out…I couldn’t even add the vanilla bean didn’t have the heart to waste it.

  • adam

    What happens if the sugar doesn’t dissolve ?

    There isn’t a step where you dissolve sugar so I’m not sure what you are referring to. The sugar does get mixed into the frosting and cake batter, and will if you beat it as instructed. ~Garrett

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