Let’s Celebrate Vanilla!
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 nine varieties of vanilla beans in my pantry! Not to mention six 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.
Different Types of Vanilla
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 vanilla 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.
A True Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
Any of these beans are perfect in this delightful vanilla cupcake recipe, a recipe that I’m very proud of. It’s a fantastic way to show off vanilla, a spice that does love center stage.
I like to think of vanilla as my humble, endearing, sweet-smelling obsession. Personally, I feel this particular vanilla cupcake recipe will seduce you to the way of vanilla as well.
If you don’t have a vanilla bean you can get away with just the vanilla extract, but this vanilla cupcake recipe is infinitely better with the beans.
Ways to Use the Leftover Vanilla Bean Pod
While they can be expensive (buy online), keep in mind that even after you scrape the seeds out of the pod, you can use the pod many times over.
Steeping the pod 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. No matter which way you choose, these homemade vanilla cupcakes will be delicious.
This recipe includes a recipe for (you guessed it) vanilla-infused frosting! If you’re looking for something a little different, though, try a cream cheese frosting or even this extra-rich chocolate frosting!
Want More Cupcakes?!
Double Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe
For the cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 whole vanilla bean (or 1 whole bean if you can spare it)
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 egg whites
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
1 Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare the cupcake pan: Line a 12-cup muffin or cupcake tin with cupcake liners and set aside.
2 Steep vanilla bean pod and seeds in hot milk: While the oven preheats, cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean.
Place the seeds, empty bean, and the milk in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat for a few minutes until the milk is just starting to steam. Be careful not to boil or scald the milk.
Remove from heat and allow the milk to cool with the vanilla beans. After it cools, remove the bean pod. (Wash it and then place it out to dry so it can be used again.)
3 Whisk together dry ingredients In one bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4 Whisk vanilla milk, extract, and sour cream: In another bowl whisk together the vanilla-steeped milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream.
5 Begin making the cupcake batter: Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a beater attachment 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. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.
6 Finish the cupcake batter: Add half the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low until combined. Then add all of the milk mixture, and mix to combine. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined and you see no more visible dry flour. Be careful not to over-mix.
7 Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners in the muffin tin. Bake at 350° F for 18-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Rotate the pan after 10 minutes to ensure even baking. Be sure to keep a close eye as these can get over-baked quickly.
8 Cool: Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
9 Frost when cupcakes are cool: Beat the butter for the frosting and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if using) and beat in.
Frost each cupcake individually and serve. Cupcakes are best served the same day they are made, though will keep fairly well for a few days in an airtight container at room temperature.
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