Friday, August 20, 2010

Nothing "Vanilla" about these cupcakes

I have been wanting to work with real Vanilla Bean ever since I ate those delicious vanilla bean scones at Starbucks. Reading around, I found out that I am not alone and a lot of blogging ladies and men out there fell for that little scones spell and they set out on their own mission to discover their secrets.

Since my Hostess cupcakes were such a huge success I felt confident and probably safe to say, a little nuts on finding the next perfect cupcake recipe. These cupcakes needed to be perfect. They are Vanilla Bean! Just thinking about it makes my mouth drool over the simplicity and elegance this spice delivers. Also, ever prices those suckers? It's about (on avarage) $10 a bean. Sure they pack a powerful flavor punch, but I wanted to be safe not to waste my precious ingredient.

So the search began, I looked up recipes; found fun hints on how to use the vanilla bean. Comparing ingredients, I found that most recipes were like the classic cupcake (ie. milk, sugar, etc...) But I ended up using this recipe from Simply recipes with the guest author from Vanilla Garlic since he seemed to be having a love affair with Vanilla beans! He has 9 varieties of beans in his house, just imagine what theat smells like :)

I whipped up these cupcakes in a mad effort to reduce workday stress, I think it was 10 pm when I started.

Just smelling the vanilla, and working with my other lover (My KitichenAid Mixer) made the stress melt away. And, more importantly stay away.

The stress was totally banished once I tasted the first cupcake. Oh My Goodness, these are beautiful!

Double Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

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 (makes those beautiful vanilla speckles)

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.

Makes about a dozen cupcakes.