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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes and Whipped Frosting

I'll call today "let's make my favorite cake batter into cupcakes day". Guess what? It was a total success. Well, not total. The frosting was a little weird for me today. The coloring started to separate from the icing, which gave it a marbled effect, which was kind of cool,  and I have no idea why, really, no idea. But a friend of mine said today and I quote "this is the best cupcake I've ever tasted." Can't beat that, right?

I promise you that if you make these cupcakes and frosting, people will say "ooh and ahh". Definitely my favorite cupcake combo. 

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes and Whipped Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour two 8-inch round baking pans and set aside.  This recipe also makes 24 cupcakes.  
In a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure that everything is well mixed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  
In a small bowl whisk together flour baking powder and salt.  
In a separate small bowl combine the milk, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds.  
With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture in three batches.  Start and end with the flour mixture.  When the batter is just combined, shut off the mixture and thoroughly incorporate the dough with a rubber spatula.  
Divide the batter between the two pans.  
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a pale golden color, and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  For cupcakes bake 25 to 30 minutes.  
Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool.  Frost and berry only when cakes are completely cool.

Vanilla Whipped Buttercream Frosting
3 sticks (1.5 cups) organic unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cup organic cane sugar
1.5 cup organic whole milk
3/8 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tablespoons organic vanilla extract

Cream the butter on medium speed, 3 to 5 minutes, in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer until soft, adout 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.  
In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup mil with the flour and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until there are no lumps.  Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cups milk, whisking constantly and cook until the mixture comes to a low boil.  
Reduce the heat to low and continue mixing until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.  
When the mixture starts to thicken, immediately remove the pan from the heat but keep stirring.  After you have removed the pan from the heat, the mixture will continue to cook for a minute or two on its own.  
If you overheat the mixture and find that you have some lumps, try to whisk them out with a little elbow grease, or pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.  Place the mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process.  
With the mixer on low speed, slowly poor the milk mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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