Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

I’ve made basic vanilla cupcake multiple times and frosting, I keep coming back to it since it is a good combination. I am always looking for another variation, I still feel like I haven’t found the perfect one yet.  The cupcake recipe is based on the one in Cupcakes: Luscious bakeshop favorites from your home kitchen by Shelly Kaldunski. Overall I like the book and appreciate the fact that most recipes are for 12 cupcakes.  I doubled the recipe to make 24 this time using a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract.  The chocolate cupcakes from the book were fine.  The vanilla buttercream is a basic recipe using the swiss meringue technique and uses a bit less sugar than many recipes.  The amount is enough for 24 cupcakes.  The pictures for these were disappointing so I am not including any.

Vanilla Cupcakes

adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski (exact original)
This makes 24 cupcakes (original was 12)

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature (half recipe is 1 egg and 1 egg white)
  • seeds from one vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil cupcake liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Reduce the speed to low; add the each egg separately, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat on low speed to incorporate. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed.

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, beating on low speed until just combined and alternating with several additions of milk; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 30 seconds or just until no traces of flour remain. Do not overbeat.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until they are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and cool for 1 hour.

Vanilla (Swiss Meringue) Buttercream Frosting
based on many sources
This makes enough for 24 cupcakes, reasonably frosted

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 200 grams granulated sugar (about 1 cup)
  • Pinch salt
  • 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring (optional)

Combine the egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl (or a large heatproof bowl). Set the bowl over (but not touching) an inch or two of boiling water in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Heat the mixture for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 6 minutes, until it is fluffy, has cooled to room temperature and holds stiff peaks. The mixture should not look dry.

Reduce the speed to medium-low; add the salt and then the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, increase the speed to high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract; beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add food coloring, if desired.

Chocolate Cookie Cutouts

Chocolate Football Cut-Out Cookies
These are from Martha Stewart’s Cookies with some slight modifications.  I had a little more cinnamon, a little more vanilla and the addition of chocolate extract.  These were fairly easy to work with for cutout cookies.

I used a 3 inch football cookie cutter and from my Roshco 100-Piece Cookie Cutter Set.  This particular shape works better with cookies that are slightly thicker, closer to 1/4 inch while many of my cookies were 1/8 inch thick due to the embossed design.  Only some of the cookies had the football design (and of course I selected the best ones for the photo!).

Chocolate Cookie Cutouts

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
Nonpareils, for sprinkling (optional)

Procedure

1. Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl.

2. Put butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. mix in egg and extracts.  Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour or overnight.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Chill in freezer 15 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, quickly cut out shapes from dough (if dough begins to soften, chill it in freezer 3 to 5 minutes). Reroll and cut scraps. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Brush flour from shapes. Sprinkle with nonpareils, if using. Chill in freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Bake cookies until crisp, about 9 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookie can be stored betwween layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.