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 Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream
I received the book Cupcakes: Luscious bakeshop favorites from your home kitchen by Shelly Kaldunski and was very excited to make a recipe from this.  I like that most recipes made only 12 cupcakes.   I tried the chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream.  The chocolate cupcake was good.  It reminds me of cake-y brownies and had the slight hard crust on the top.  It was not overly chocolate-y.   I might add some chocolate extract next time to heighten the chocolate flavor.  The amounts were slightly inconvenient (i.e. the recipe specified 3/4 plus 2 tbsp) and I would personally have preferred everything by weights.  This was very easy to mix together.  The vanilla buttercream went together fairly easily, I used my KitchenAid bowl on the stove and hand mixed while it was on the stove and let my stand mixer do the heavy whipping.  I piped the frosting, which was a little loose and practically dripped out of the pastry bag, perhaps I needed to beat it a little longer.   This was a nice, light buttercream and not too sweet.   I added some chocolate sprinkles for decoration.  I am looking forward to trying some of the other recipes in this cookbook.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

makes 12 cupcakes

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liner

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Place the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl and set over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan; stir frequently until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and let the chocolate mixture cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture just until no traces of flour remain; do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 22 to 24 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream, garnish with grated chocolate and serve. (The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.)

Basic (Vanilla) Buttercream

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract (or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean)

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar.  Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the saucepan.  Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature , and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and 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, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more.  Add the vanilla flavoring and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use right away.