On Thanksgiving weekend I indulged in a purchase of a baking extravagance — a bottle of Nielsen-Massey “Madagascar Bourbon” vanilla bean paste. I seldom mention brands here, but the name of this sounds so exotic that I couldn’t resist.
I’ve wanted to try vanilla bean paste for ages, and now that I had some sitting proudly in the cupboard, I cast about for a recipe that would showcase the vanilla flavour as well as the lovely dark flecks of vanilla bean.
I decided to make vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, hence the title for this post. The cupcake is a basic, rather dense vanilla cake fancied up with vanilla bean paste instead of the usual vanilla extract. For the frosting, I wanted pillowy swirls of creamy buttercream, so I made a softer version than usual with the addition of some milk. Vanilla bean paste added intense flavour and visual interest via specks of the dark bean.
I was pleased with how these turned out, with whimsical swirls of fluffy frosting atop the tasty little cakes in their pretty wrappers. The vanilla flavour was the star of this confection, as I had intended it to be. The Culinary Enthusiast enjoyed twice the usual amount of these Twice the Vanilla cupcakes!
Vanilla Bean Paste Cupcakes
I looked at many vanilla cupcake recipes on the internet, before coming up with this combination of ingredients. Pre-heat oven to 350º and line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake papers.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup milk
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in the eggs and vanilla bean paste. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and add alternately with the milk. Mix until combined, taking care not to overmix.
Scoop into prepared cupcake liners (an ice-cream scoop is a great tool for this), ensuring an even amount in each. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the tray on a rack for a few minutes, then remove the cupcakes and finish cooling on the rack.
Fluffy Vanilla Bean Paste Buttercream
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tsp meringue powder
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Using an electric mixer, whip the butter for a few minutes until light. Slowly incorporate the icing sugar, and scrape down the bowl. Add the meringue powder, milk and vanilla bean paste and whip at medium speed until the consistency is light and smooth.
Scoop the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with the tip you desire. Roll down or twist the top of the bag, and pipe clouds of frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.