Comfort Food 101 – Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

    I’ve been facing a string of kitchen disasters lately (my Red Velvet cake split in half!) and I’ll admit I was almost too afraid to try this gorgeous recipe. But armed with a spatula and a keen eye, on the lookout for potential disasters, I weighed, whisked and waited. I cannot tell you how happy I was when I dug into this cupcake! I *love* vanilla, second to chocolate of course, so when I decided I needed something comforting this recipe was the perfect, perfect one.

    I’ll admit I doubted that the vanilla might be overpowering because it calls for a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract plus the innards of a vanilla bean but no it was the perfect comforting amount! The frosting is what dreams are made of (I’ve literally been dreaming of this frosting) and once you try this, I promise you’ll never make chocolate buttercream any other way. Quick note though, while the original recipe claimed to yield 24 cupcakes, mine yielded 18 cupcakes (16 even sized cupcakes and 2 not-so-even ones). Also, her recipe for the frosting calls for double cream but I just used the regular Amul cream. My icing was the perfect consistency (I like it a bit buttery, not too whipped cream like) but if you want yours more airy, by all means add the entire cream + chocolate powder mixture.
    Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
    Adapted from Joythebaker
    Yields 18
    1 cup butter, softened (ergo at room temperature)
    1 3/4th cup granulated sugar
    4 large eggs, room temperature
    1 cup whole milk (no low fat nonsense!)
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (cut a vanilla bean in half, slit in the centre, open it up with your fingers and scrape the sandy innards with a knife)
    2 3/4 all purpose flour, sifted (sift first, measure later)
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 3500F/1750C and line your cupcake pans with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla bean innards and vanilla extract. Ensure that its combined.
  4. Now, cream butter and sugar together till creamy. Scrape down every now and then to ensure everything is combined. It took me all of 3 to 5 minutes to achieve ‘pale, light and fluffy’.
  5. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. If the mixture begins to curdle, do not fret.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and vanilla mixture alternatively but beginning and ending with the flour. When the batter is almost combined after the last third of the flour, use spatula (and not the mixer) to combine everything.
  7. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. If you’re using 2 cupcake pans (and if you’re oven is as small as mine and you have to keep them one on top of the other), switch their positions after 15 minutes of inserting them. Once cakes are tested done, set on a wire rack to cool.
  8. Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
    (Can I add that I had quite a lot left over from this recipe. Next time, I am definitely halving it)
    3/4 cup butter, softened
    1/2 cup cocoa powder (sift if you see lumps)
    1/2 tsp salt (I omitted this as I was using salted butter)
    2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    2 tbs milk
    1/2 cup heavy cream (Amul works just fine)
    1/3 cup Ovaltine (or any other chocolate drink powder – I used some instant hot chocolate powder I had left over from Harrods)
  9. In a large bowl, beat butter on low speed till soft. Add cocoa powder and salt (if using) and beat till combined.
  10. Turn mixer on low speed while you add sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Turn up the speed as sugar incorporates.
  11. Now, in a tall measuring glass, add cream and chocolate drink powder. Stir till combined. On medium speed, add cream and chocolate drink mixture to frosting in a steady stream. As I said before, you may not want to use the entire thing. I used a little more than half. Once the cupcakes are cooled, spread/pipe onto them and eat right away! If you don’t, I admire your restraint.
  12. Pale, light and fluffy – perfectly creamed (such a milestone!)

The Vanilla Extract + Innards + Milk – I love the itty bitty vanilla specks
The ready tray – tell me you can still see vanilla specks!
Chocolate Buttercream – Before adding cream mixture
Chocolate Buttercream – after adding cream mixture
They’re equally good at this stage!
Post icing – I didn’t have the patience to pipe – just spread and wolf down!

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