Paul’s birthday was last week and he loves vanilla cupcakes.  I know, and I hear ya… vanilla, really?  Why would anyone choose vanilla when there’s this incredible concoction called chocolate?  Seriously, vanilla?

But I digress.  These are great cupcakes and very easy to make.  I accidentally baked them for too long so they weren’t as tender as they should be, but the ridiculously decadent buttercream helped that situation.

I had to laugh while making them because not only is there both butter and shortening in the frosting (that’s right, both), I may have lazily left little pockets of golden love throughout the batter.  The butter didn’t quite mix in as smoothly as I would have thought.  But who doesn’t love little pockets of golden love? Right?

Definitely yummy. Definitely fattening.  Definitely worth it.

Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe care of

Vanilla Cupcakes.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/4 cups milk

DIRECTIONS:  Turn oven on to 375 degrees F.  Put butter in mixer and beat at medium speed until somewhat smooth. Pour in sugar and beat well. Add 2 eggs. I like to crack the eggs on the side of the bowl while it is moving, which can be really stupid. I like to take chances. Yes, I have had to throw away my batter because I lost eggshells in the mix. Yes, it was a waste of food and yes, I know how expensive butter is, but what can I say? I’m a daredevil. Mix well. Add: vanilla, baking powder, salt, flour, and milk. Beat until it looks like it is supposed to and pour into individual baking cups, until they are about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Should produce 24 cupcakes; I get 18 because I’m doing something wrong, although my cupcakes were voted second best in the city by New York Magazine.


Vanilla Bean Buttercream (recipe care of

INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup salted butter (softened), 1/2 cup vegetable shortening**, 2 vanilla beans (seeded) OR 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 4 cups powdered sugar, 3-5 Tbsp. heavy cream (or milk if you don’t have cream)

DIRECTIONS:  Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, vanilla bean paste (or the scrapings from 2 beans), and the vanilla extract with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides as necessary. Unless you use a SideSwipe paddle like I do… then no scraping is needed.  Either way, continue mixing until it’s smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time until it’s all incorporated and moist. The mixture will be stiff.  When all the sugar is mixed in, you can begin to add heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time until the consistency is good for you!  I like the frosting to be stiff enough to pipe, but not so stiff that it makes my hand hurt! I know that’s an incredibly scientific texture, right?  Add more milk and/or vanilla bean paste until it’s perfect for you!!  **Before you ask… YES, you can use all butter and skip the shortening, but it will not hold up as well in heat (I live in Mississippi ya’ll) or pipe as beautifully because it will be a softer frosting. It will also have a slightly different taste and texture.

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